Yunmen taught, “Everybody has a light inside. When you’re looking for it, you can’t see; it’s dark, dark, hidden. What is this light that everybody has?”
He himself answered, “The kitchen pantry, the entrance gate.”
Then he said, “It’s better to have nothing than something good.”
—The Blue Cliff Record, Case 86
Dharmakaya koans open the body of reality—this is one of those koans: Yunmen’s “What is your light?” The light is always happening, so it is a good thing to notice. In times like these, this koan is one to ally with. Is there an art of meditation? It begins and ends with you. Music from Michael Wilding, Amaryllis Fletcher & Jordan McConnell.
A student asks Baizhang, “What is the most marvelous thing—a matter of special worth?” He answers, “Sitting alone on Mt. Courage Peak.” The vastness is always there, inside and outside. The possibility of imaginative responses in times of change. The wisdom of an indigenous storyteller who embodies a much longer timeline of radical earth changes. The freedom of not being you. PZI Zen Online, as recorded Dec. 13, 2020. Music posted separately.
Hanging Lanterns in the Autumn Valley with John Tarrant. The Valley Spirit is holding us—the mother deep. A big moment in our time, post-election. How to cope with Bad Emperors and accord with change. What is my place in the mandala? Finding joy in the thusness of things in all circumstances. Not seeing the light is also the light. “What is medicine? Bring me something that is not medicine.” Bring me something that is not the light! PZI Zen Online, as recorded Nov. 8, 2020.
PZI Fall Sesshin Audio Excerpt: John Tarrant Roshi’s opening talk. As recorded October 1, 2020.
PZI Zen Online: Audio excerpt from Tess Beasley Sensei’s opening talk at Fall Sesshin. Harvest Moon, and leaning into the images that hold us for sesshin, the ancient vessel. Moon haikus. “What Is Your Light?” As recorded October 1 2020.
Hanging Lanterns at the Gates of the Autumn Temple: John continues working with Yunmen’s koan, What is your light? Huangbo’s calm mysterious joy. Music on saxophone by Michael Wilding. PZI Zen Online, as recorded Sept. 27, 2020.
As old agreements fall apart, practice is a kindness. What is the image of our time? A lamp that lights another, without losing any radiance. It carries the changes, in the warmth of fire. What is meditation? Any moment of sanity! Michael Wilding on flute, Amaryllis Fletcher on violin, and Jordan McConnell on guitar for the 4 Vows. As recorded on Sunday, September 6, 2020.
In times of chaos, disturbance, and disintegration—your own experience and distress is the fundamental key to Zen. “What is most urgent for me?” Yunmen throws the questioner back into their own field: “The very you that’s afraid they do not have the answer.” We are born into particular radiance of ‘not two’ and gradually take on separation. If we rest in who we are, we let the universe see us. PZI Zen Online talk as recorded June 2, 2020.