David Parks Roshi of Blue Grass Zen in Kentucky continues with the koans of Dongshan. Dharma talk: The One Who Is Not Sick, PZI Zen Online. As recorded April 22, 2021.
PZI Zen Online: John Tarrant on the Journey into Awakening in zen, in our lives, and how it purifies. Deshan’s cart full of Diamond Sutra commentaries and our own strategies of resistance. Music from Jesse Cardin, Amaryllis Fletcher, Jordan McConnell. As recorded Nov. 15 2020.
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, 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: We are in the midst of great civil unrest around racism and the institutions that support it. Li Bai, Du Fu, Dalung & Primo Levi speak about what remains, what lives, what holds us in the universe—even as we feel most perishable, sad, defeated. The light is still there in all things even without a foundation to stand on. As recorded June 14 2020.
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.
Sarah Bender Roshi reflects on a koan: Wisdom has no knowledge, but there is nothing it does not know. Therefore, purity pervades with abundance. This is a purity of inclusion and intimacy, not exclusion and definition. That’s abundance. You are this abundance. As written April 17 2020.
Allison relays the story of the encounter between Manjushri and Vimalakirti. Manjushri, among the 32,000 Bodhisattvas sent by Buddha to Vimalakirti’s , and asks him on his sick bed: ‘How do the Bodhisattvas enter the gate of non-duality?’ The response is an intimate silence. Allison’s story includes the karmic path that his daughter, Moon Like 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.
Steve Lucas talks about the synchronicities of winning and losing from his perspective as a financials trader and a concerned father.
Steve Lucas looks at the injustice of Fayan’s determination – and also lets us into his zen practice and his world as a competitive financial trader and concerned father.
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….