PZI Teacher Archives
There is an inner restlessness in the question, “What is Buddha?” If we look beyond what we think we know of as Buddha, the answer can be anything. A Zen master answered this question with, “dried shit stick!” Nothing is excluded; the jewel can be anywhere. Complete Sunday Zen session, with poems from Li Bai and John Tarrant. April 28, 2023.
There is a restlessness in the question, “What is Buddha?” If we look beyond what we think we know of as Buddha, the answer can be anything. A Zen master answered this question with, “dried shit stick!” Nothing is excluded; the jewel can be anywhere. Complete Sunday Zen session, with poems from Li Bai and John Tarrant. April 28, 2023.
The salt and sauce is the invisible component of practice, of life. It is the place in which we are held when disaster strikes, or there’s chronic illness, or you find yourself at the Mad Hatter’s tea party. You might not need what you think you do to get by. What is salt and sauce for you? We can be at peace in the midst of the madness of events – this is our main work in zen. Music for meditation from Micheal Wilding on flute and then on drum. Complete Sunday Zen session from March 12, 2023.
The salt and sauce is the invisible component of practice, of life, the place where we are held when disaster strikes or you find yourself at the Mad Hatter’s tea party. You might not need what you think you do to get by. We can be at peace in the midst of the madness of events—this is our main work in Zen. Complete Sunday Zen session from March 12, 2023.
Eventually you come to a place where you can’t go on and you can’t go back. You have arrived at the base of cliffs; you can’t scale them, you can’t get around them, and there’s no handy tunnel through them. It’s a daunting place—that’s the point of it. And when you arrive here your life and your journey can become your own.
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.
John Tarrant and HOP Michelle Riddle close the sesshin, together with the sangha, letting it go into the gone beyond. Timekeeper Todd Geist gives closing thanks. Musician Amanda Boughton sings a celtic ballad and plays mandolin, Cantor Amaryllis Fletcher chants and plays violin for the closing sutras and four boundless vows. Final day of Summer Sesshin, at Santa Sabina, June 19th, 2022.
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.
Brilliant Zen student Dahui’s teacher, Yuanwu, sees his student can’t quite let go of his hold of the precipice and gives him this koan. There is something underneath everything: it is vastness. The old character was ‘sky.’ Haiku was hailed as a perfect snapshot with eternity in it. Haiku from John Tarrant, Masaoka Shiki, and others. Complete session recorded February 13, 2022.
As recorded on October 22, at PZI Fall Sesshin 2021. Bird tracks and a crane story from long ago in China. Four vows are sung and played by Amaryllis Fletcher & Jordan McConnell. Allison Atwill gives a closing poem.
Even a time of torpor, or a time when plans come apart, or we thought the culture was going in one way and it’s going in another—we rely on the spaciousness, we rely on not what we’ve planned and schemed, but we rely on what’s been opened up in our hearts. Transcript from the PZI Zen Online recording from Sunday, June 21, 2020.
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.
I was thinking about history and beauty and what an old old thing human suffering is, and how intrinsic it is. And we keep making things better and then they keep getting worse, and we’re making them better and they get worse. I guess I just wanted to say that it’s really good to have a practice at any time. Meditate—it will help. You will come from a position of peace rather than just fighting yourself. Being yourself, the true person, no rank. Transcript of PZI Zen Online Sunday Dharma Talk with John Tarrant Roshi, recorded June 7, 2020.
It’s a very strong thing to be human, you can be subjected to all sorts of great forces. And sometimes you can win through, and sometimes you die. But we’re all of us doing that, all the time. So I was thinking about how good it is to love each other, to meet each other, and to make peace in our hearts. Sunday talk with John Tarrant, recorded June 14 2020.
Hanging Lanterns Series: Zhaozhou meets a practitioner. One treasure, deep in the cosmos, and in you. Seeing, feeling, being inhabited by the light in all things, the eternity in things. The treasure in the simplest things. These are our times; love the treasure in them. Michelle Riddle – vows, Michael Wilding – sax, Amaryllis – violin. PZI Zen Online, as recorded Oct. 11, 2020.
Allison Atwill asks, What is “my” first principle? A question that does not need an answer but furthers our chasing about! The emperor in us asks this again and again. But, like Huangbo, we have come “not for anything else!”—just this perfect life. As recorded October 3, 2020.
Solstice and the big wheels turn. Juneteenth celebrations & demonstrations are encouraging. Navigating and feeling the covid bardos of long confinement. Has nothing happened? Maybe all sorts of things are happening? “We can’t stay here long.” What is a border? Old injustices are looming. Readings from Slave Narratives, poetry of Li Bai, Alberto Rios, Czeslaw Milosz. Sunday Zen session recorded June 21, 2020.
We are in the midst of great civil unrest around racism and the institutions that support it. Li Bai, Du Fu, Dalong & 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.
PZI Zen Online: Zen has no insiders, no outsiders. The true person has no rank, no color, no designations. John reads from Garrett Cadogan’s essay, “Walking While Black.” Koans and vows as expressions of reality. The bodhisattva path. The space and light of the universe is already in everything and everyone, beyond categories. As recorded June 7th, 2020.