Solstice, Juneteenth, a Butterfly Flies Up!

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Even a time of torpor, or a time when plans come apart, or we thought the culture was going in one way and it’s going in another—we rely on the spaciousness, we rely on not what we’ve planned and schemed, but we rely on what’s been opened up in our hearts. Transcript from the PZI Zen Online recording from Sunday, June 21, 2020.

Listen to the original Audio recording

John: 

Hi, everyone. We’re just waiting as usual for the hamster wheels to turn and bring everyone on. So, maybe we’ll do a little sitting while we’re waiting and enjoy ourselves by doing nothing more with less effort. [bell] 

And just the sound of the bell is full of space and stillness and welcome. So, just feeling the time, feeling the moment. On the inside, whatever’s happening there’s always this light and spaciousness. And when we’re

Oldest Bronze temple bell – Korea

wondering “Where is that?”—it’s in the wondering. And if we’re wondering where it can be, well, it’s here. Here is something we always have. So just feeling it. Feeling it expand in the heart. Just letting yourself be carried, and letting yourself do a little less than you usually do when you think “I’m meditating.” And then, here we are. And you don’t have to do anything, really, to be happy at this moment. You don’t have to solve anything. [bell]

So, hi. Welcome. Nice to see you. Nice to be here. I want to start by reading something. There’s so much going on at the moment. You know we just had Juneteenth, which is the first time I’ve seen so much made of Juneteenth, which is kind of encouraging. It’s Solstice today which is the great turning of things bigger than us, the way we’re dependent on the environment and the planet. It’s like a switch goes off in the plants at Solstice, and something shifts in our hearts, and we shift into a different mode. Some of it is coming, but it’s also true that the days are now going to get shorter. In a way, it’s a good time for the inner life after the Solstice. It’s also Father’s Day, which, from being a father, I don’t think about much. But sometimes I think about my father. We’ll get into some of those things, but I wanted to start with a poem which is by Juan Ramon Jimenez:

Oceans

I have a feeling that my boat
has struck down there in the depths,
against a great thing.

And nothing
happens! Nothing… Silence…Waves

Nothing happens? Or has everything happened,
and are we standing now, quietly, in the new life?

That’s Robert Bly’s translation. I’ve translated that poem about twenty-five times and actually Robert Bly’s is still better. There we have it. It’s sort of this marvelous idea that, “Oh, when nothing seems to be happening, maybe all sorts of things are happening.” 

[PZI Leadership] Corey Hitchcock, who makes all these things happen for us, is in this temple right now. She wrote a thing on PZI Talk—we have a listserve where we share poems and conversations and discoveries and complaints and whatever—Corey wrote a thing saying how she was drowning in molasses. And this time has gotten her to where she couldn’t bear another zoom meeting, and not being able to go out anywhere, and things like that were getting to her. Then we got this whole molasses thread. 

Someone said this great thing about, “Well, there’s a koan that goes, ‘In the dark, darken further.’” This other person, Andrea, said, “Maybe you could molasses further.” Kevin Picard, who’s a teacher in England said,

The horizons of earth are vast and wide, the horizons of my life no longer so. My personal space, time-warped by the massive fear and grief. I’m weighed down by gravity. I dress in a molasses jacket and drag my feet from room to room. My inner bison, who loves to roam the plain, is appearing now in a virtual zoo.

So the antidote to gravity is levity. “I’m going to bounce around like a kangaroo!” The idea of the molasses jacket, it’s not a transcendently wonderful poem, but it’s fun sometimes. So, the molasses jacket. 

I think that lots and lots of things are happening. There’s this vast amazing movement where people are suddenly seeing old injustices that we always sort of knew about and didn’t know what to do about, or it was in the “too hard” basket or it was just a sorrow that everybody bore. 

