PZI Teacher Archives

Dharma Theme: Meeting the Inconceivable


What you can conceive of might take away your life. On the other hand, what you cannot conceive of will give you your life.

Meeting the Inconceivable

Links to Audio, Video, & Text on the topic

What you can conceive of might take away your life. On the other hand, what you cannot conceive of will give you your life.


TEXT: Meeting the Inconceivable – John Tarrant, excerpt from his book, Bring Me the Rhinoceros

TEXT: 1, 2, 3, 4, Rhinoceros – John Tarrant interviewed in Inquiring Mind magazine, Spring 2005

Once upon a time in China, the governor gave a rare fan carved of rhinoceros horn to a Zen Master, who forgot about it. Then he remembered.
He called to his assistant, “Bring me the rhinoceros fan.”
The assistant said, “It is broken.”
The master said, “In that case, bring me the rhinoceros.”

ARTWORK: Meeting the Inconceivable – PZI Art Card by Dharma Dog Productions

Mysterious Meetings

When there is no moon and you can’t find your path in the usual way, you are bound to have some unusual encounters.

It’s past 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.

—First of Dongshan’s Five Ranks

VIDEO: Dongshan: Meeting a Face from Long Ago – John Tarrant, Sesshin 2014

AUDIO: Free & Easy Wandering: Mysterious Meetings in Mysterious Times
—John Tarrant, Sunday Zen, Spring 2021

VIDEO: Dreaming & Meeting What Appears – Tess Beasley, Summer Sesshin 2022

AUDIO: Before There Is Moonlight: First of Dongshan’s Five Ranks – Jon Joseph, Monday Zen, Spring 2020

A student asked Dalong, “What is the mysterious?”
He answered, “The breeze brings the water’s voice close to my pillow.
The moon carries the mountain’s shadow near my bed.”


AUDIO: Magical Meetings – John Tarrant, Complete Sunday Zen Audio

VIDEO CLIP: Magical Meetings: Past Midnight – Koun Yamada’s Awakening — John Tarrant

VIDEO CLIP: Magical Meetings: Whatever Arises, Is It! — John Tarrant

What Is It to Meet Things?

AUDIO: The Ink Dark Moon: What Is It to Meet Things? – Tess Beasley, Sunday Zen

When Will You Meet Today?

KOAN: When Will You Meet Today? – PZI Inquiry Koan

AUDIO: When You Stop Chasing About – John Tarrant, Fall Sesshin 2020

AUDIO: Walking Together in Chaos Times: Meeting Impossible Problems
– John Tarrant, Sunday Zen, Summer 2022

Related Materials & Koans

TEXT: The Power of Koan Practice – John Tarrant, Shambhala Sun magazine, Spring 2003

TEXT: The Nature of Practice – John Tarrant, Summer Sesshin 2017