Great Summer Sesshin, opening eve: Our first in-person sesshin in over 2 years, due to Covid. John Tarrant introduces Shitou’s song, Taking Part in the Gathering, his translation together with Joan Sutherland. In this sutra, Shitou is trying to say what reality actually is. The myriad things are your own self—you look at the world and the world looks back. Whatever appears, enter there! No being for countless eons has ever fallen out of Buddha nature. Recorded June 13th, 2022, at Santa Sabina Center.
Shopping for enlightenment. What is this? Things come at us and over us during an enlightenment experience—sometimes quite unusual. You are being carried by the Dao; it doesn’t care what else you’ve got going on. Music for meditation from Jordan McConnell and Micheal Wilding. Recorded May 15, 2022.
The Rhinoceros has a suggested shopping list for John. Among the items, like hay and jam, is enlightenment. Yes, you really can find all of these things at the market, right in the middle of your busy life. 15-minute excerpt from the Sunday Session: Enlightenment While Shopping for Jam, recorded May 15, 2022.
“I like to find instances of Zen in pop culture where people have never heard of Zen. Along these lines, it’s always nice to have what you think is going on, turn out to be not what is going on. This is particularly so when what you think is going on is embarrassing or sad. This is the basic Buddhist enlightenment story: that what is going on is more interesting than you think.”
Love is an enlightenment story available to everyone, and that story includes being attacked by demons as well as being showered with roses. If we widen our gaze, in love, we discover what we like about ourselves and how we want to live our lives.
Transmission happens when we let our hearts open. It comes from a free heart. Babies are transmission devices! Taking up the koan you are given—a little temple to live in. Koans do what they do without consulting anyone. The work reveals a wonderful quality, of the world coming to meet us. The great lesson: It’s not outside of you, and you can’t legislate your own enlightenment! 4 Vows: Jordan McConnell. As recorded March 21, 2021.
John Tarrant shares his interest in investigating reality through inquiry koans, koan types, the huatou of koans, stories, and more. As recorded in Winter Sesshin, January 14, 2020.
Jesse reimagines Deshan’s classic enlightenment story. He looks at some of the essential features of the journey of awakening, how we make koans our own, and the role that imagination plays in Zen. PZI Zen Online. Audio as recorded April 22, 2020.
On the second day of retreat, John Tarrant talks about the second koan of the triptych, “How does an enlightened person fall into a well?” How do we as practitioners handle major issues in our lives which cause us to fall into darkness or depression? When things are bleak or difficult, the opportunity is to turn toward our practice and the teachings or our community. January 21, 2013.
“Two swords are crossed, there’s no way to retreat; you’re a lotus in the fire, you can’t help it – you’re determined to go higher.”
John talks about the concept of enlightenment and serenity, and managing to love and appreciate the inner life of the mind.
“It’s passed midnight, the moon has not risen, in the thick, deep dark, you meet a face from long ago: but you don’t recognize them. No need to be surprised by this.”
John Discusses koan tradition, the “five steps” of enlightenment, and communication between student and teacher.