Walking in Deep Places - Moving in the Dark
A 4-Part Koan Leadership Series with John Tarrant, Roshi
Begins Saturday May 2, 2020
Guishan asked Yangshan, “Suppose that out of the blue, someone asks you, ‘All sentient beings only have disorderly consciousness, boundless and with no foundation to rely on.’ How would you conduct an inquiry into this?”
Yangshan said, 'If a student like that came, I’d call, ‘Hey so and so!’
When the student turns their head, then I’d say, ‘What is it?’
Then I’d wait while she thinks about it.
Then I’d say, ‘Not only is disorderly consciousness boundless but also there is no foundation to rely on.’'
Guishan said, 'Oh, Good!'
- Blue Cliff Record, Case 37
As koan leaders today we can walk hand in hand with the old masters; they live in us and accompany us.
We’re starting a series intended for our leadership group—in order to deepen our own understanding, help us guide others and stay connected as we explore the great matter.
The koan tradition arose as a creative response to uncertain times; a path through when there is no path. The famous Zen not knowing is not so much ignorance as a willingness to walk in the dark, before anything is explained.
We are in the time we have long thought would arrive, subject to great forces.
Despair is oozing out of the walls and the mind tries to explain it all. And then there’s hope, and things being chopped up, and compressed, and dissolved, and there is fire, and death too, and hope again. The disturbance and chaos of our time is in our hearts as well as in the outside world and actually this is the way we keep in touch with the world. In the Bodhisattva path we accompany people wherever they are, even in disorderly karmic consciousness.
When we work with koans, images and feelings arrive, offered by the inner life; we take them as gates, opening into our situation. This is a way to trust our lives, and trust that what rises to meet us belongs to us too. We can have confidence in our own moves and in the light that is always at work in us. Unlooked for gifts will certainly appear, but we will not know what they are until they arrive.
Because times are uncertain, we’re beginning the first course with a four part exploration of the types of koans.
This curriculum is itself an example of the gifts of the underworld. I’ve been thinking of this material for years, but there was always something else that needed to be done first. Now there is nothing in the way.
We’re interested in creating a vessel that can hold a deep immersion in life, transformative processes, and how to trust our own creative moves in the dark.
Sessions will be offered on Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. - 12 p.m. PDT,
May 2nd, 16th, 23rd & 30th (May 9th off).
The idea is that we’ll then take a little break and resume until we have looked at the eight types of koans. The full curriculum will contain other teachings about leadership in the context of koans, dreams, myths, ritual, and community.
This is a chance to be in on the development of our PZI leadership curriculum. We’re feeling our way.
My idea to have a mixed event—some meditation, a solid stretch of teaching, some exercises, and some breakout groups.
This is a Master Class series. This Saturday, May 2, will be devoted to: Predicament Koans.
Additional details: Registration includes all sessions. Recordings and materials will be made available for all sessions.
Cost: Suggested $200 donation.
Scholarships areas always, available for those who need them (contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details).
For registration questions, please contact email@example.com.