Because someone once put a phone and a camera together, now we can see things happening. It’s sort of terrible and on the other hand it’s sort of exciting. The feeling of, “Oh, there’s a momentum gathering perhaps in the culture.” That’s been really great. People who never had any interest in Black Lives Matter are suddenly interested in why black lives matter—it’s kind of cool. We have all sorts of interesting things happening in the culture like that. Also we don’t know where anything’s going. We know it’s a time of uncertainty and also we don’t know where the epidemic’s going. It doesn’t seem to be diminishing. So we’ll see. Everyone seems to have accepted it as kind of a chronic thing because we mismanaged it so badly. So all of that. We’ll see how it all turns out.

In the midst of that, we’re here and we’re alive. The marvelous thing is to have this moment. And even if you’re dying, you’re alive. Even if we get a disease and we get very, very sick, we’re in the midst of life, even being sick. There’s a kind of intimacy in knowing—intimacy in that we’re all in this together. 

I was talking to a friend a couple days ago who is always wondering about—he’s a really bright, interesting, close friend and he’s always trying to work out, “Well, what is intimacy?” And he said, “Well, people don’t really listen to him when he talks.” I said, “Well, do you listen to them?” He said, “Well, when people talk to me…”  Because I’ve noticed he doesn’t listen to me, although it doesn’t affect whether I care about him or not. I don’t have to pretend he’s going to listen to me when we talk. We have other interesting areas to talk about.  He said, “The problem is, if I listen to what people are feeling, I’ll feel I have to fix it.” I suddenly said what I thought was this great thing—I said, “Well, if I were dying you wouldn’t feel you had to fix me.” 

But everybody’s dying. We’re all dying, so that’s what intimacy is. We’re just here with each other. We’re not changing each other. So I was thinking about the intimacy, the profound nature of just being with each other. Some things are just bigger than us, and I suppose intimacy, like dying, is bigger than us. And we can just surrender to it. In a way I hope it makes us more accepting of each other and more kind in those ways. Also to be kind to people unlike ourselves, which is what the whole thing is about right now, I think. The whole big political movement. 

What if difference is a good thing? And what if difference brings beauty and wonder and humor? So there’s that side of things. Then the other side, “Oh, well then, am I kind? And am I kind even to myself?” Sometimes yes and sometimes no. That seems a meditation thing—to meditate in a true spiritual path, we rest in a spaciousness that was there at the beginning before time began. Emptiness, whatever we’re calling it. In the beginning there was nothing, silence and emptiness intoxicated with its vastness. But every time we meditate—and that was before anything appeared—but that’s a something too, even silence is a something. We realize that being and non-being are inextricably tied up. 

Laozi said this great thing, he said, 

We’re always looking to extend being but actually we rely on non-being.

The Daoist thing. Here’s Laozi, saying, 

The Valley Spirit never dies.

We rely on the receptivity of the Valley Spirit.

The Valley Spirit never dies. It’s called the primordial feminine and the gateway of the primordial spirit, the mother deep. The gateway of the mother deep is called the root of heaven and earth. It is so fine, it’s like gossamer unceasing and it’s in everything, gossamer unceasing. It seems real and we can use it and it takes no effort.

So we rely on the spaciousness, we rely on not what we’ve already planned and schemed but we rely on what’s been opened up in our hearts. So even a time of torpor or a time when plans come apart, or we thought the culture was going in one way and it’s going in another. We can rely on that. And that’s kind of exciting. So the emptiness and the torpor or the molasses jacket, the molasses jacket of Covid—well, that’s what we got, we’ll call it meditation. That’s a good example of how the functioning of emptiness, the function of the light that’s in us, is happening even now. Because I think, “Oh I can’t get to it because I’m too torpid,” or “I don’t know what to do,” or “I’m lost.” We turn to the lostness—and suddenly it’s exciting and alive. Everybody else is interested in it so that’s great. The molasses jacket. 

A way of sort of pointing out that reliance…the dreamlike quality to it—to what we’re relying on. And, here’s Zhuangzi:

Once Zhuangzi dreamt he was a butterfly, a butterfly flitting gaily about. He knew nothing about Zhuangzi. Then suddenly he awoke and he was at once solidly and unmistakably himself, Zhuangzi. But he didn’t know whether he was a man who dreamt he was a butterfly or was a butterfly dreaming he was a man. Surely there’s a difference between Zhuangzi and a butterfly. This is what we call the transformation of things.

