PZI Teacher Archives
Once when Xuefeng was living in a hermitage, two students came to pay their respects.
When Xuefeng saw them coming, he slumped against the hermitage door and then came out.
He asked, “What’s this?”
One of the students said “What’s this?” back to him.
Xuefeng hung his head and returned to the hermitage.
Afterwards, the students went on to Yantou.
Yantou asked, “Where have you come from?”
“From Lingnan,” one student replied. “Did you get to see Xuefeng?”
“What did he have to say?”
The student told the story.
Yantou asked, “Then what did he say?”
“He didn’t say anything; he hung his head and went back inside.”
Yantou said, “Too bad! I’m sorry that years ago I didn’t tell him the last word.
If I’d told him, no one in the world would be able to touch old Xuefeng.”
This student stayed through the end of the summer retreat,
and for the second time recounted the story and asked for help with it.
Yantou asked, “Why didn’t you ask me earlier?”
“It’s not as easy as that.”
Yantou said, “Although Xuefeng and I were born on the same branch,
he won’t die on the same branch as me.
If you want to know what it’s all about: ‘It’s just this.’”
—Blue Cliff Record Case 51
(transl. by John Tarrant & Joan Sutherland)
There is a restlessness in the question, “What is Buddha?” If we look beyond what we think we know of as Buddha, the answer can be anything. A Zen master answered this question with, “dried shit stick!” Nothing is excluded; the jewel can be anywhere. Complete Sunday Zen session, with poems from Li Bai and John Tarrant. April 28, 2023.
“Feeling the time,” is a line from the poet Du Fu—the time is always with us. And it’s always too early to despair. We’re just here. Not wanting anything to be different. Objections are full of knowing! You step out of the way you are perceiving the world, the dream of who you are, you turn the light backward. Recorded February 26, 2023.
Gifts are outside of usual commerce and exchange. What is it to receive one? What comes with that? Something is always vast and still, something is always blooming. Includes the story of an olive tree delivery, Denise Levertov’s poem The Gift, and music from PZI musicians. Complete Sunday Zen session.
Something is always vast and still, something is always blooming—the joys and pains of life, of forgetting and remembering. Gifts are outside of usual commerce and exchange, and life is a gift. Just accept it, like the flowers at the foot of the cliff. Complete Sunday Zen session.
We have made it out of deep winter to the new year, and there is something new appearing. How do I hold the Zen paradox of form and emptiness as I live my life? With dreams, poems, comments, and Jordan McConnell playing music for meditation. Complete January Sunday Zen session, Part 1.
Second evening talk of Summer Sesshin 2021: John Tarrant introduces the great master of the Blue Cliff and the great questions and koans of his awakening.