We and everything we perceive
are interwoven and not interwoven,
and this interweaving continues on and on,
while each thing stands in its own place.
—Excerpt from Taking Part in the Gathering, PZI translation of the sutra attributed to Shitou Xiqiang
Great Summer Sesshin, opening eve: Our first in-person sesshin in over 2 years, due to Covid. John Tarrant introduces Shitou’s song, Taking Part in the Gathering, his translation together with Joan Sutherland. In this sutra, Shitou is trying to say what reality actually is. The myriad things are your own self—you look at the world and the world looks back. Whatever appears, enter there! No being for countless eons has ever fallen out of Buddha nature. Recorded June 13th, 2022, at Santa Sabina Center.
The small self is always trying to hold off the world. But we are really a kind of flow. We feel the warm empathy at the bottom of all things. All things have Buddha nature. Not opposing reality is the beginning of all awakenings.
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.
This is 8th century Zen ancestor Shitou Xiqian’s great song, the Sandokai—or Taking Part in the Gathering, as translated by Joan Sutherland and John Tarrant. This foundational text is often read at Winter Solstice. “When you let these words in, you encounter the ancestors.” Winter Sesshin January, 2020.