Taking the form of Guanyin, find shelter for the homeless person.

—PZI Miscellaneous Koan

The Pacific Zen Institute is a community that embraces koan practice, creativity, and real life. Our mission is to create a culture of transformation through meditation, koans, conversation, and the arts. Join us

Transforming the Mind & Heart – The Story of the Grail
with John Tarrant, Allison Atwill & Tess Beasley
4 Days & 3 Nights in beautiful Bolinas, CA

What’s Current

Sunday Zen with John Tarrant & Friends
The Mind Grows Quiet and the World Is Still—
Our Lives Come Near to Us Like Deer in the Twilight
February 25th, 10:30 am Pacific Time
In the PZI Online Temple

Yes, the mind grows quiet and the world too is still. Our lives come nearer to us. Because we are open to ourselves, the world comes to meet us. So do the trees and animals.

In the storm the deer shelter in the old sheep shed. The apricot blossoms struggle out and the sparrows eat them immediately, the taste of something sweet.

The grass is very green; in the midst of calm there is joy.

—John Tarrant

Waking up is something we do in the Online Temple on Sundays.

We love it when you join us.


You Don’t Have to Know:
Suffering, Dying, and Being on the Path

The thing to do at the beginning of a journey is to take a step. Any step will do.

“What’s the first principle of the holy teaching?” asks the Emperor. “Vast emptiness, nothing holy,” says Bodhidharma. “Well, who are you then?”
“I don’t know,” says Bodhidharma.

The whole of the ancient master teachings on suffering come down to this: Suffering is the notion “This isn’t it,” and its variants, such as “I can’t bear this, it shouldn’t be happening,” and “I have to know how this will turn out,” and “What if it gets worse?”

Freedom, waking up, and fearlessness come down to the simplicity of “Wait a minute, what if this is it?” and its variants “No need to bear it,” and “I don’t know.” It’s easy to forget to be curious, and to grab an off-the-shelf knowledge, something like “This is awful.”

Not reaching for off-the-shelf understandings, though, is an important skill.

—from an article by John Tarrant published in Lion’s Roar, March 7, 2013

A Fire Runs Through All Things

There is no way to “save the Earth,” which is already complete in every moment. To save the Earth, just risk at last belonging to it, being complete with it.

The indigenous term “Country” is a richly unfolding koan that unfolds us. It is a matter resolved only in its embodiment. I take it as a koan posed to our fragile time.

—Susan Murphy, from her book, A Fire Runs through All Things: Zen Koans for Facing the Climate Crisis

One True Word
1-Day with Jesse Cardin
Feb 24th, 10–4 PT

Whatever he was asked, Juzhi just held up one finger. (BCR Case 19)

Why is it so difficult sometimes to just say what’s true? Like the innocent child who points out the emperor’s nakedness, acknowledging what’s here is a boon to everyone.

Calendar of Events

Upcoming Events

Upcoming Luminaries

NEXT: March 27th
Poet Jane Hirshfield

Explore Our Archive of Luminaries Talks

Here you’ll find audio of PZI’s Jon Joseph in conversation with exceptional figures in modern Zen: teachers, authors, poets, historians, activists, and artists.

From Our Archive


Hosting the Life You Have: Koans for Hard Times

When times of great difficulty visit us, how should we greet them?

Rilke said, “Life is always right.” Whatever I think about that saying, this is the life I have and I can’t have another life. And, fundamentally, I don’t want another one because this one is so rich and compelling, no matter what’s going down right now.

Maybe, if I can be the host, I can really get to know it, and be a good generous friend to this moment of life.

—John Tarrant, Summer Sesshin 2016


A Great Current Carries Us

The world and human life are never still. You are on the Way, carried by the great current of the Dao.

Allowing koans to have you when you work with them is the same as opening to your life—there are no steps. You are already free. You can feel happy despite your stories. And there is unexpected help on difficult paths.

—John Tarrant, Sunday Zen 2022


Drifting Toward the Land of the Rakshasas

We’re in a time that is difficult, but it is our time, and difficulty is not the only thing going on.

Demons can be overwhelming or gnawing away at you. A koan can be annoying, tugging at you for attention. It pops up and points things out when you are caught! It just appears, and we find it is good to spend time with the demons—they are all of us.

—John Tarrant, Sunday Zen, Fall 2021

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.


Find Something That Is Not Treasure – Thursday Zen with David Parks

PZI Zen Online: 4 PM PST
The Universe


One True Word – Saturday Daylong Retreat with Jesse Cardin

PZI Zen Online: 10–4 PST
The Universe


The Simplicities: The Mind Grows Quiet and the World Is Still – Sunday Zen with John Tarrant & Friends

PZI Online Temple: 10:30 AM PST
The Universe


Monday Zen with Jon Joseph

PZI Zen Online: 6 PM PST
The Universe


COMING SOON: Early Spring Open Temple Pass – Weekday Morning Meditations

MARCH 4th–APRIL 26th
PZI Online Open Temple
The Universe