PZI Teacher Archives
What is this?
—PZI Inquiry Koan
Note: See also Xuefeng’s What’s This (BCR51)
“What is this?” asked the eccentric Zen teacher Budai, holding up odd objects to a crowd. The universe is an intimate net, its jeweled facets contain everything, including the smell of fresh toast. All living beings must turn toward the ultimate. This is deeper than any sorrow, horror, disgrace. The strangeness and beauty of now, of life, is beyond explanation. And this moment has always been here.
The urgency of some questions and facing hidden truths help us discover our own true nature. We reveal ourselves at every turn. When we try to see our own light, we can’t—”it’s dark, dark,” says Yunmen. During sesshin, we sit and trust our own heart-mind to open, inquiring, “Who am I?” and, “How is this so?”
Jesse Cardin responds to the intimacy of intensely difficult moments, including frustration and delight with his son, while moving house from the mainland to Hawai’i. When everything is included, even the most difficult things, people, or events, then intimacy is possible and uncertainty is a friend. Complete session recorded May 7, 2023.
There is an inner 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.
Zhuangzi said, “We wander in borderless vastness; Great Knowledge enters in, and we don’t know where it will ever end.” Dharma talk given by John Tarrant in a Sunday Zen session on February 26, 2023.
The salt and sauce is the invisible component of practice, of life. It is the place in which we are held when disaster strikes, or there’s chronic illness, or you find yourself at the Mad Hatter’s tea party. You might not need what you think you do to get by. What is salt and sauce for you? We can be at peace in the midst of the madness of events – this is our main work in zen. Music for meditation from Micheal Wilding on flute and then on drum. Complete Sunday Zen session from March 12, 2023.
What is this? is an ancient question—it holds our whole lives. That wondering is the essence of what it is to be human. If you allow wonder into a hard time, it will change it. The attempt to discover something is where the question or problem will change.
From a Sunday Zen session with John Tarrant (What Is This?): Amaryllis plays a violin intro for Jesse’s rendition of the Four Vows on bongos and vocals. 3-minute clip recorded February 19, 2023.
Entering into great silence. What is appearing, in this new year? A guided meditation with Tess Beasley from the first Sunday Zen session of the new year. Recorded January 8, 2023. 5 minutes.
Yunmen said, “Before or 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. Our whole lives opening to now. You can’t bully the Dao, it’s bigger than you! Not getting in the way of life. Also: Dreams, Linji’s death, and more. Video recorded in Winter Sesshin 2020.
John Tarrant speaks of fire sirens and the Queensland Magpie singing, 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? As recorded in Winter Session 2020.
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 Huangbo and Dayu 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.