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.
Our Spring Sesshin was last week. This Meditation & Talk today is a small retreat. The retreat experience always occurs in the place before the achieving, project-related mind thought we needed things. Wise Chan ancestor Linji said,
I am just someone with nothing to do.
That is the nature of depending on the Valley Spirit, the Chinese personification of emptiness, the vastness that holds us all. We feel the universe looking out from our own eyes, and we are messengers of eternity in that way. We tend to forget this original vastness as we leave infancy, but to truly feel our own lives we need to depend on what is larger than us.
Human cultures have a crazy streak, in case you haven’t noticed! So the idea of a “normal” we’d get back to after this pandemic – forget about it. All the great meditation traditions evolved from and for times like these. Nothing is guaranteed. We must create our own solutions in these times. Master Ma said,
When you don’t know where to go, make a raft of your practice.
Enter deeper into your practice, hold what’s beautiful. Peach blossoms can turn up anywhere, and the Valley Spirit appears. We experience them as a kind of confidence in the Way, in ourselves. In retreat we go on pilgrimage with this. Even the reaching for it has it!
It’s a predicament to be human We are born into a predicament. The old masters taught us to rely on uncertainty and sincere conversations among friends.
[Ancestors and Poetry]
—Lao Tzu’s trust in the Dao
—Li Bai’s Meditation on Chingting Mountain
—Du Fu in Chang-An
—Jane Kenyon’s There is No Accounting for Happiness
—Basho’s The Sorrow of Spring
Comments after the Talk: Allison Atwill on direct encounters with aliveness while fishing.