How many times have I gone down to the Blue Dragon’s cave for you?
— Zen koan

When your predicament can’t be avoided and the dark is all around, and you cannot see your path, and you need mercy and you don’t even know what else, a dragon will save you. For example, you are lost in the forest and night is coming on…well, it’s always that way. If you get really and truly lost though —in this case, the tree you are resting against moves slightly and, looking around, you notice an enormous eye, considering you. Only when you really know that the old paths are closed, will you find the dragon.

Predicaments are impartial but they also mean that the mysterious quality in life is on your side and a sense of humor might help. Aid comes from the place you don’t think to look.

Dragons can fly, can hide in the shape of rivers, mountains and clouds, they can fly above war, they appear suddenly like awakenings. Since dragons can take any form you could be standing next to one now.

Often we don’t know what we really want and require and truly care about. We chase outcomes when the change we need is inside. The dragon is the surprising discovery of the genuineness of our journey and of what we really love and also the unforeseen help that will appear as these things become clear.

A dragon has infinite shapes and spans galaxies, but immensity also appears very effectively in small things. The dragon lives in a lake, in the smell of a sleepy child’s hair in the morning, in the sight of a rat pausing to acknowledge you as it crosses a road, in the call of a blue heron. No one owns these little, piercing gifts—dragons are not interested in ‘yours’ or ‘mine’—they open a place where confusion disappears into vastness.

In this retreat we’ll look at stories, koans and poems about losing and finding your way, about unforeseen guidance and how dragons can save us by turning up in small, true things. We’ll consider and perhaps reconsider our own stories about what is possible.

–John Tarrant
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 About Open Mind Retreats

Pacific Zen Institute’s Open Mind retreats come out of our impulse to make a Zen meditation retreat that is native to American culture and helpful in our lives. When we take away the barriers to understanding, things just naturally shine.

This residential retreat is held in a beautiful place on the ocean. It has a simple feel, and wonderful food prepared by the Commonweal caterers.

There will be sitting together, koans, teachings, poetry, conversation.

There will be time for writing and drawing and walking by the sea and under the cypress trees with the sound of waves and seals and whales to keep us company. We will make discoveries and our lives will open. No particular background in spiritual practice is required.

This retreat usually fills up early so you might want to sign up soon.

Registrar: Sacha Kawaichi –

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