Lingyun was wandering in the mountains and became lost in his walking. He rounded a bend and saw peach blossoms on the other side of the valley. This sight awakened him and he wrote this poem:
For thirty years I searched for a master swordsman,
how many times did the leaves fall,
and the branches burst into bud?
But from the moment I saw the peach blossoms,
I’ve had no doubts.
—Transmission of Light, Case 12, Entangling Vines, Case 8
Later, Keizan, the Japanese teacher, wrote:
The village peach blossoms didn’t know
their own pink
but still they freed Lingyun
from all his doubts.
—PZI Miscellaneous Koans, Case 37
A quest, a treasure hunt, through cities overtaken by sands and ghosts and overwhelmed by the sea. We search for hidden teachings in scrolls, clay tablets, or dreams. Being lost is primary. In the koan lands we side with being lost when we turn toward uncertainty and wait, and whether we can bear it or not, a path opens. There is no end to this opening.
Distraction can have a long arc, and until the end of the story, you can’t say what’s a distraction and what’s a calling.
Day two of 2018 Winter Sesshin. John Tarrant introduces the great koan “No,” a gift from the ancestors. The gift is what happens when we hang out with the koan. “No” as the purest gate. When we step through, we find out we’re here! It’s not personal, you’re harmonizing with the universe. Transcript from a recording on January 17, 2018.
Tess Beasley invites our voices into the room, acknowledging the interwoven yet not-interwoven vessel of sesshin. We are each a unique presence, yet it is when personal identity and ambition recede that feeling and empathy emerge. PZI Digital Temple. As recorded April 11, 2021.
Allison Atwill talks about the experience of direct encounter in the Peach Blossom koan. Even when I am Mara, it is the treasure that is just for me. PZI Digital Temple. As recorded April 10, 2021.
PZI’s Jesse Cardin, Director of It’s Alive Zen in San Antonio, Texas, reminds us that lostness is part of peach blossoms, and explores how that might appear on the second day of a retreat—or whenever. As recorded April 9, 2021.
Curated links to Dharma talks, guided meditations, music, art, closing words, and more from Spring Sesshin 2021.
A guided koan meditation with John Tarrant to begin the Spring Sesshin. Koan: Peach Blossoms. 7 minutes as recorded April 7, 2021.
Peach blossoms can turn up anywhere, and the Valley Spirit appears. Depending on what is larger than us—even the reaching for it has it! PZI Digital Temple. Audio as recorded April 21, 2021.
The Lilies of New Life: It is spring and John reads poetry of the season. Original music performed by Jordan McConnell, as recorded Easter Sunday, April 4, 2021. PZI Zen Online.
Audio: PZI Zen online Allison sits with Awakening. What is it? Awakening experience is outside of our control or will. It comes in a from a direction we don’t know about – a direction we have darkened. The sufficiency of the moment. Hakuin Ikkaku as a teacher and seeing into your essential nature. As recorded May 5, 2020.
PZI Zen Online Audio: Seeing the crimson peach blossoms across a canyon, after seeking for 30 years, a teacher is enlightened. John Tarrant’s Meditation & Dharma Talk, plus comments from participants. As recorded April 19, 2020.