A solitary boat without oars is making its way in the moonlight.
When I turn my head, I see waterweed motionless on the riverbank.

—Zen Ancestor Keizan

Zen Online

The Fall Dragon News is here –

in your email boxes today.
The Veils Are Thin. We are falling and floating, avoiding rakshasas, meeting dolphins, greeting ancestors, & making an autumn temple. Haiku, music, videos and more.

Loving the World That Carries Us All, Part 2 – with John Tarrant & Friends
December 4, 10:30 am Pacific Time


The world carries us from the moment we are born.

The sparrow launches
from a pear branch, and a yellow
leaf sets off too
on its own, different journey.

John Tarrant

When I feel our time, it seems to be an aurochs, huge and stubborn and horned, and my face is up against its rough, hairy hide, and its roaring is in my ears.

There is plenty of hatred and violence in our times, and still, these are the conditions we have been given. Loving our lives seems easily the best attitude to the dilemma of living.

In this way we make of ourselves a raft or ferryboat for others.

There is a spiritual quality to autumn that is interleaved with the gold and blue, the loneliness, the loss of summer, and the piling up of years. And in this condition, which we all have, autumn is golden; the journey we are on can be golden too.

Appreciating each other is something I like best when it just happens. It is not a virtue but an impartial force. Even if I don’t like someone, secretly underneath I might notice that I’m amused—secretly I wish them the power to live.

And then an ear worm appears: I’m going around singing Violeta Para’s Gracias a la Vida, and as I begin to wonder about this, I notice Louis Armstrong’s voice saying, “How do you do, they’re really saying, ‘I love you!’”

Thanks is yellow and golden this year. Perhaps I’ll see you on Sunday. And thank you.

Meditation is not a task with a known goal. It’s something you can’t do wrong, a chance for the things of this world to come towards you and to meet you, for doors to open by themselves, and for us to see where the ancient paths lead.

Waking up is something we do together, in the online temple on Sunday. We love it when you join us. 

—John Tarrant & All of Us at PZI

Fall Poems from John Tarrant

Sleeping House

Soft footfall, the house wakes in the dark
and tries to remember its dream.
The fox stands, gazing impartially at the French doors.
The house wonders if it should get up, read,
drink some tea.
The moon won’t rise till nearly dawn.
An owl calls, opening a door not in the house.


Poverty seizes me in the middle of things
and my life will never be the same:
I will face outwards to the trees
and animals
and not look back.
Silent furred creatures
and the tall eucalyptus
gather slowly about me;
they have given me this new life,
walking alone in the moonlight,
not knowing who I am.

Hearing the Sounds of the World with John Tarrant

Hearing the sounds is what the name of the deity of compassion means: Guanshiyin. It’s literal. She hears the sounds of the world. We hear the sounds without resistance. And that hearing is itself compassion. AUDIO Recorded November 6, 2022. 

Year’s End Open Temple FREE for Members

Weekday koan meditations
November 7–December 30, 2022

Practice leaders bring koans and poems every day. Join us for early morning meditation. Your cushion awaits!

NEW DATE! with John Tarrant & Tess Beasley

Buddha’s Life in Your Life
Sunday Retreat, December 11
9:30 AM–4:00 PM Pacific Time

Enter the story of Buddha’s life as your own—a mythic adventure for year’s end. See out the year from within this wondrous story of transformation. Join this special holiday retreat with PZI Founder John Tarrant Roshi and Board Chair Tess Beasley Sensei.


Upcoming Events

David Hinton in conversation with Jon Joseph

Wild Mind, Wild Earth
December 12, 6–7:30 PM PST

David Hinton returns to PZI to talk about his new book,Wild Mind, Wild Earth: Our Place in the Sixth Extinction, and how Chan/Zen and contemporary environmental thought flow together at this critical juncture in human history.

Upcoming Luminaries

December 12th
Translator David Hinton

January 23rd
Rubin Habito Roshi

February 20th
Author Lewis Hyde

Explore the Archive of Luminaries Talks

VIDEO Clips on the PZI YouTube Channel

Coins in the River


Sudden Awakening

An article by John Tarrant, published in Lion’s Roar magazine, July 1, 2007

When you set out on the Buddha’s journey, you have no real assurance that any awakening is possible. People might urge you on, but they could be deluded, or they could be right about themselves but not about you. “Maybe I’m just not good at this,” you might think.

You could watch Buddhist teachers closely to see if they seem to be enlightened, but the more closely you look at anyone the more mysterious they become. Close observation doesn’t necessarily prove much.

The Zen solution is to expose you to endless koans. It’s a “try it and see” approach.

—from Sudden Awakening, by John Tarrant

Sesshin Audio

My Heart Is Not at Rest

Jesse Cardin tells the story of Zen’s favorite odd couple Yantou and Xuefeng holed up snowbound on Tortoise Mountain.

Xuefeng’s heart is not at rest—he cannot sleep or stop thinking about his heart not being at rest.

Yantou is irritated and tells him:

Let the teaching flow from your own breast! Don’t you know the treasure does not come in through the front gate?

Jesse tells the story of his own heart not being at rest during an ill-timed grocery run that almost made him late for his own talk.

—Jesse Cardin, Talk given in Winter Sesshin, February 5, 2022 

Sunday Audio

Whatever Appears Is Part of Your Awakening

The universe is always leaning in towards us in hopes we will notice.

The direct encounter with whatever appears is not a gradual entering, but a moment in which we are suddenly all the way in. And there is a satisfaction in that moment. Nothing else is needed. There is no sense of longing. There is a sufficiency in the moment.

These moments can arrive at any time, anywhere. They can come in an argument as easily as a beautiful sunset. There is a common ground within them, as a feeling of silence, presence, and the eternal.

—Allison Atwill, Sunday Talk given on March 20, 2020

Door After Door


New to Pacific Zen Institute? – Welcome!

WELCOME! At PZI we’re creating a culture of transformation through meditation, koans, conversation, and the arts. Explore and connect in PZI Zen Online events, our extensive Koans and Liberation Project Archive (KALPA), and more.


NEW DATE: Buddha’s Life in Your Life – A Daylong Retreat with John Tarrant & Tess Beasley

PZI Digital Temple 9:30-4 PST
The Universe


Loving the World That Carries Us All, Part 2 – Sunday Zen with John Tarrant & Friends

PZI Online Temple: 10:30AM PST
The Universe


A Visit from Isis – Monday Zen with Jon Joseph

PZI Zen Online: 6PM PST
The Universe


Year’s End Open Temple: 2-Month Meditation Pass – MEMBERS FREE

NOV 7th–DEC 30th
PZI Open Temple Online
The Universe


Wild Mind, Wild Earth – Jon Joseph Hosts Zen Luminary David Hinton

PZI Zen Online: 6PM PST
The Universe