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.
PZI Zen Online 1-Day Retreat: On the Banks of the Ghost River, afternoon session. Reflections on the koan and the story of Tam Lin and brave Janet. Comments. Tess Beasley & John Tarrant reflect. Sesshin closing. As recorded Oct 31 2020.
Practice. The notion of practice, as something you embody, and you walk through, and you are—rather than something you add, like something added to gasoline. There’s also a sense of moving in the dark, in some way that’s positive. So that in a practice, “not knowing” is on your side.
So, there’s a spaciousness inside all situations, is what I’m saying. We’re walking through them, and underneath our feet there’s space and light around us—and we’re walking through space and light. And knowing that then is the source, I think, of empathy and love—but we accompany each other. And we don’t have to take ourselves or each other so seriously. We don’t have to advocate for the direness of the human condition, which is something we find a lot of. [laughs]
I think this is a time when things are kind of changing and incredibly uncertain, and that fidelity to what’s really true to us is important and valuable. And we don’t have to pretend that when difficulties are here, they’re not here. But also, we don’t have to pretend that they cancel the illumination, because nothing does, really. Even if we’re dying, the brightness of life is still there. And after we’re dead, we’ll worry about that later, [laughs] when the time comes in the bardos.
PZI Dharma Theme: “Your Light.” In Zen, one lamp lights another but is never extinguished. We want these themed selections to work that way, as you explore the KALPA. A Dharma Theme? It’s a gathering, a curation of events from our vast KALPA library, based in a theme that is current in our online sessions and practice. We’re offering a compilation of various types of files: transcript, audio, art, music, and video—all from PZI teachers.
There was a teacher called Luopu, a Chinese teacher, and he said this interesting thing. He said, “You have to directly realize the source outside of the teachings.” That’s the whole thing about it. That’s Bodhidharma’s thing, the direct realization outside of scriptures. The scriptures are nice and the teachings are nice, but really, the direct understanding—the direct meeting with life—the direct meeting with awakening is the thing.
Just at this moment, the whole universe is holding us up. It’s nice for it to have a good job like that. That’s the thing that Master Ma said, the great master Mazu, “At a certain stage you have to make yourself a raft and a ferry for others if you want to go forward from the place you cannot go forward from.” This letting yourself feel—feel the moment and how it spreads out. There is no other moment. There is this, this, this, the Blue Dragon moment. It goes out through the galaxies.
Value a sort of play and see if you can break the koan—the koan will be amused. And see it and let it into your heart, and see what comes, or follow it around, or have it follow you. And finally you’ll realize, “Oh, I’m here. I’m free.”
Whatever your condition is, you can see the “I have joy.” Out of that emptiness, out of what seems unpromising—the dark material, the valley spirit, the enigma, out of the mystery, out of what I don’t understand—it just appears. The joy just appears.
Transcript: So. The storehouse of treasures opens by itself. You can take them and use them any way you wish. And there’s a certain kind of, I don’t know, as if we get ashamed for existing, ashamed for being ourselves, ashamed for feeling what we feel, ashamed for thinking what we think, and a lot of what meditation does is it allows us to look, well is that really right, is that what I want.
PZI Zen Online Audio: Blue Dragon’s Cave Sesshin, Sunday Talk. Small things, small moments of rest, peace, & awakening, like “Thank you.” Appreciating the discarded treasures. The very things that imprison me hold the freedom, if we can host them. Being at home with them. The Storehouse ONLY opens by itself – no prying or forcing. “Returning” in meditation. Leonard Cohen sings How the Light Gets In. As recorded July 28 2020.
PZI Zen Online Audio: Blue Dragon’s Cave Sesshin, Saturday eve: John’s dream of Orion. We accord with the Dao. What part of your life does not have value? Buddha nature is expressing itself through you. Voles or vials of light, original light that we call koans which kindle light in us. Always there, even in a dark tangled place. Everything showing up is the koan! Memories in the cave—how they are whole and vivid. As recorded Summer 2020.
PZI Zen Online: Audio excerpt of David’s sesshin talk on the Storehouse of Treasures, flipside of the Blue Dragon’s Cave. It can’t be forced open, and the very things I fear most, that imprison me, are actually the treasure. How many times have I missed the door opening on its own? As recorded June 28 2020.
PZI Zen Online: Audio excerpt. John Tarrant Roshi recounts a Sesshin dream—insight on meditation practice. As recorded June 27 2020.
PZI Zen Online: Audio excerpt of Saturday morning session with Allison Atwill Roshi from Cave of the Blue Dragon sesshin. As recorded June 2020.
PZI Zen Online Audio: Into the Cave of the Blue Dragon, Summer Sesshin. Sesshin opening with John Tarrant & Michelle Riddle. John talks about meditation on sesshin. Stories: District Mistress Fan & Yuan Wu, “so near at hand.” Tabor’s poem. So easy to think I am not enough. Xing Quin “One drop, just ink – 2 drops a dragon is born.” We are each in community and discovering together. Yunmen’s Talking to a Rock. Alan Watts – Letting go, “Don’t prevent the world from falling apart.” Be a tiger at home in the mountains. Closing prayer: Cantor Amaryllis Fletcher, Jordan McConnell on guitar. The four vows. Jon Joseph Roshi’s evening words. As recorded Thursday, June 25 2020.
PZI Zen Online Audio: Blue Dragon’s Cave Sesshin—the complete Friday afternoon into evening session with John Tarrant Roshi. Music by Ryan McCoy. Cantor Amaryllis Fletcher. As recorded June 6 2020.
So…tonight I want to talk a little bit about the course of the inner work — the dharma work — in terms of this book, the Book of Serenity. And you know, it pretty much is the second case is the one we’re going to mention, about Bodhidharma meets The Emperor Wu.
John Tarrant shares his interest in investigating reality through inquiry koans, koan types, the huatou of koans, stories, and more. As recorded in Winter Sesshin, January 14, 2020.
A collection of Pacific Zen Institute’s Sutra Service & Sesshin Closing Ceremony materials. Includes all Sutras, with sheet music as available, text, lyrics, readings, and audio of original Dedications for Remembrance.