Making a Culture

Alice laughed. “There’s no use trying,” she said, “one can’t believe impossible things.”

“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast. “

     —Alice in Wonderland


Our PZI mission is to create a culture for transforming the mind through meditation, koans, conversation and the arts. And it’s not so hard to have an experience of enlightenment.  At PZI we change people’s lives, for real, and that’s what we mean by transforming the mind. People find that the way we work with koans and meditation practice make a real difference in how they live in how they engage with the world.

The important part of enlightenment, the fun part, is to embody the transformation, to live in the world that is transformed.To find out what it’s like to be free, to live inside a mind that is open and free, that’s worth a lot. One feature of enlightenment is that it’s light, you can wear it because you don’t need a lot of equipment. Effort and apparatus turn out to be optional. It’s something anyone can do. 

And what does it mean to create a culture of enlightenment? It means we want to make it easy to trip over moments of clarity, big and small, and also to support each other to live in that fresher air. Enlightenment happens to you in a world where there are other beings. The Bodhisattva idea is that we live in a field with each other, and our most profound wish is that we can be happy and have joy in each other’s joy. A culture is something we all contribute to, with our kindness, our service, our encouragement.

When we are creating a culture together we get a chance to live inside the enlightened world, not as a static unchanging place but as a path that keeps opening. The core of the culture is the koan practice and the experience of awakening. There is also the idea that at bottom, we are not selfish, we do want to help each other. In PZI we refer things back to that vision of waking up. As a community we help deepen one another’s practice.

— John Tarrant, PZI Director


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