PZI Teacher Archives

Spring Sesshin: The Interwoven Journey of Sesshin and Life


Tess Beasley invites our voices into the room, acknowledging the interwoven yet not-interwoven vessel of sesshin. We are each a unique presence, yet it is when personal identity and ambition recede that feeling and empathy emerge. PZI Digital Temple. As recorded April 11, 2021.



The pleasure of being together here in retreat—even online—is enhanced by our PZI ritual of bringing all the voices into the room on the first evening. We become the temple. The way our words and presences form the vessel is incredibly unique every time we gather. We are all made part of each other in this way.

We are always making the world and each others’ journey. It is a call-and-response with the universe.

A line in the Sandokai  (known at PZI as Taking Part in the Gathering) says:

We and everything we perceive are interwoven and not interwoven, while each thing stands in its own place.

Jordan McConnell’s music, and birds in the background, become us. Jordan has a tool for making guitars that was created by a Japanese tool maker, which is composed of as many generations of knowledge as layers of metal. All that becomes a guitar. We become Jan Brogan’s bell and all the bells before this one. We bring them all to life.

Reading Basho’s travelogue, The Narrow Road to the Interior, he and we are in constant companionship on the way. Each moment rises to meet all those that have gone before. Basho was a deep student of many traditions, influenced by many poets and teachers before him, among them Li Bai and Du Fu, Ikkyu, and Rikyu.

Michelle Riddle Sensei said recently, “We never truly know what we are participating in.” Our unseen contributions—a look, a word, a smile help others wake up. We just arrive and trust the weaving. The desire, the weaving, is there in our expressions of the experience of being here.

We give an unknown gift to the the world. Basho learned from his teacher Ikkyu to listen to nature. We take in all the teachings, but as Basho learned and emphasizes, you must make them your own. A passage from his volume, his insight:

The relative un-importance of individual personality—the relaxing of ambition allows feeling to emerge.

Poets: Basho, Ikkyu, Rikyu, Li Bai, Du Fu.



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