PZI Teacher Archives

Yunmen

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Dharma Theme October 30, 2023

Dharma Theme: Stop Suffering!

PZI Teachers

We’re always looking for a recipe or data points to get a handle on happiness. The most profoundly simple but difficult challenge is to let ourselves transform into ourselves. We imagine a different, better self “after awakening.” Every stroke, even the most difficult or painful, is part of the piece. Our journey through suffering transforms everything, including the destination.

36 Words

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Dharma Theme August 2, 2023

Dharma Theme: Sickness and Medicine

PZI Teachers

Usually, casually, I think of myself as being well. When I am sick, wellness is the me I imagine I’ll get back to. I can’t always be sure what is healing and what is the opposite.

55 Words
Text July 26, 2023

Carried in the Dark – On Lostness & the Spiral Path of Practice

John Tarrant

I’ve been thinking that everybody needs to start by being lost. And that the Dharma is a spiral path. It will happen again, and then again, and then again. So, when you are lost, instead of thinking, “This is an abnormal, wrong situation,” that’s what koans give us—they say, “Oh, well, I’m lost, fortunately. I don’t know what I’m doing.” 

4196 Words
Text June 28, 2023

Falling Into the Well of Sesshin

John Tarrant

The nice thing about falling is it’s already happened, you know? It started already; there’s not much you can do about it. So you’re kind of free, in a way. It’s sort of like being condemned: Knowing you’ll die tomorrow—well, you can do anything you want tonight.

4081 Words
Text March 26, 2023

Falling with the Koan NO

John Tarrant

John Tarrant gives a talk on Zhaozhou’s NO: This koan is often offered as a first “gate,” but I think you need to already be in trouble and falling before it’s useful. Life is always offering us that cliff—that door of falling. When you’re falling, you can’t screw it up because actually there’s not a lot you can do. But what you do will be very free and won’t be constrained by the usual. From a recording made in Fall Sesshin 2022.

5207 Words
Text September 20, 2022

The Lion with the Golden Hair

John Tarrant

The tip of each hair on the golden-haired lion is itself a whole world, an image of all the galaxies, all piled together. This lion is warm-hearted, delighted with everything, having a generally good time no matter what kind of time we’re having.

5876 Words
Text September 8, 2022

The Great Collaborators of the Blue Cliff Record

John Tarrant

Deep in Summer Sesshin, we are in the middle of the Blue Cliff Record. We, ourselves, are under the Blue Cliff, with Yunmen and Yunmen’s friends. We are all those people. The Blue Cliff is still being written, and we’re helping out with that project.

4662 Words
Text October 12, 2021

Unexpected Gifts: 10,000 Feet Down, The Stone

John Tarrant

John Tarrant talks about living in an underworld time, in a descent as a culture and as a world, and as a planet. Accepting the descent, and accepting the quality of being lost when it appears, is profoundly important. And there’s a great, strange, and interesting mystery in that.

7566 Words
Text September 23, 2021

Awakenings of Linji & the Great Chan Teachers

John Tarrant

John revisits the awakenings and koans of the great teachers, among them Yunmen and Linji. The love, and attention, and faithfulness at the heart of the stories and teachings of the Chan ancestors is their gift to us. And everything we bring to it is an addition into this great heritage, and is part of the layering. Transcript from a video talk in Fall Sesshin 2019.

4443 Words

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Article September 13, 2021

Placebo, Chronic Fatigue, & Dormitive Principles

John Tarrant

I’m getting used to the thought that many things that seem as if they belong in the realm of the body are also influenced by the mind. Placebo studies indicate that even surgery can be a placebo. In medical school the faculty will sometimes say to students that they should use a drug a lot when it first comes out while people still believe in it. There is a Zen koan that goes “The whole world is medicine,” and the joke is that it could go, “The whole world is placebo.”

884 Words

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Dharma Theme July 19, 2021

Dharma Theme: In the Palace at the Blue Cliff – Summer Sesshin 2021

John Tarrant, PZI Cantor & Musicians, PZI Teachers

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.

5 Words
Text May 15, 2021

Every Day Is a Good Day

John Tarrant

What is the journey for? What is it to have this life? We’re in it—it’s so marvelous, so overwhelming and so incomprehensible. You’ll find, I think, that you can’t stand back from it and answer that question. So the “good day” is just how it is. It’s like the gift of the universe, and you’re in the universe, having received the gift. Transcript of John Tarrant’s dharma talk in Winter Sesshin 2020.

5619 Words
Text August 14, 2020

Spirit of Love, Joy & Play in Koans

John Tarrant

Value a sort of play and see if you can break the koan—the koan will be amused. And see it and let it into your heart, and see what comes, or follow it around, or have it follow you. And finally you’ll realize, “Oh, I’m here. I’m free.”

5545 Words
Text September 18, 2019

Lost And Found

John Tarrant

The practice part of it is that it doesn’t matter if you think you lost the coin and start to be unhappy about life. That is another theory. And it doesn’t matter how many times that theory rises. Even that theory is the coin. A koan practice means that you go back to the river over and over again and you can trust that process.

1204 Words
Text November 15, 2017

Unicorns of Happiness

John Tarrant

Everyone knows happiness is A Good Thing, more desirable than say, vacuum cleaners or eye shadow. The founding fathers of the United States offered happiness as part of a mission statement for a people coming together in a nation, encouraging you to pursue, and perhaps to go so far as to chase, harry, hunt down, subdue and corral happiness. Even the Dalai Lama has said that happiness is the point of Buddhism.

4082 Words