PZI Teacher Archives

Alive or Dead? I Won't Say (BCR 55)

KOAN:

Daowu and Jianyuan went to a house to offer condolences. Jianyuan struck the coffin with his hand and asked, “Alive or dead?”
Daowu said, “I’m not saying alive, I’m not saying dead.”
Jianyuan asked, “Why won’t you say?”
Daowu said, “I’m not saying! I’m not saying!”
On the way home, Jianyuan stopped in the middle of the road and demanded, “Tell me right now, Teacher. If you don’t say, I’m going to hit you and leave.”
Daowu said, “You can hit me, but even if you do, I still won’t say.” Jianyuan hit him.

After Daowu died, Jianyuan went to Shishuang and told him the story.
Shishuang said, “I’m not saying alive, I’m not saying dead.”
Jianyuan asked, “Why won’t you say?”
Shishuang said, “I’m not saying! I’m not saying!”
At these words, Jianyuan had an insight.

One day Jianyuan took a spade and went into the teaching hall. From the east he crossed to the west, and from the west he crossed to the east.
“What are you doing?” asked Shishuang.
Jianyuan said, “I’m searching for our old teacher’s sacred bones.”
Shishuang said, “Floods reach the horizon, whitecaps drown the sky. What sort of teacher’s sacred bones are you looking for?”
Later, Fu of Taiyuan said, “Our teacher’s sacred bones are still here.”

—The Blue Cliff Record, Case 55

Video November 1, 2022

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5' 36"
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9' 41"
Video November 1, 2022

Ancestral Stories: Are These Leaves Falling or Are They My Father’s Hands?

John Tarrant

John Tarrant reads his new autumn poem about meeting the vastness of autumn, and meeting his father, the Lord of Death. From the Ancestral Stories Retreat on October 30, 2022. 3 minutes.

2' 35"
Video October 31, 2022

Ancestral Stories: The Taste of Old Wrongs Can Disappear

John Tarrant

After people die, our point of view about them can shift—it often becomes more vast. Problems with those who’ve gone before can dissolve. In our PZI School, this is why the shadowy dark material is important: when included, it helps it to dissipate so the taste of old wrongs can actually disappear. Excerpted from Ancestral Stories Retreat on October 30, 2022. 7 minutes.

6' 27"