Sacha Kawaichi likes laughing more than sutras (but isn’t exactly sure yet what sutras are). She likes crossing bridges more than she likes following rules. She has a big smile and loves to make jewelry and art. She lives in the San Francisco Bay area. Here is what she has to say about her surprising time with PZI:
PZI welcomes everyone. You don’t have to try and fit in because whatever you are is welcome. John’s work is about transformation. It is a home of depth and honesty, but it is innovative and real. We talk about our own lives. Where we actually live. This becomes the avenue of awakening.
If you think this place is not for you, it is.
If you really think it is not for you, it really is.
I don’t work formally on koans but they now accompany me everywhere. That’s the beauty of koanville. Koans become exactly what you as an individual need. They enter around or beneath or through whatever barrier keeps you from freedom.
I can say my life has been completely transformed in a startling way.
When I went to John Tarrant’s Open Mind Retreat it was the first time I participated in a group in 45 years. I have a rare and poorly understood speech impediment. I was extremely self-conscious about my faltering, quavering, spastic speech. I’d basically given up participating in the world. I tried everything to get out of the self-conscious jail. Therapy, meditation, Botox in my throat, speech therapy, bodywork, and other meditative practices.
But then I read John’s book. And the depth of his connection to the life of intimacy and tenderness called to me. This old dog heard the whistle. It was the exact note I never knew I was longing to hear. And, with my intense anxiety right along beside me, I had to go to retreat.
I have now been a member of PZI for over two years. It is a home of astonishing generosity and kindness. Each retreat is an experience of depth and expansiveness. I am Jewish, practice Zen, and volunteer with the homeless at a Catholic Agency. I have become a writer and painter and put my work out into the world. I have become a professional photographer who helps to document the lives of the poor. I speak up in groups now too. I participate in life and the world.
Inner and outer arise together.
I am accompanied by my fellow members and the teachers at PZI. The individual work with extraordinary teachers is a gift beyond imagining.
This is truly a one-of-a-kind community and practice. It is a joy to be a member.
And we really laugh a lot, too.
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Sacha has a poem and a painting in our online magazine, Uncertainty Club.