Modern Zen Luminaries: A series of Zen Buddhist scholars, writers, poets, translators, and practitioners join PZI’s Jon Joseph Roshi for lively discussions online, with a focus on our Chan lineage. Includes all recordings beginning with the series’ launch in September 2021.
Befriending your life, your koan, your own heart mind—not using your meditation for anything: no intention to improve yourself; not getting on board with the mind. Zen & The Art of Meditation, Part lll: October 17, 2021.
John Tarrant talks about living in an underworld time, in a descent as a culture and as a world, and as a planet. Accepting the descent, and accepting the quality of being lost when it appears, is profoundly important. And there’s a great, strange, and interesting mystery in that.
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.
John Tarrant introduces us to the great collaborative group of teachers, including Yunmen, who gathered at the Blue Cliff with Yuanwu to develop The Blue Cliff Record.
Peach blossoms can turn up anywhere, and the Valley Spirit appears. Depending on what is larger than us—even the reaching for it has it! PZI Digital Temple. Audio as recorded April 21, 2021.
Deshan is determined to prove his scholarly certainty. He encounters two teachers who help him see the light. John talks about refuge; What is it? Why take refuge? What is the rakusu? PZI’s approach—working with refuge vows as koans. Zen ultimately rests in mystery and uncertainty. Linji says, “Have confidence in the light always working inside you.” Music with Jordan McConnell. Sunday talk as recorded Feb. 28th, 2021.
Practice. The notion of practice, as something you embody, and you walk through, and you are—rather than something you add, like something added to gasoline. There’s also a sense of moving in the dark, in some way that’s positive. So that in a practice, “not knowing” is on your side.
Rilke said, “Life is always right.” Whatever I think about that saying, this is the life I have, and I can’t have another life. And really, fundamentally I don’t want another one, because this one is so rich and compelling, no matter what’s going down right now.
Audio PZi Zen Online: our lives right now are an exercise in not knowing. Surprising intimacy in new forms of communication and meditation. But really there is nothing to hold onto. And that vastness is filled with light. These three koans reflect that in the time before we know or name. As recorded July 16 2020.
Green Glade of Meditation: Our culture needs to renew its dreams. We are still held by vastness, and it is good when the bottom falls out: our job is to work in harmony with the universe. Take the role of host for everything that appears. Allow “not knowing.” If you know who you are, you can not take a step! Nothing before us, and only a wake behind. The empathic nature of emptiness, blessings of the goddess. PZI Zen Online, as recorded July 26th, 2020.
PZI Zen Online: Three threads: Anna Swier’ s poem: ‘There’s a Light in Me’. The light in us wholly unharmed even in extremes of suffering, a place for the Muses to meet us. ‘Terma’ – a Tibetan teaching hidden in physical objects or even concealed in your mind or memory- written in indecipherable Dakini script, to be found by you. Concealed in physical objects or even in your mind/memory, written texts or even email! little reminders that we are already awake. When we hold light and silence everyone can feel it it changes the field. As recorded June 16th 2020.
Audio PZI Zen Online -Taking the role of the host everywhere & Abiding Nowhere guide Allison’s talk. Solitude as resting in vastness. Loneliness – you may even be in company, but something is missing. revisiting childhood’ solitude and the solitude of mountain trails. Abiding ‘somewhere’ keeps me out of vastness.
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.
Yunmen said, “Before or after the full moon, every day is a good day!” The light of sesshin infuses us. In a “good day” the light is in you, just how it is—this is not an achievement, you are in the gift of the universe. The tenderness of the good day. Our whole lives opening to now. You can’t bully the Dao, it’s bigger than you! Not getting in the way of life. Also: Dreams, Linji’s death, and more. Video recorded in Winter Sesshin 2020.
Revisiting the big koans on his personal path: What is being a teacher? What is succession? Jon talks about Linji’s path to enlightenment – his teachers Huangbo and Daiyu conspire to help him. Jon reflects on his recent visit to Japan and the Chan zendo in Kamakura, his warmth and gratitude for Yamada and his teachings. Our ancestors in the Chan lineage.
Revisiting the big koans – What is this? Who is hearing? Who am I ? and others on his personal path: What is being a teacher? What is succession? Jon talks about Linji’s path to enlightenment – His teachers Huangbo and Daiyu conspire to help him. Our ancestors in the Chan lineage. Jon reflects on his recent visit to Japan and the Chan zendo in Kamakura, his warmth and gratitude for Yamada and his teachings.
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.
In practice you are traveling, you are on a path. It is different from a plan because you are on uncertain turf. Practice also has more love in it because you are moving in the dark in a positive way. The koan is like the dog that follows you around with a bowl – it foils your serious plans.
A discovery that all the Linji koans we are working with during the retreat are variants on Linji’s “There’s nothing I dislike.” They all appear from this core. The solitary brightness with no fixed shape or form is yours. If you “only don’t object” or exclude reality, the brightness is there. As recorded in Summer Sesshin 2016.
I like having a roomful of things and a roomful of people. So my plan for this talk is to say a little bit of some of the things I’ve
been thinking about as I sit with this koan, and talk a little bit about retreat, and then to have some time for conversation and questions and observations.
John opens the evening with the koan “The True Person of No Rank.” It goes something like this: “There is a true person of no rank who is always coming and going from the portals of your face.” Who is that person of no rank? Linji was a great teacher and the ancestor of most of the koan lines of Zen and this is a koan of his. It has been used since ancient times as a meditation both for beginners and advanced students. Probably the best way to work with it is to play with it. Don’t rank how you are doing. Just let it keep you company, like an animal would. You forget about it, but every time you look, there it is! And after a while it doesn’t go away. October 17, 2013.