PZI Teacher Archives
It’s Hard? Then Let the Koan Carry You
Shitou says the dark and bright are both part of the deep work. When times are tough, trusting your koan and the deep current carrying us all, is the way forward. Mazu tells us we came here to make a way out of no way—koans help. Trust in this valuable process. From a talk given at Summer Sesshin in June 2022. 5 minutes.
Koans on the Journey of Refuge
From a talk given by Tess Beasley in Summer Sesshin on June 15, 2022. 3 minutes.
From a talk in Summer Sesshin on refuge and vows, given by Tess Beasley. Recorded June 15, 2022.
A Koan Can Hold Your Attention for You
In the vessel of sesshin, attention can move freely and find myriad places of rest. A koan can hold you when you don’t know where to go. From a talk in Summer Sesshin, June 15, 2022. 1 minute.
Walking the Mysterious Path Together
John Tarrant Roshi on PZI: Zen koans are a key part of what we do in PZI, although there is no requirement that anyone work with koans to practice with us. Koans hold an ancient wisdom that anyone can use, and for a long time PZI has been exploring different ways of working with them. This exploration, and its embodiment in practice, is our gift.
Roshification – What Is This?
Becoming a Roshi, Jesse Cardin’s thoughts on the eve of his transmission ceremony.
Walking the Mysterious Path Together – Koans, Transformation & PZI
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. 8 minutes. January 2019
Gratitude for the Path
A most heartfelt conversation about David’s spiritual journey. Beginning with his teacher Lama Yeshe to the practice of Zen with John Tarrant and the Pacific Zen Institute community. July 15, 2014.
It’s Alive, It’s Alive
John Tarrant presents a dharma talk at the Winter 2011 Bare Bones Sesshin on the experimental nature of PZI koan practice, and being “alive.” January, 2011.
The Continuous Flowing Nature of Mind
The Zen Koan for summer sesshin was “Who Is Hearing?” The talk by John Tarrant and ensuing conversation regards the nature of the mind, and aspects of practice. June 22, 2011.
Abiding with Koans, the Mind Comes Forth
Rachel Boughton, Director of the PZI Santa Rosa Center, how-to talk on working with zen koans.
A Zen ancestor was gathering wood and heard a line being recited that struck him. “What was that again?” he asked. “Oh, it was just something I heard up north in a temple.” So he went to study up north.
Allison Atwill’s Art Talk, Part 1
Allison Atwill discusses her art and its relationship to koan practice. Part 1. 2010.
Allison Atwill’s Art Talk, Part 2
Allison Atwill discusses her art and its relationship to koan practice. Part 2. 2010.
Allison Atwill’s Art Talk, Part 6
Allison Atwill discusses her art and its relationship to koan practice. Part 6. 2010.
Allison Atwill’s Art Talk, Part 5
Allison Atwill discusses her art and its relationship to koan practice. Part 5. 2010.
Allison Atwill’s Art Talk, Part 4
Allison Atwill discusses her art and its relationship to koan practice. Part 4.
The Question of the Tail
David Weinstein Roshi continues the conversation during retreat regarding the ancient Koan about the buffalo passing through a lattice window. How can the buffalo get through the lattice window – all but the tail? What is it that is difficult for me to let in? Can we be compassionate with ourselves when we find the place on our life where there is a no trespassing sign?
The True Person of No Rank
John opens the evening with the koan “The True Person of No Rank.” It goes something like this: “There is a true person of no rank who is always coming and going from the portals of your face.” Who is that person of no rank? Linji was a great teacher and the ancestor of most of the koan lines of Zen and this is a koan of his. It has been used since ancient times as a meditation both for beginners and advanced students. Probably the best way to work with it is to play with it. Don’t rank how you are doing. Just let it keep you company, like an animal would. You forget about it, but every time you look, there it is! And after a while it doesn’t go away. October 17, 2013.
The Stone Grave
On the second day of Bare Bones retreat John brings to light the many ways in which we find ourselves in situations where we feel hopelessly trapped. Often we are not even aware that we are living in the stone crypt; the door closes and we can’t remember we were ever somewhere else. Working with a koan might just be the way to open the door. January 20, 2014.
Go Straight Down a Road with 99 Curves
This sesshin, John introduced a series of miscellaneous koans, the first being “How do you go straight down a road with 99 curves?” February 12, 2014.
Stop the War
“John had us work with a series of miscellaneous Koans during retreat. Stop the war was one of my favorite talks. Looking at how I/we are at war within ourselves and how that internal war becomes a battle with those around us. A cold war or a war of words, fists or weapons. By practicing meditation we can mediate a truce with our fears.” – A participant. January 22, 2014.
Stop the Fire Across the River
Allison presents a talk on another miscellaneous Koan, “Stop the fire across the river.” This is like stopping the war within ourselves: where does this fire arise within us and what form does it take? Passion, anger, demons, delusions all take form within us.
Allison demonstrates the possibility of working with the fire of anger through humor and diligent practice and attention to what flares up within the body. January 22, 2014.
The Storehouse of Treasure
John Tarrant Roshi completes our week-long Sesshin retreat with the miscellaneous koan, “The storehouse of treasures opens by itself; you can take it and use it any way you wish.” January 23, 2014.
After the talk we did a writing exercise with these questions, “what storehouse treasure is closed to you, what is a problem that is not resolved and what is a treasure?
The Spirit of Love, Joy, and Play in Koans
John opens the first evening at summer retreat talking about the spirit of a koan. We were nestled in the lovely redwood mountains of Land of the Medicine Buddha in Soquel California. We were meditating, walking and diving into the great koan, Sickness and Medicine. It is based on a koan which goes like this, “Sickness and Medicine are in accord with each other. The whole world is medicine, what am I?” July 14, 2014.
Dongshan – Meeting a Face from Long Ago
“It’s passed midnight, the moon has not risen, in the thick, deep dark, you meet a face from long ago: but you don’t recognize them. No need to be surprised by this.”
John Discusses koan tradition, the “five steps” of enlightenment, and communication between student and teacher.
The Curiosity Shop
Rachel Boughton discusses techniques of meditation during sesshin; darkness, light, curiosity, and learning how to sit attentively with a koan. 2014.
When the Seas Got Rough
Allison Atwill, David Weinstein, John Tarrant, Jon Joseph, Rachel Boughton
“Not deciding it is or it isn’t, do you have the courage to be at peace with this? Everyone wants to leave the endless changes, but when we finish bending and fitting our lives, we come back to sit by the charcoal fire.”
During the final night of the 2015 January sesshin, the teachers have a conversation about identity, art, intimacy, and the nature of koan study.
Radical Transparency and Koans as Frenemies
Rachel Boughton, at the June-July sesshin held at Land of Medicine Buddha, talks hackers, privacy, and zen koans in an age of technology.
“We go to wild places in search of our self-nature, looking in the darkness of the tall grasses of abandoned places. Now, honored ones, where is your self-nature when you are searching for your self-nature?”
David Weinstein talks about culture and ideas, and recounts stories of enlightening adventures.
The Teachers Speak
David Weinstein, Illana Berger, John Tarrant, Steven Grant
On Friday evening, the last night of the October 2015 sesshin, all the teachers weigh in.