PZI Teacher Archives
John revisits the awakenings and koans of the great teachers, among them Yunmen and Linji. The love, and attention, and faithfulness at the heart of the stories and teachings of the Chan ancestors is their gift to us. And everything we bring to it is an addition into this great heritage, and is part of the layering. Transcript from a video talk in Fall Sesshin 2019.
There was a teacher called Luopu, a Chinese teacher, and he said this interesting thing. He said, “You have to directly realize the source outside of the teachings.” That’s the whole thing about it. That’s Bodhidharma’s thing, the direct realization outside of scriptures. The scriptures are nice and the teachings are nice, but really, the direct understanding—the direct meeting with life—the direct meeting with awakening is the thing.
So…tonight I want to talk a little bit about the course of the inner work — the dharma work — in terms of this book, the Book of Serenity. And you know, it pretty much is the second case is the one we’re going to mention, about Bodhidharma meets The Emperor Wu.
John Tarrant in Fall Sesshin 2019. Being lost or between places is a fundamental human predicament. Being lost delivers you to yourself with an unknown outcome. The teacher takes away the student’s need to know what’s unfolding on their pilgrimage. Zen likes predicaments as signs that things want to change.
Allison relays a story of an encounter between Manjushri and Vimalakirti. Manjushri, among the 32,000 bodhisattvas sent by Buddha to Vimalakirti’s sickbed, asks, “How do bodhisattvas enter the gate of nonduality?” The response is an intimate silence. Allison’s story includes the karmic path that his daughter, Moonlike Beauty, bore on her way to enlightenment.
John Tarrant in Fall Sesshin 2019. Zen likes predicaments, uncertainty allows us to enter life more fully. The koans are allies in this. The unexpected questions are often those that help the most. To all the strategies that defend against life, a Zen entreaty: “Become more lost.” John Tarrant in Fall Sesshin 2019.
John revisits the awakenings and koans of the great teachers, among them Yunmen and his teachings. In the layered quality of the teachings there is a common thread in our lineage: we are all in it together, all held by this great path, we put ourselves in the vessel and see what happens. Each of us holds a piece of the story—trust the piece you hold. As recorded Fall Sesshin 2019.
John talks about the warm intimacy of the ‘the dark’ – the uncolonized zone where koans work with us. Intimacy in teachings is used often as an equivalent for enlightenment. Koans open gates and bring us inside that mystery. Some categories of koans: Predicament koans, Heart Changing koans, Inquiry koans and more.
The great Chan teacher Luopu’s deathbed story, and his emphasis on the importance of a “direct meeting with the source” outside the teachings—you can’t just read about it. “Don’t grasp principles with words.” The story features the Book of Serenity’s compassion for the whole process toward enlightenment, for these wonderful teachers. Dharma talk in Fall Sesshin. Video as recorded 2019.
“No merit whatsoever!” Bodhidharma responds to Emperor Wu in Case 2, in the Book of Serenity. David follows Bodhidharma’s path, and the process of practice.
Allison Atwill talks about the key moment in Baizhang’s Fox koan where the odd old man in the audience who stays behind one day after the sangha leaves to talk about his 500 lives as a fox.
David Weinstein examines Emperor Wu’s exchange with Bodhidharma. His question: “What is the first principle of teaching? Vast emptiness, nothing holy.” The Emperor wants to be acknowledged, but….
Allison Atwill takes us into the moment in Baizhang’s Fox koan when the old man finally stays and the implications for our world view. Recorded at Fall sesshin Land of Medicine Buddha, Soquel, CA.