Distraction can have a long arc, and until the end of the story, you can’t say what’s a distraction and what’s a calling.
Musicians Jordan McConnell and Jesse Cardin join Jon Joseph to share elements of music practice and their creative relatedness to koan work.
Why did Bodhidharma come from the West, and return to the East? Why are we born, and why do we die? Emperor Wu regretted his interview, but no one could bring Bodhidharma back. We all come and go. Jon’s talk, meditations, and student comments & stories. As recorded August 2, 2021.
Meditation offers a path out of the burning house, without abandoning the promise and good-heartedness of being human. Practice is the last best hope of living up to that good-heartedness, the only thing that never hurts and usually helps. And even at the beginning of the meditation path, on a good day it’s exciting. It actually makes you happy.
How does the bodhisattva of compassion use all those hands and eyes? How do I express Guanyin? How is Guanyin showing up in my life? John Tarrant’s afternoon meditation & talk, Part 2 of this two-session Dragons of the Blue Cliff 1-Day Retreat. In the PZI Digital Temple, as recorded June 6, 2021.
Koan meditation and dharma talk with John Tarrant. How is my hand like Buddha’s hand? PZI Zen Online, Sunday program as recorded May 16, 2021.
Jon Joseph Roshi gives an overview, then the koan “What is the Way?” leading into meditation with Baling’s “A clearly enlightened person falls into a well.” Or does a well fall into that person? Audio excerpt as recorded Feb. 1 2021, PZI Zen Online. 28 minutes.
Allison Atwill uses the metaphor of a harrowing solo voyage around Cape Horn, to remind us of our capacity to turn the boat toward the real. Audio excerpt from Winter Sesshin in the PZI Digital Temple. As recorded January 16, 2021.
Audio Excerpt: PZI Winter Sesshin. Sarah Bender’s comment on a nightmarish moment during the round the world voyage of navigator John Slocum. As mentioned in Allison Atwill’s talk recorded Jan. 16th 2021.
Audio Excerpt – Winter sesshin. jon Joseph was moved to comment on Allison Atwill’s dharma talk, a metaphoric and real solo voyage into the open sea. One sailor had never sailed before and had found a scrapped boat to enter this grueling race with. Recorded Jan. 16, 2021.
PZI Winter Sesshin 2021 – Allison Atwill takes us on a solo sailing journey – a metaphor for sesshin and our lives.
Audio Excerpt: PZI Winter Sesshin. Jon Joseph reads poems and reminds us that even deep in jumbled mountains the cuckoo is calling us home. 2 minutes.
Audio Excerpt: Tess Beasley on the subject of transformation, in PZI Winter Sesshin 2021. As recorded January 15th. 7 minutes.
Zenosaurus Curriculum 3: How is my hand like Buddha’s hand? This koan asks us to let the whole of our being fall into it, to love without reservation the experience of being made of flesh.
PZI Zen Online: “Why did Bodhidharma come from the West?” Answer: “The Oak Tree in the garden.” David reflects on the nature of the garden, and how life is everywhere—even is this odd time of extremes. Recorded June 4th, 2020.
In the evening dharma talk John introduces us to an ancestor in the koan tradition, Dahui Zonggao 大慧宗杲 (Ta-hui Tsung-kao, Daie Soko), 1089-1163 and his disciple Wuzhuo Miaozong (無著妙宗; 1096–1170 CE), Miaozong lived during the Song dynasty and was one of the first nuns to be included in an imperially sanctioned Zen lineage history. The conversation between Dahui and Miaozong is instructive of his early method of using only the head of the koan and become one with it. His method was formulated for his culture like we are for ours.
“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.
John Tarrant on working with different koan types. Predicament koan—Stone Crypt. Situational—Taking the form of Guanyin. Mysterious—A well that has not been dug. John talks about his early work with koans; tactics and strategies that weren’t working until he found himself laughing at his own mind, “Going straight on the road with 99 curves.” There’s no difference between “Life” and “MY Life.” What we can do for each other is open our hearts and be there together. Recorded January 2014.
David’s dharma talk during Bare Bones retreat about falling down a well. “How does the fully enlightened person fall into a well?” The koan brought to mind an old Maquire sisters song that goes, “Wella, Wella, Wella waiting for the Bella to go ding dong, ding dong…” We all fall into our own personal wells of suffering. David lends a hand to pull us out by sharing his own well stories.
Those who have used koans have described them as a poetic technology for bringing about awakening, a painful but effective gate into the consciousness of the Buddha, an easy method of integrating awakening into everyday life, the most frustrating thing they have ever done, an appalling waste of time, a tyranny perpetrated by Zen masters… Well, you get the idea — about koans, opinions differ. Article by John Tarrant published in Shambhala Sun magazine, May 1 2003.
Roshi John Tarrant gives the third of three koans for Bare Bones retreat. The head of the koan is: “What is the sharpest sword or the sword which will cut even the finest piece of hair in two?” The response to the question is, “Each branch of coral holds up the moon.” February 22, 2013.
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.
Allison Atwill Sensei describes the making of her amazing art piece inspired by the koan, “Each Branch of Coral Holds Up the Moon.” January 24, 2013.