And we can say, “Oh, yeah, in my dream I am dreaming.” And my life is this sort of dream—and meditation shows that, because you notice that you’re meditating, and you think you’re meditating—meditation’s just a sample of consciousness that we notice—and then suddenly you’ll notice “Oh,” you weren’t actually meditating, you were thinking about something. Then you drop a level. Then a little while later you say, “Oh, I was thinking about something in a more subtle way,” and then you’ll drop a level again. Then at a certain stage, actually, you’re not concerned about whether you’re thinking about something or not. It’s not even that you’re privileging one thing over the other, it’s just that you’re being held by that Valley Spirit, that primordial vastness. It’s good to trust that. Everybody, in a way, understands this. Many great poets understand this. This is a poem I’ve read before, but I really love—and another poem that I’ve worked at translating quite a lot. It’s called “Night on the Great River:”

Night on the Great River

Dropping anchor at the misty island,
Loneliness increases at sundown.
In huge space the sky bends to the trees
and in the quiet river,
the moon comes down among us.

There’s another one here I want. Ah, this is Czeslaw Milosz, the great Polish poet. [reads]

Window

I looked out the window at dawn
and saw a young apple tree translucent in brightness.

And when I looked out at dawn once again
an apple tree laden with fruit stood there. 

Many years had probably gone by
but I remembered nothing of what happened in my sleep.

Is this “here” that I’m in? Or, the thing I’m remembering, was that many years ago or yesterday? Like that. 

What else am I going to do? I think what I’ll do is meditate now, and then I have some more things to say. I’m interested in the way the thoughts that appear in the mind are full of heart but also full of jokes. And so I want to talk about that a bit. The absurdity of the rules we live by without noticing that they’re rules. And I think this whole time is about that, really. We’ve been living by rules that we don’t need to live by—like that. So, okay, let’s meditate, eh? Let’s have a good time meditating together. [bell] 

So just to the beginning, just notice if you wish. Just noticing is stepping outside of things a bit. Just feel the heart, the mind. Feel the time. The only thing about the mysterious, interesting instruction about meditation is—don’t make yourself wrong. Don’t criticize yourself. Don’t find fault with yourself because you can tell that puts you in a cage. You know, assessing and judging. There was an old poet who said, “…that makes you a monkey in a cage.” Trying to change everything to make your thoughts feel good. The up-side, he said, was that when you don’t do that you’re a tiger roaming free. So be a tiger roaming free. We can tell that the mind wants to assess and measure and so on. Whatever your mind does—remember, grieve, all those things—are fine. But there’s a judging that comes in. So just don’t judge yourself. And don’t judge what’s happening in the mind. Then you’ll find that meditation’s that rare thing that I cannot do wrong. Here’s a koan for you. It’s a poem. It’s a venerable, ancient koan and it goes like this:

When the rain beats on the peach blossoms, a butterfly flies up.

When the rain beats on the peach blossoms, a butterfly flies up. So just let that sink into your heart, that image and whatever it does with you. Don’t try to work it out, you know what that gets you! You get something interesting that you worked out. But there’s something deeper that’s possible. So let it have you. Take the ride.When the rain beats on the peach blossoms, the butterfly flies up. 

And so whatever arises, that might be something to do with the butterfly flying up and the rain and the peach blossoms. In some way, we all of us rise up out of the brocade of everything and fly.

When the rain beats on the peach blossoms, the butterfly flies up.

The rain beats on the peach blossoms and the butterfly flies up. We were peach blossoms and then we we’re a butterfly. We’re just becoming a butterfly, nothing to be done about it. The rain beats on the peach blossoms, the butterfly flies up. Just being very patient with what the mind provides us. Not taking it too seriously. Whatever’s going on in my mind, it’s not something I have to adjust. I don’t have to reach over to the control knobs and change the channel. I mean I can, I suppose. Then I’m just on another kind of journey. In a way we let the universe, the Valley Spirit that never dies takes care of that. We just—oh, you know those times when we’re at cross-currents, we’re fighting ourselves, or we’re anxious. But, you know, it’s alright. We’re here and you have no responsibility for your thoughts whatsoever. You didn’t invent them and you don’t have to worry about them. You don’t have to feed them. 

