PZI Teacher Archives

Xuefeng's What's This? (BCR51)


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?”
“I did.”

“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)

Video May 4, 2023

Your Thoughts & Feelings Are the Buddha

John Tarrant

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.

63' 16"
Video April 1, 2023

Everywhere! It’s Everywhere You Look

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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.

63' 4"
Video February 17, 2023

In Front of the Dead Tree Cliff, Flowers Are Always Blooming

John Tarrant

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.

61' 40"
Video February 15, 2023

Something Is Always Blooming

John Tarrant

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. 17-minute excerpt from Sunday Zen on February 12, 2023.

17' 22"
Video February 7, 2023

Great Silence at the Beginning: Always Home

Tess Beasley

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.

66' 44"
Video July 13, 2022

What Is It To Be Here?

Allison Atwill

Video clip: What is it to be here? Weaving and interweaving go on and on, while each thing stands in its own place. From a talk in Summer Sesshin, June 16, 2022. 3 minutes.

2' 15"