PZI Teacher Archives
If you’ve got demons, you’re alive! But you don’t have to get on board with them. Demons come out of your own heart, just like enlightenment.
I’ve been thinking that everybody needs to start by being lost. And that the Dharma is a spiral path. It will happen again, and then again, and then again. So, when you are lost, instead of thinking, “This is an abnormal, wrong situation,” that’s what koans give us—they say, “Oh, well, I’m lost, fortunately. I don’t know what I’m doing.”
Dharma talk given by John Tarrant on the last eve of Winter Sesshin 2023.
Second evening Dharma talk of Winter Sesshin. Getting ahold of something is not the point in Yunmen’s koan of darkness – start by being lost! The dharma is a spiral path of lostness. What will happen next? it’s dark. We’re here no matter what. When you think okay, I’m lost, what’s next? Next is a predicament koan from Shang Yen and you are hanging by your teeth from a branch. A story of a teacher being carried in the dark. Shang Yen student of Baizhang and Guishan who gives us this koan worked with the koan Original Face for years and was stuck in the dark until the ‘one tock’ of a rock on bamboo awakened him. Trusting in the dark is the way – it is not our business how we awaken. No being has ever fallen out of their great true nature. No moment outside of wonder. The heart opens. February 2, 2023
What is the journey for? What is it to have this life? We’re in it—it’s so marvelous, so overwhelming and so incomprehensible. You’ll find, I think, that you can’t stand back from it and answer that question. So the “good day” is just how it is. It’s like the gift of the universe, and you’re in the universe, having received the gift. Transcript of John Tarrant’s dharma talk in Winter Sesshin 2020.
We stop relying on the worry—on knowing who we are, on sorrow, on anxiety, on “if only I could get something.” Or get through this time. We stop relying on those things, and start relying on being here. A koan is something to put in your mind so that you have that there. So instead of Fox News or “Oh my god, I’m afraid,” or “I’m sick of being confined”—gradually freedom starts to appear by itself.
PZI Zen Online Audio: Our disorderly karmic consciousness: John Tarrant Roshi on “the mind at midnight,” and our experience when we have no foundation to rely on. Koans stop our insistent minds—with an image or a predicament, they allow for a pause, a gate. As recorded April 26 2020.