When the rain beats on the peach blossoms, the butterfly flies up.

After a while, you just hang out with the language of the koan and accompany it the way you would a person you loved—that Way of intimacy. With that intimacy you realize you don’t have to do anything. The image and the koan is itself telling the story of you. The koan is opening your heart and you don’t have to do anything about it. Some long problem, perhaps, that you’ve had for a long time won’t be so hard. Threads will start to unravel themselves. We can listen to each other without waiting for the other one to finish so we can get our word in. Without pushing them around or surrendering to them. We’re just accompanying each other.

When the rain beats on the peach blossom, the butterfly flies up. [bell]

Meditation seems to have an invisible effect. Things get brighter and clearer but also we feel things that are acutely difficult more, but in a context that is larger and more generous. I think that the epidemic has given us a kind of retreat. In the midst of the torpor it’s a bit like a sleepy afternoon after lunch during a long meditation retreat when everybody’s trying to pretend they’re awake, when they’re really learning how to sleep sitting up in the meditation hall. An important art if you’re a serious Zen student. Somehow that decision where, “If I take a nap is that bad? Will that be bad? I might as well, it’s just as interesting to be sleeping and dozing sitting up…finding out what realms open there.” Also, then we see things clearly and we realize, “Oh, that which needs to change is seeing clearly, too.” That’s been a gift of the epidemic, the retreat quality that refreshes us. 

We don’t take the impossibility so seriously, is one way to put it. I wanted to read you a couple of things. Diving off after things I’ve dropped! It’s part of the molasses suit, I guess, dropping things. Corey and I had so mixed up the zoom for today, I couldn’t work out which was the right zoom to go on. Or was I going to go on the “next-time” zoom for another Sunday. So we had to have a rehearsal last night and open up this zoom together. It was really funny. Yep, that’s you. It looks like you. That’s how come I’m here, instead of another zoom where you wouldn’t be. That’s part of the whole molasses suit thing. 

Here’s some of the advantages of not making things clear. There is a writer I’m a fan of, Alberto Rios, who is from Nogales, some of you may know, in southern Arizona. Is Nogales in Mexico or the United States? Yes! It’s a border town, there are two Nogales. Rios says,

There are two Nogales, the Arizona side and the Sonora side. The border patrol has these lights there that you’d see on the highway, if they’re working at night. Big tall lights, and they pretend to be temporary but of course this is a militarized situation and they’re there to stay. And suddenly the lights all go on—“whomp whomp whomp”—and we hear these guys whooping. We look over the side, and they’d attached a basketball hoop to the border fence.

They were activating the motion sensors on the light so they could play basketball at night. I thought, that’s life on the border, you just go with it. Find your best way to get through it. [reads]

That was such a grace for me, it was such a great way to grow up on the border. It gave me so many options in language and food and everything else. It was an embodiment of the small English word “or,” which means a choice of either, or. “Or.” Most of the world doesn’t have that word. [So he’s striking a blow for “or.”]

They don’t live that word. There, it was everywhere. And to close that out is the saddest thing I can think of. 

And another, this is another great Mexican poet ,Octavio Paz. He said:

Wouldn’t it be better to turn life into poetry rather than to make poetry from life? And cannot poetry have as its primary objective, rather than the creation of poems, the creation of poetic moments?

So that’s what meditation does. It just creates moments of life, of happiness. I think I have time to do this other crazy thing. There’s a couple things I wanted to mention. I’ve been reading slave narratives, which when I last read, there’s new stuff [that’s been found] in the slave narratives. When I was first in the United States I didn’t really get what it’s like to live here. I still don’t, but, I know that I don’t know. 

