PZI Teacher Archives
Zhaozhou taught, “The greatest way isn’t difficult if you don’t pick and choose.”
—Blue Cliff Record Case 2 (translation by John Tarrant & Joan Sutherland, titled: Zhaozhou’s Greatest Way Isn’t Difficult)
Note: Zhaozhou is quoting from Third Ancestor Sengcan‘s “Trust in Mind,” a foundational Chan text
The subject is the Dharma, the deepest matters, our own true face. One way to look at these matters is through the Blue Cliff Record, a compilation of occasions for revealing who you are.
It’s remarkable that the Picking & Choosing koan appears four times in the Blue Cliff Record, which contains only one hundred cases. So, what to do with it? Whatever you see is going to be true, it’s going to belong to you.
We can fairly easily see that not picking and choosing will help free us from some entanglements. At first you might think it’s about not caring, but actually it’s the opposite. It’s to do with befriending reality, listening to reality with a tender care. Complete dharma talk audio from Sunday, June 26, 2022. 43 minutes.
Michelle Riddle tells a sesshin story about a band of weed whackers that came to be in concert with everything. From John Tarrant’s Sunday Session on Not Picking & Choosing, recorded June 26, 2022.
In sesshin, our feelings are amplified, and we get to see what it’s like to have them fully. Allison Atwill reports on a utility bill that contained the dread of all space and time. From John Tarrant’s Sunday Talk on Not Picking & Choosing on June 26, 2022.
Tess Beasley shares stories about encountering unexpected sounds, delayed luggage, and the chaos of moving. Recorded in John Tarrant’s Sunday session on Not Picking & Choosing, June 26, 2022.
John Tarrant’s complete Sunday Talk: The Great Way Is Not Difficult; It Just Avoids Picking & Choosing. Recorded June 26, 2022, in the PZI Online Temple.
Michael Wilding’s solo flute during John Tarrant’s Sunday Talk: The Great Way Is Not Difficult; It Just Avoids Picking & Choosing. Recorded on June 26, 2022 in the Online Temple.
Everybody, every time, has its own difficulty and crisis. This is ours. We can trust our own lives that brought us here, and perhaps we have something to do here. And we don’t know what that is but we’ll find it as we keep walking. The thing about the meditation path is, I don’t have to think a lot about what’s mine to do. You just give yourself to the meditation, and it’s produced for you. It’s given to you. The path opens by itself, you know. Transcript of PZI Zen Online Sunday Talk with John Tarrant, recorded March 29 2020.
“Koans light up a life that may have been dormant in you; they hold out the possibility of transformation even if you are trying to address unclear or apparently insoluble problems.” Originally published in Shambhala Sun Magazine, November 2004.