PZI Teacher Archives
book of koans
The subject is the Dharma, the deepest matters, our own true face. One way to look at these matters is through the Blue Cliff Record, a compilation of occasions for revealing who you are.
It’s remarkable that the Picking & Choosing koan appears four times in the Blue Cliff Record, which contains only one hundred cases. So, what to do with it? Whatever you see is going to be true, it’s going to belong to you.
Deep in Summer Sesshin, we are in the middle of the Blue Cliff Record. We, ourselves, are under the Blue Cliff, with Yunmen and Yunmen’s friends. We are all those people. The Blue Cliff is still being written, and we’re helping out with that project.
It is mysterious how we can avoid the Way, even when we most want to enter it. It’s good to know we have a vessel that carries us. We can listen to everything that arises. From Not Picking & Choosing Part 1, a PZI Sunday Talk from June 26, 2022. 7 minutes.
Here is a curation of sesshin dharma talks on a single page, for easy finding and listening. A sesshin is always more than the sum of its parts or its recorded talks. There are morning rituals, greetings, incense passed magically through the screen, the changing light, rich silences, moments of humor, tech gremlins, tears, synchronicities, dogs barking, dreams, and awakenings that we share. It is the timeless play of the universe, with each other. As recorded in the PZI Digital Temple, June 22-27, 2021.
Second evening talk of Summer Sesshin 2021: John Tarrant introduces the great master of the Blue Cliff and the great questions and koans of his awakening.
How does the bodhisattva of compassion use all those hands and eyes? In some way, through the vastness of hands and eyes, the koan speaks of the vast currents of the universe that carry and hold us. John Tarrant’s morning meditation & talk, Part 1 of this two-session Dragons of the Blue Cliff 1-Day Retreat. In the PZI Digital Temple, as recorded June 6, 2021.
We’ve been in a long monastic retreat during this pandemic. Time has slowed. We are opening up gradually now to the world, as more people are vaccinated. We realize we are not going back to anything. The time is changing. We’re all stepping off into the mysterious. Musician: Jordan McConnell. PZI Zen Online: Sunday talk as recorded May 23, 2021.
John Tarrant begins with a wild Daoist story from the Zhuangzi, about a giant fish named Kun. The freedom is in your own breast and the koan path opens the way. Includes meditation segments, music from Michael Wilding, vows from Jordan McConnell & Amaryllis Fletcher, Cantor. PZI Zen Online. As recorded May 2, 2021.
Just at this moment, the whole universe is holding us up. It’s nice for it to have a good job like that. That’s the thing that Master Ma said, the great master Mazu, “At a certain stage you have to make yourself a raft and a ferry for others if you want to go forward from the place you cannot go forward from.” This letting yourself feel—feel the moment and how it spreads out. There is no other moment. There is this, this, this, the Blue Dragon moment. It goes out through the galaxies.
Value a sort of play and see if you can break the koan—the koan will be amused. And see it and let it into your heart, and see what comes, or follow it around, or have it follow you. And finally you’ll realize, “Oh, I’m here. I’m free.”
Whatever your condition is, you can see the “I have joy.” Out of that emptiness, out of what seems unpromising—the dark material, the valley spirit, the enigma, out of the mystery, out of what I don’t understand—it just appears. The joy just appears.
PZI Zen Online Audio: Allison sits with the beautiful preface to the Blue Cliff Record, before Bodhidharma’s encounter with Emperor Wu. Noticing our strategies for controlling experience, which shut life out. Issa’s story of love and loss. As recorded April 21 2020.