This is William Parker, who’s one of the great slave narrators. He wrote it in 1866. This is during slavery time and there are a couple of touching things. He was a brave person who eventually fought his way free in a showdown with kidnappers and slave catchers, and shot his way out of there in sort of great Western style, and got to Canada. In Canada they asked him, “Are you wanted for crimes?” because he’d had to shoot his way free and people had died in the gunfight. Some of the slave catchers he and his people had killed in getting free so they didn’t get taken back and [themselves get] killed. So, “Are you wanted because you committed a crime or because you’re an escaped slave?” He said, “I’m an escaped slave.” And they said, “Very well, then.” So they let him into Canada. Says something for the Canadians. They didn’t make the crime that was necessitated by slavery a problem. 

Anyway, he has this touching thing—they saw people coming to the great house when he’s a little kid somewhere between age eight and ten. And he and his friend disappeared because they knew people were going to buy slaves. The slave master’s short of money and, [reads]

We might at any moment be sold to satisfy debt or replenish a failing purse. I felt myself to be really what I was. A poor, friendless slave boy. Livy, my friend, wanted to go home and see if they had sold his mother. But I did not care about going back since I had no mother to sell.

So that’s the stage. When he was young, he decided he would leave and then sometime later, [reads]

I’d been making preparations to leave [he’s more adult] ever since the master had threatened me. Yet I did not like to go without first having a difficulty with him. Much as I disliked my condition, I was ignorant enough to think that something beside the fact that I was a slave was necessary to exonerate me from blame in running away. A cross word, a blow, a good fright—anything would do. It didn’t matter whence or how it came. I told my brother Charles, who shared my confidence, to be ready. For the time was at hand when we should leave old Maryland together. I was only waiting for the first crooked word from the master.”

So, it’s immensely touching that he felt slavery itself wasn’t enough of an evil to flee. 

The touching humanity of that. I was interested again in just how hard the life of slavery was. There’s a touching story—a woman called Mary Prince, who was in Bermuda and she starts out her narrative feeling tremendous compassion for the woman who owns her, who is being so badly treated by her husband, who also treats her badly. The human moments, that slavery didn’t deprive the slaves of their humanity. Really important, I think. 

Okay. Let me give you another Alberto Rios poem. I’m a big fan, right now, of his:

A Double Sonnet

The border is a line that birds cannot see.
The border is a beautiful piece of paper folded carelessly in half.
The border is where flint first met steel, starting a century of fires.
The border is a belt that is too tight, holding things up but making it hard to breathe.
The border is a rusted hinge that does not bend,
The border is a blood clot in the river’s vein.
The border says stop to the wind but the wind speaks another language
  and keeps going.
The border is a brand, the double X of barbed wire, scarred into the skin of so many.
The border has always been a welcome stopping place
  but now is a stop sign, always red.
The border is a jump rope still there even after the game is finished.
The border is a real crack in an imaginary dam.
The border used to be an actual place
  but now it is the act of a thousand imaginations.
The border, the word border, sounds like order
  but in this place they do not rhyme.
The border is a handshake that becomes a squeezing contest.
The border smells like cars at noon and woodsmoke in the evening.
The border is the place between the two pages of a book where the spine is bent too far.
The border is two men in love with the same woman.
The border is an equation in search of an equals sign.
The border is the location of the factory where lightening and thunder are made.
The border is No No the Clown who can’t make anyone laugh.
The border is a locked door that has been promoted.
The border is a moat without a castle on either side.
The border has become a check point Charlie.
The border is a place of plans constantly broken and repaired and broken.
The border is mighty but even the parting of the seas created a path not a barrier.
The border is a big, neat, clean, clear black line on a map that does not exist.
The border is the line in new bifocals, below small things get bigger,
  above, nothing changes.
The border is a skunk with a white line down its back.

So, that’s Alberto. I want to read you two other poems about the space inside all of this. This is Milosz again. [reads]

The leaves glowing in the sun
the zealous hum of bumblebees.

From afar, from somewhere beyond the river
echoes of lingering voices. 

And the unhurried sounds of a hammer
gave joy not only to me.

Before the five senses were open and earlier than any beginning,
they waited, ready for all those who would call themselves mortals,
so that they might praise, as I do, life
that is, happiness.

