PZI Teacher Archives

Secret Affinities: Knock on Any Door


Knock on any door—someone will answer. Letting koans teach you koans is the way. Anything that arises is part of the work. It’s not following instructions. John Tarrant’s Sunday Talk as recorded March 27, 2022.


KOAN: Knock on any door, someone will answer.

—from Xuedou’s preface to The Blue Cliff Record

It’s a wild strange time, like so many in the universe, like it always is.

Secret affinities: not affinity to anything. There are secret connections everywhere. When you hang around a zendo you start to notice this. When you work with koans you notice this…

The Dao is carrying you—the light comes up from your feet and gradually fills you. And then not being able to log on to Zoom when you’re friends are all waiting for you: that’s it too. That’s definitely it too.

Putin, and the War. Unexpected empathy for Putin: even monsters have a part of it.

Snake Island: The Russians arrived and the inhabitants of the island said, “Go fuck yourselves!” even though they had no arms.

Zhaozhou’s What if it’s a disaster?

Opening the panty door, and your actually just looking for rice and coffee filters—and there a spiral galaxy. There’s no end to it!

We’re in the midst of this vast wonderful horrible, fundamentally wonderful dream.

Happiness is a kind of natural event. I was kind of lost as a young person and didn’t realize I was actually happy. Life is the thing that makes us happy. It’s like really truly listening…you’re not dragging things in to give yourself a self.

With  haiku, the know happens and the haiku is a description of a knock. Knock on any door and you get THIS!

Some of John’s haiku:

any fragment of bird
is all of bird
the songs have come back

Sound of rain
not wanting anything
but certainly, I’m on a journey

up at the lake
the geese
contemplating nests in the reeds
from here i can see the war

More poems:

Emily Dickinson on Witchcraft & I
Marie Howe’s The Gate

More on moments that change a life:

The Dog Carries Amnesty in its Mouth: Dostoyevsky’s anmesty
Crow with No Mouth: Ikkyu meditating in a boat on a lake in the night
From the Window of a Talk with a Jailer

You knock on any door, suddenly YOU answer: your own true being answers.


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