Dizang asked Fayan, “Where are you going from here?”
Fayan said, “I’m on pilgrimage.”
“What sort of thing is pilgrimage?”
“I don’t know.”
“Not knowing is most intimate.”
Fayan suddenly had a great awakening.
—Pacific Zen Miscellaneous Koans, Case 62 & Book of Serenity, Case 20
The shaggy beast of the year 2021 – John chants the Kanzeon for all things leaving and crossing over, and Jordan sings the Kanzeon. What is next for our times? Not knowing is most intimate! As recorded December 19, 2021.
A Boxing Day story of awakening. Music from Michael Wilding & Jordan McConnell. As recorded December 26, 2021.
What is the world? Just this! Eduardo Fuentes talks about the beautiful, mysterious lives we lead, and how “don’t-know mind” is hidden inside and underneath names and symbols. As recorded at Fall Sesshin, Friday, October 22, 2021.
Everyone is assailed by demons right now. Demons have a long history in the culture. If you’ve got demons, you’re alive! But you don’t have to get on board with them. Demons come out of your own heart, just like enlightenment. Tess Beasley reads from James Hillman’s “Dreams & the Blood Soul.” Michelle Riddle & Jon Joseph chant a Zen spell for dispelling demons, the Sho Sai Myo Kichijo Dharani. John reads Keats and Coleridge.
I’m getting used to the thought that many things that seem as if they belong in the realm of the body are also influenced by the mind. Placebo studies indicate that even surgery can be a placebo. In medical school the faculty will sometimes say to students that they should use a drug a lot when it first comes out while people still believe in it. There is a Zen koan that goes “The whole world is medicine,” and the joke is that it could go, “The whole world is placebo.”
Four Women Zen Teachers of PZI tell a winter tale, the story of a vast moment that interrupted a battle in the middle of World War I. The Guanyins Allison Atwill, Tess Beasley, Sarah Bender & Michelle Riddle share the telling and teaching with meditation, poetry and reflection. Jordan McConnell on guitar. PZI Zen Online, as recorded Dec. 27, 2020.
Practice. The notion of practice, as something you embody, and you walk through, and you are—rather than something you add, like something added to gasoline. There’s also a sense of moving in the dark, in some way that’s positive. So that in a practice, “not knowing” is on your side.
John Tarrant in Fall Sesshin 2019. Being lost or between places is a fundamental human predicament. Being lost delivers you to yourself with an unknown outcome. The teacher takes away the student’s need to know what’s unfolding on their pilgrimage. Zen likes predicaments as signs that things want to change.
PZI Zen Online Audio: Sarah Bender Roshi reflects on the intimacy of not knowing, the nearness of all of us in this dreamy emergent time. Wandering and not knowing are allies now. Includes Sarah’s intro & dharma talk, silent meditation segments, and sharing. As recorded April 3 2020.
John Tarrant in Fall Sesshin 2019. Zen likes predicaments, uncertainty allows us to enter life more fully. The koans are allies in this. The unexpected questions are often those that help the most. To all the strategies that defend against life, a Zen entreaty: “Become more lost.” John Tarrant in Fall Sesshin 2019.
John revisits the awakenings and koans of the great teachers, among them Yunmen and his teachings. In the layered quality of the teachings there is a common thread in our lineage: we are all in it together, all held by this great path, we put ourselves in the vessel and see what happens. Each of us holds a piece of the story—trust the piece you hold. As recorded Fall Sesshin 2019.
Using the koans Not Knowing is Most Intimate and Taking the Form of Guan Yin Find Shelter for the Homeless Person, John Tarrant talks about the intimacy that comes when we turn toward vulnerability and no longer need to defend against life.