And here’s Li Bai again, something I’ve read several times before, here: [reads]

Zazen on Jing Ting Mountain  (that’s sitting meditation)

The birds have vanished into the deep sky.
The last cloud drifts away now.

We sit together, the mountain and I,
until only the mountain remains.

That’s always available to us. So, what I want to do is to ask a couple of people if they have anything to say. [PZI Teacher] Sarah Bender, do you have anything you want to say?

Sarah Bender: Maybe just this—that living with “The rain on the peach blossoms, the butterfly flies up,” it occurred to me that sometimes I have this sense, that I have to guard myself against being attached to the comfort of peach blossoms, and against the fear of the discomfort of lifting up. Then I realized there isn’t any comfort or discomfort involved at all. And that just felt like a very happy discovery.

John: Nice. Thank you, yeah. It’s a mysterious thing, it’s a kind of escape from captivity but it’s also—it’s like that’s what happens when we’re born. We come out of the brocade and come into here. Life, that is happiness, as Milosz says. Wailing. [laughs] Thank you. Anything more? Okay.

Sarah: There was one other thing and that was just this connection came up with the—“She knew what she was doing, so she ‘dogged.’”

John: Oh yeah, yeah. “Does a dog have buddha nature? She knew what she was doing. She became a dog.” 

Sarah: And so there was that sense with the butterfly that there was—she knew what she was doing, so she butterflew.

John: Butterflew.

So, [PZI Member] Ireri Banal is on here from L.A., and she’s young enough to go out and demonstrate and things. Some of us, it can be bad for our health. I just wanted to—I hadn’t muted you, Ireri, if you want to say anything—because I hadn’t warned you, of course. Did you want to say something?

Ireri: Yeah, sure. Morning everybody, depending on your time zone. For me ,what came up during the meditation today was—I felt the wings on the butterfly. There was wind coming in through my window and so I felt the flapping of the butterfly. I’ve felt like there’s a lot of—being at demonstrations, oftentimes you’re hearing people’s stories, and [from] mothers who’ve lost loved ones. So it gets very heavy, it feels like that rain is just pouring and pouring. And just kind of waiting for a moment when it’s all just going to stop, and then you realize it’s not going to stop. It’s just going to keep going. With the meditation today, it just was, like, the sense of purpose behind that rain, of being what gets that butterfly to go up and flap its wings. So, that was what I was feeling in the meditation, was the flapping of the wings.

John: Thanks. Hey, nice to see you. Awesome. Great. Who else is on here? [PZI Teacher] Allison Atwill, I know is on here.

Allison: Hi. I was very struck by Alberto Rios’ poem about the border. How much effort it takes—once I’ve got that black line on the map—in my mind, of what this sort of membrane or line that I’ve decided, “It’s got to go this way,” or “It can’t go that way.” And how much effort it takes to enforce my stance, my rule, my line there. 

Then I was thinking of the rain coming down, in the koan. That was the most pronounced image, the one I felt the most. The soluble quality of the rain, of water pouring down and through things. How when, in the meditation today, I felt like when I came and rested inside myself that it was like dropping a tea bag into a cup of hot water where everything is—it’s like I’m steeped inside of life. The border dissolves on its own. Also, something else you said, you said something about that when the border dissolves, when I enter into my life, I enter this, right now, that we feel things more, but we feel them in this larger context. So, it doesn’t feel so hard in that way. Like, there’s no effort but there’s more—I don’t know. It can feel that the sorrow’s not just mine, it’s the world’s sorrow. Or joy, or any emotion goes in. Just feeling sort of watery this morning. 

John: Very good. Okay. Corey Hitchcock, you’re the person who brought up the molasses jacket, do you want to say anything?

Corey: Yes, actually Kevin Picard was the one who brought up the molasses jacket. I was just in it. I found myself wondering, if I’m a butterfly I wish I had a chrysalis, because there would be some end to my gestation. I would have a sense of, “Okay, I’m this big so I need this long to transform.” Because I don’t have that—I’m really stubbornly looking at that. And then, I realized a butterfly, when it flies up, doesn’t celebrate the end of its confinement. It just dries its wings, you know. So it’s the continuum. It helped. I saw the wheel again.

