Xiangyan was once asked by a monastic, “What is the Way?”
Xiangyan said, “A dragon singing in a withered tree.”
Later, another monastic asked Shishuang, “What is the ‘dragon singing in a withered tree?'”
Shishuang said, “It still has joy.”
The monastic also asked Caoshan, “What is the ‘dragon singing in a withered tree?’”
Caoshan said, “The blood line is not cut off.”
The monastic asked, “Who can hear this?”
Caoshan said, “In the whole world, there is no one who does not hear it.
The monk asked, “What book is ‘dragon murmurings’ taken from?”
Caoshan said, “I don’t know what book it’s from, but all who hear it die.
—from Xuedou’s verse commentary on Blue Cliff Record Case 2
Here is a curation of sesshin dharma talks on a single page, for easy finding and listening. A sesshin is always more than the sum of its parts or its recorded talks. There are morning rituals, greetings, incense passed magically through the screen, the changing light, rich silences, moments of humor, tech gremlins, tears, synchronicities, dogs barking, dreams, and awakenings that we share. It is the timeless play of the universe, with each other. As recorded in the PZI Digital Temple, June 22-27, 2021.
Whatever your condition is, you can see the “I have joy.” Out of that emptiness, out of what seems unpromising—the dark material, the valley spirit, the enigma, out of the mystery, out of what I don’t understand—it just appears. The joy just appears.