What is this? is an ancient question—it holds our whole lives. That wondering is the essence of what it is to be human.
What Is This, Anyway?
Links to Audio, Video, & Text on the topic
What is this? is an ancient question—it holds our whole lives.
That wondering is the essence of what it is to be human.
A Great Question Reveals a Gateway
What is this?
—PZI Inquiry Koan
For eighteen years, Yunmen and his attendant had a daily exchange on this question.
VIDEO: What Is This? An Ancient Question – John Tarrant, Sunday Zen, Winter 2023
VIDEO: What Is This? – John Tarrant, Winter Sesshin 2013
MINI-COLLECTION from WINTER SESSHIN 2020
VIDEO: What Is This? – John Tarrant
AUDIO: Talking About the Deepest Matters – John Tarrant
AUDIO: Great Doubt Leads to Great Awakening – David Weinstein
VIDEO: Roshification: What Is This? – Jesse Cardin
VIDEO: Every Day Is a Good Day – John Tarrant
John introduces great master Yuanwu and the great questions and koans
of his awakening.
AUDIO: Yuanwu & the Great Masters of the Blue Cliff – John Tarrant, Summer Sesshin 2021
PZI Inquiry Koans
Who am I?
What is this?
Where am I in my life? What is it that is unfolding?
Can I hold the paradox of emptiness and form as I experience what is unfolding in my life?
AUDIO: Always Home – Tess Beasley, Sunday Zen, Winter 2023
VIDEO CLIP: What Is It To Be Here? – Allison Atwill, Summer Sesshin 2022
Not-Knowing Is Always Available
Suffering is the notion, “This isn’t it.”
The whole of the ancient master teachings on suffering come down to this: Suffering is the notion, “This isn’t it,” and its variants, such as, “I can’t bear this, it shouldn’t be happening,” and, “I have to know how this will turn out,” and, “What if it gets worse?”
Freedom, waking up, and fearlessness come down to the simplicity of,“Wait a minute, what if this is it?” and its variants, “No need to bear it,” and “I don’t know.”
It’s easy to forget to be curious, and to grab an off-the-shelf knowledge, something like, “This is awful.” Not reaching for off-the-shelf understandings, though, is an important skill.
ARTICLE: You Don’t Have to Know – John Tarrant, Lion’s Roar Magazine, Spring 2013
TEXT: Living in the Moment – Allison Atwill, Summer Sesshin 2013
The basic koan, THIS! is always appropriate on the journey—is there anything wrong in this moment? If you are in the Dao, this question seems silly; if you are caught, it seems crazy!
VIDEO: Everywhere! It’s Everywhere You Look – John Tarrant, Sunday Zen, Winter 2023
AUDIO: Carried by What Is True – John Tarrant, Winter Sesshin 2023
VIDEO: Beginning with the End – David Weinstein, Sesshin 2015
When Xuefeng was living in a hut, there were two monks who came to pay their respects. Seeing them coming, Xuefeng pushed open the door of the hut with his hand, popped out, and said, “What is it?”
A monk also said, “What is it?” Xuefeng lowered his head and went back inside the hut. Later, Yentou said, “If you want to know the last word, just this is it.”
—Blue Cliff Record, Case 51
VIDEO: Something Is Always Blooming – John Tarrant, Sunday Zen, Winter 2023
AUDIO: Puhua Somersaults for Enlightenment – John Tarrant, Sunday Zen, Spring 2023
AUDIO CLIP: Rhinoceros Shopping: Jam & Enlightenment – John Tarrant, Sunday Zen, Spring 2022
KOAN: Dongshan’s Just This Is It – from The Record of Dongshan
Related Materials & Koans
KOAN: What Is It Like To Be You? – PZI Inquiry Koan
VIDEO CLIP: What Is It To Be YOU? – John Tarrant, Summer Sesshin 2022
AUDIO: The Beauty of Insignificant Things – John Tarrant, Sunday Zen, Summer 2022