PZI Teacher Archives
The first phase of practice is being lost—allowing that. You are out of the known territory. It is key to know we don’t control the process. When you are ‘in it,’ don’t try to go beyond it. Enjoy and embrace the lostness. Transformation happens in the vessel. This is why we have a retreat.
Usually, casually, I think of myself as being well. When I am sick, wellness is the me I imagine I’ll get back to. I can’t always be sure what is healing and what is the opposite.
Our era is undoubtedly difficult, and even crazy. We are in an underworld time. We know that we’re cutting down ancient trees, burning fossil fuels, melting the sustaining ice, finding leaders who pretend that we have no part in the changes that overwhelm us. We are suffering from forces greater than us and also from ourselves; we too are forces beyond our control.
How many lifetimes do we spend in our fox suits? They are not wasted. All forms are part of the lively package of existence. Turning words and sudden awakenings even from long-suffering can appear anywhere and in the most unexpected ways.
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.
Every time you sit, you are Buddha under the bodhi tree, having some portion of his enlightenment night. From a talk in Summer Sesshin, June 16, 2022. 5 minutes.
In even the simplest life, pain and disappointment accumulate—and at some moment everyone longs to walk through a gate and leave the past behind, perhaps for an earlier time when the colors were bright and the heart carried no weight. The quest for a fresh start is so fundamental that it defines the shape of the stories we tell each other. Article by John Tarrant published in Lion’s Roar magazine on July 1, 2007.
Winter Sesshin: Through Winter Silence into the New Light. Audio excerpt. Tess Beasley on the subject of transformation, as recorded on January 15th, 2021. 7 minutes.
PZI Zen Online 1-Day Retreat: On the Banks of the Ghost River. Morning session with John Tarrant Roshi & Tess Beasley Sensei. John Reads the Ballad of Tam Lin in which a brave girl helps her lover, caught in the Faery Queens’s caterhaugh (boggy fen), transform. Dharma talk and comments from participants. Complete session. As recorded Oct 31 2020.
PZI Zen Online: Audio excerpt from morning session of PZI One-day Retreat, On the Banks of the Ghost River with John Tarrant & Tess Beasley. John Reads the Ballad of Tam Lin in which a brave girl helps her lover, caught in the Faery Queens’s caterhaugh (boggy fen), transform. As recorded Oct 31 2020. Complete 2-part session also available.
Fiery Guanyin in the butterfly tent with open wings. Allison reminds us of all the elemental manifestations of Guanyin as Space, Earth, Water, Air, and, finally, Fire. Guanyin manifests solutions from unseen space in any situation that is deemed unfixable. Complete session recorded from August 30, 2020, with Michael Wilding on flute.
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.
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.
Deshan’s story of Mirror Bright Mountain, a Diamond Sutra scholar and his journey to awakening. His meeting with the Zen teachers Tea Shack Lady and Dragon Pool. How his journey transforms everything, including his destination. Suffering from expertness and holding onto views. Music Jordan McConnell, Michelle Riddle, Sarah Bender, Amy Fletcher. PZI Zen Online. Audio as recorded May 17, 2020.
David tells the story of Zhuangzi and his dream of transformation: gaining the capacity to dream yourself into anything—butterfly, dung beetle, peacock, cockroach—finding yourself in the dream in whatever form. We can’t know we are in a dream or not until we wake—we are constantly changing and transforming.
Allison talks about the transformation of things from a story in the Zhuangzi, where Zhuangzi dreamed he was a butterfly. Our plans to become a butterfly are a kind of pressing into ourselves and the world. The flaw is in thinking we have to learn how to transform. Morning dharma talk in Summer Sesshin at Mount Madonna Center, recorded in July 2019.