Audio- Recorded April 20th 2020 – Garrison Institute Webinar – A dharma talk and koan meditation session with John Tarrant. Deepening in our time apart – lessons from the underworld. Koans & ancestral stories that help us navigate our own strange time of lockdown for the pandemic.
Yunmen said – “Even after the full moon, every day is a good day!” The light of sesshin infuses us. In a “good day” the light is in you, just how it is. This is not an achievement, you are in the gift of the universe. The tenderness of the good day and our whole lives opening to now. You can’t bully the Tao! it’s bigger than you. Not getting in the way of life, dreams, Linji’s death and more.
John’s Monthly talk at SRCZC November – The time of year for ghosts, memories. We’ve just come through another disastrous fire season. Our ancestors survived fires , plagues, famines great crossings. John reads the teaching on the great zen temple fire of 1374 in which hundreds of thousands of precious texts were incinerated – and yet the temple master told them all had survived – this principle of teachings that nourish us beyond scripture is the core of Zen.
John Tarrant introduces the Queensland Magpie singing fire sirens and walks us through the ancient forests he knew as a child. How do we live the life we live in the face of this vast change? What is this?
Revisiting the big koans on his personal path: What is being a teacher? What is succession? Jon talks about Linji’s path to enlightenment – His teachers Wangbo and Daiyu conspire to help him. Jon reflects on his recent visit to Japan and the Chan zendo in Kamakura, his warmth and gratitude for Yamada and his teachings. Our ancestors in the Chan lineage.
Allison Atwill talks about transmission from two perspectives – the formal ‘Ikkan’ seal of transmission passed down in the Chan lineage from Bodhidharma; the Mind to Mind transmission. Described as the ‘Legitimate seal of clearly finished practice’, and secondly the transmission the teachings are always conveying to each of us. She relays the story of Chan teacher Ikkyu and his feral path toward awakening.
Revisiting the big koans – What is this? Who is hearing? Who am I ? and others on his personal path: What is being a teacher? What is succession? Jon talks about Linji’s path to enlightenment – His teachers Wangbo and Daiyu conspire to help him. Our ancestors in the Chan lineage. Jon reflects on his recent visit to Japan and the Chan zendo in Kamakura, his warmth and gratitude for Yamada and his teachings.
Uncertainty allows us to enter life more fully. Zen likes predicaments. The koans are allies in this. The unexpected questions are often those that help the most. All the strategies defend against life – ‘Become more lost’ – a zen entreaty.
John’s SRCZC talk on impermanence and rawness of feeling after the great fires in CA and Queensland. He reflects on the importance of internalizing the teachings and the nourishment of our ancestors within us- outside of our normal paths. Teachings after the great Engakuji fire in Chan koan history. The practice of talking to the ancestors – human or otherwise a source of great knowledge.
John revisits the awakenings and koans of the great teachers, among them Yunmen and his teachings. In the layered quality of the teachings there is a common thread in our lineage: we are all in it together, all held by this great path, we put ourselves in the vessel and see what happens. Each of us holds a piece of the story. Trust the piece you hold.
John talks about the warm intimacy of the ‘the dark’ – the uncolonized zone where koans work with us. Intimacy in teachings is used often as an equivalent for enlightenment. Koans open gates and bring us inside that mystery. Some categories of koans: Predicament koans, Heart Changing koans, Inquiry koans and more.
VIDEO TALK – Fall Sesshin 2019. The great Chan teacher Luopu’s deathbed story and his emphasis on the importance of a ‘direct meeting with the source’ outside the teachings – you can’t just read about it. ‘Don’t grasp principles with words’. The story features the Book of Serenity’s compassion for the whole process toward enlightenment for these wonderful teachers.
“No merit whatsoever!” Bodhidharma responds to Emperor Wu in Case 2, in the Book of Serenity. David follows Bodhidharma’s path, and the process of practice.
John Tarrant, Roshi, Director of PZI and author, talks about the mystery of meditation as he first experienced it in the ancient forests of Queensland; about transformation on the ancient koan path we follow, and the evolution of Pacific Zen Institute as a community, and koan school with a new online resource center, the KALPA (Koans and Liberation Project Archive) Library. Your support helps produce PZI’s ongoing retreats and dharma talks, John’s writing projects, and spreads the teachings.
John Tarrant speaks about what happens after an enlightenment experience, big or small, using the Roadrunner and Coyote parable. April 23, 2011.
John Tarrant gives a dharma talk Thursday night of the 2011 spring sesshin. The universe is here for each one of us. Underlying the troubles and pain of the world there is always a presence, a brightness, which is us and we are it. April 21, 2011.
Roshi John Tarrant opens Sesshin with a Koan by Linji: “Whatever confronts you, don’t believe it. Have faith in this light that is always functioning inside you.” February 19, 2012.