PZI Teacher Archives
So, if you stop being afraid, if you stop being wonderful, if you stop being charming, if we stop charming each other, we’re just here in the vastness with no agenda, and that’s the Daoism that’s at the core of Chan. Emptiness is here. That’s what I think is a good thing.
The nice thing about falling is it’s already happened, you know? It started already; there’s not much you can do about it. So you’re kind of free, in a way. It’s sort of like being condemned: Knowing you’ll die tomorrow—well, you can do anything you want tonight.
John Tarrant gives a talk on Zhaozhou’s NO: This koan is often offered as a first “gate,” but I think you need to already be in trouble and falling before it’s useful. Life is always offering us that cliff—that door of falling. When you’re falling, you can’t screw it up because actually there’s not a lot you can do. But what you do will be very free and won’t be constrained by the usual. From a recording made in Fall Sesshin 2022.
Allison Atwill reads mysterious and hopeful final words from the book, The Little Prince. Did he make it safely? We don’t know. Recorded at close of the evening during Fall Sesshin, October 6, 2022. 4 minutes.
Sesshin is an embrace which allows greater freedom to appear, and it is deeply mysterious. We don’t do it for a particular outcome or we would be constraining ourselves. We are free and easy wandering. In the koan, Emperor Wu wants a method and a first principle of the holy teaching. Bodhidharma answers, There isn’t a principle! You can’t confine it. Chan is trusting uncertainty, it is not something to be believed. Vows from Amanda Boughton, closing words from Tess Beasley. Complete session recorded on October 7, 2022.
Falling into the well of sesshin involves dissolving the you that had the problem. In Zen we are solving things one level down. We all have this ability, though it can be hard to see. John retells Jiashan’s strange journey toward awakening: He was falling and found purchase with an unexpected teacher, the mysterious Boat Monk. Comments and “teach us!” responses from teachers and sangha are included. Complete session from October 5, 2022.
On entering a great sesshin, what is the tone? A quiet, receptive sense of modesty and humility, a humility of the earth, fallen into like Psyche into the underworld. Allowing the fall and encountering whatever appears, whatever one meets, is essential. Complete sesshin talk from October 5, 2022.
A complete audio record of talks from PZI’s Live-Online Fall Sesshin 2022, October 4-9, 2022.
A gorgeous lilting ballad, “Now Westlin’ Winds,” sung a cappella by Jordan McConnell, of all things red thread and the passions of fall: hunters shooting, wild birds taking flight, and the field of love. The ballad is also known as “Song composed in August,” a Robert Burns song-poem, written around 1783. Recorded on October 7th, 2022 in Fall Sesshin.
When you are falling, there is not a lot you can do about it, but you are no longer constrained by your usual preoccupations. Awakening, too, is in the category of things you can’t do anything about. Sesshin’s Gate 3 is NO—or Mu—the famous dharmakaya koan that opens the body of reality. NO casts away all the consciousness you have had until now. Music with Jordan McConnell, closing words with Allison Atwill from the story of The Little Prince. Complete session recorded October 6, 2022.
When you are falling, there is not a lot you can do about it, but you are no longer constrained by your usual preoccupations. Awakening too, is in the category of things you can’t do anything about. The apparatus of certainty is circumvented and the universe is manifesting and unfolding through us. Excerpt from a sesshin dharma talk recorded October 6, 2022.