PZI Teacher Archives
Yunyan asked Daowu, “How does Guanyin use all those hands
Daowu answered, “It’s like feeling behind you for a pillow in the middle of the night.”
“What do you understand?”
“The whole body is hands and eyes.”
“That’s very well expressed, but it doesn’t say it all.”
“What would you say, older brother?”
“All through the body are hands and eyes.”
—Blue Cliff Record Case 89
(transl. by John Tarrant & Joan Sutherland)
In one story about Guanyin, our patron saint of compassion, her head literally explodes when she tries to contemplate the suffering of all the beings left in hell. Fortunately, future-buddha Amitabha comes along and gives her more heads. But then when she tries to help, her arms explode too! So he gives her a thousand arms. Sunday Zen from June 19, 2023.
John Tarrant introduces a modern bodhisattva of compassion found in Mike Leigh’s latest film, Happy-Go-Lucky. How does the bodhisattva of great compassion use all those hands and eyes? It’s like reaching behind you for a pillow in the night.
Meditation offers a path out of the burning house, without abandoning the promise and good-heartedness of being human. Practice is the last best hope of living up to that good-heartedness, the only thing that never hurts and usually helps. And even at the beginning of the meditation path, on a good day it’s exciting. It actually makes you happy.
We are exhausted by our own agendas; in Chan and Zen the Bodhisattva of Great Mercy vows to stay until all beings are awakened. Her primary bond is with uncertainty. Your recipe for awakening is only for you.
Here is a curation of sesshin dharma talks on a single page, for easy finding and listening. A sesshin is always more than the sum of its parts or its recorded talks. There are morning rituals, greetings, incense passed magically through the screen, the changing light, rich silences, moments of humor, tech gremlins, tears, synchronicities, dogs barking, dreams, and awakenings that we share. It is the timeless play of the universe, with each other. As recorded in the PZI Digital Temple, June 22-27, 2021.
How does the bodhisattva of compassion use all those hands and eyes? How do I express Guanyin? How is Guanyin showing up in my life? John Tarrant’s afternoon meditation & talk, Part 2 of this two-session Dragons of the Blue Cliff 1-Day Retreat. In the PZI Digital Temple, as recorded June 6, 2021.
How does the bodhisattva of compassion use all those hands and eyes? In some way, through the vastness of hands and eyes, the koan speaks of the vast currents of the universe that carry and hold us. John Tarrant’s morning meditation & talk, Part 1 of this two-session Dragons of the Blue Cliff 1-Day Retreat. In the PZI Digital Temple, as recorded June 6, 2021.