John: Very good. Thank you. So, what we’re going to do now is a little bit more meditation and then a little bit of another couple things to say. Okay? So, “Quick! Don’t get ready.” The peace is already here in our hearts. [bell] 

So once again, what’s it like to be here in this shape? It’s kind of your job being here, being you. That’s why we came. What is it like to be here? 

The rain beats on the peach blossom and the butterfly flies up. 

Not to be at war with anything in your own heart. The rain. The peach blossom. 

[PZI Member] Michael Wilding: [plays saxophone]

The rain and the peach blossom. The butterfly. [bell] 

Here’s the great Li Bai, the great wild poet from long ago in China:

Question and Answer on the Mountain

You ask for what reason I stay on the green mountain.
I smile but do not answer.

My heart is at ease, peach blossom is carried far off by flowing water.
I have heaven and earth in the human realm.

The legend about Li Bai was that he wasn’t a normal poet, he was actually an immortal who’d been banished temporarily from heaven for bad behavior. And actually he was just tremendously disrespectful—he drank a lot because he thought drinking had to do with composing poetry. I don’t know, that might not—anyway, he seemed to like that whole stage when you’re not quite sober and not quite drunk sort of thing. But mainly he was always getting in trouble with the authorities, because he was always speaking up for poor people and things like that. So, anyway:

You ask for what reason I stay on the green mountain.
I smile but do not answer. 

My heart is at rest, [It’s a good thing when you have it, yeah?]
peach blossom is carried far off by flowing water.
I have heaven and earth in the human realm.

One of the things I notice about this time is that, as in a retreat, I want to really be in it. I want to make the discoveries I want to make. I know that we’re all—the thing about intimacy comes because we know, we know we can’t stay here long, as the great old Chinese master said. We can live our lives as if we’re dying. And we can live with each other as if the other person is dying. There’s something very tender and incredibly vast about that. Then suddenly nobody’s dying. We were always here and we always will be here. We’re not born, we won’t die and we start to identify with the whole brocade of the peach blossoms and everything that holds us all. And we’re part of that. Part of the birds and the trees and the traffic and the people in the streets and everything. You don’t have to agree with that or believe that. It’s more like an observation of what happens deep in the meditation world. Here we are. At the heart of the practice there actually is light and peace. Just to say that. 

It’s good to remember that when you’re not feeling that way. It’s a place where you just blink, or you click your red shoes together and you’re there. You don’t have to do anything to get there. You have to stop thinking you’re not there. Okay, I’ll stop it there. 

The other thing I want to say is that is that [PZI Member] Jordan McConnell is going to sing the Four Vows for us. Next week, we’re in retreat. So we won’t be doing a Sunday like this. It’s very easy to join the retreat and we give great scholarships. If you want to join the retreat, have at it. It might deepen things and open your heart and make you happier and give you more joy. So, thank you very much. We’ll do the Four Vows and then the final word. 

Jordan McConnell [plays guitar, sings] The Four Boundless Vows…

John: [bell]

Thank you Jordan. So, it’s come to this. Here’s the last reflection for you. This is Ikkyu, who had a great awakening experience while floating on a boat turning on a lake ,and hearing a crow cry. So, there’s hope for us all. He’d kind of given up and taken up meditating on a boat… [reads]

When I reflect there’s no otherness between you and me.
Outside the mind there is no other mind,
outside the heart there is no other heart.

When I reflect there’s no otherness between you and me. Outside the heartmind there is no other heartmind, outside here there is no other here. 

So here we are. Thank you so much for coming. As I say, in two weeks time, we’ll be doing this Sunday thing. Next week, we’re pretty much closing down most of our events except Tuesday evening [PZI Teacher] Tess Beasley is going to do her event (for people who are jonesing for meditation, people who need their meditation for the week.) It’s very kind of her. Otherwise the teachers are taking time off before the retreat, then we’ll be back the week after. I hope that’s clear. Look on the website if it’s not. Corey and I might have even sorted it out by then.

Thank you very much and blessings. 

Listen to the original Audio recording