PZI Teacher Archives
Takuan Soho, creator of the renowned golden yellow daikon pickle, was a poet, artist, calligrapher, master of the tea ceremony and Zen priest of Tokai temple—a master of the creative response. The arts of Zen are responses to our meeting whatever circumstances arise—death, war, love, loneliness, natural changes.
Koans and poetry tumble over each other. Old Zen masters used snatches of poetry as koans. Good poetry has an objective quality and is related to koanville in that way. It does not try to persuade or recruit.
In the darkest days of the year, we tend toward year’s end assessments as a kind of emptying of heart and mind before the new year. John Tarrant tells a shaggy-dog transformation tale beginning with the koan, “Where do all the Buddhas come from? East Mountain walks on water.” There is a strange journey, a fox, carp, tiger, dragon’s cave, and a meeting with the Buddha. When we are free in the current matter, it is easier to love others, and our hearts flow out and touch each other.
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.
Koans and poetry tumble over each other. Good poetry has an objective quality and is related to koanville in that way. It does not try to persuade or recruit. Not knowing always supports us—you are always in the jeweled net. Music for meditation and the four vows with Jordan McConnell and Amaryllis Fletcher. Participants create poetry from a few momentary observations. Poems by John Tarrant and others.
It helps to be on the side of lostness when the world goes to hell in a handbasket (Ukraine). All we have to do is be here and be lost—no usual schemes or regrets. Let the universe teach you. Accomplishing is not the deepest thing. Being lost is a promising beginning. Getting lost is good for finding personal practices.
We think about getting to that perfect destination, but it is the journey itself that is it. A lightness in our path comes of each step we take into eternity. Music from Michael Wilding, Amaryllis Fletcher & Jordan McConnell. February 20, 2022.
A guided koan meditation with John Tarrant, recorded Sunday May, 2021. PZI Zen Online. 6 minutes.
Tess Beasley invites our voices into the room, acknowledging the interwoven yet not-interwoven vessel of sesshin. We are each a unique presence, yet it is when personal identity and ambition recede that feeling and empathy emerge. PZI Digital Temple. As recorded April 11, 2021.
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.
Handing Things On in the Dark. The dark silent time of this year has lasted for 9 months, in Covid. “The whole meaning of your life is in the current matter happening now.” No explaining it. “To be deeply in Zen is to be deeply in how to express it.” The first vaccines are here. The mysterious freedoms of this time, welcoming the new year, and a tour of the deep thick dark of midnight. John reads poems by Gerard Manly Hopkins, Anna Swir, Czeslaw Milosz, and more. Music from Jordan McConnell & Amaryllis Fletcher. PZI Zen Online, as recorded Jan 3, 2021.
PZI Dharma Theme: Four PZI Guanyins reappear for Zen Tuesdays in October. They marvel at the immensity in all things from various perspectives. Drawing inspiration from Jane Hirshfield’s poem, “Tree,” The Doors’ “Light My Fire,” a golden crowned sparrow, a remarkable brother’s life, and more. Excerpts and complete audio sessions as recorded in October 2020.
PZI Zen Online: October Zen Tuesday with Michelle Riddle Sensei. Zhaozhou’s message to a novice, “Wash your bowls.” A zendo plaque in Japan, “Look under your feet.” Focus on what is hidden in plain sight, right under you, obvious and overlooked. Like the migratory Golden Crowned Sparrows returning in fall. Ikkyu’s “Attention! Attention! Attention!” Complete session. As recorded Oct 20 2020.
PZI Zen Online: Zhaozhou’s message to a novice, “Wash your bowls.” A zendo plaque, “Look under your feet.” A focus on what’s hidden in plain sight, right under you, obvious and overlooked. That the Golden Crowned Sparrows always return in fall. Ikkyu’s “Attention!”
Hanging Lanterns at the Gate of the Autumn Temple: Orange skies, unhealthy air; apocalypse week in CA and the West. The old agreements are fragile, climate change a long gathering storm, fire a consequence. Having a practice—the simplest thing—a conversation with the vastness. Being lost is an opportunity as old attitudes fall away. Don’t take yourself too seriously! “Each step along the way is of equal substance,” says Hirada. Musicians: Amaryllis Fletcher, Cantor & Jordan McConnell, guitar. PZI Zen Online, as recorded September 13, 2020.
As old agreements fall apart, practice is a kindness. What is the image of our time? A lamp that lights another, without losing any radiance. It carries the changes, in the warmth of fire. What is meditation? Any moment of sanity! Michael Wilding on flute, Amaryllis Fletcher on violin, and Jordan McConnell on guitar for the 4 Vows. As recorded on Sunday, September 6, 2020.
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.