It can’t be described; it can’t be pictured.
It can’t be praised enough; stop groping for it. 
There’s nowhere to hide the original face.
Even when the world is destroyed, it is not destroyed.

—Gateless Gate Case 23 (transl. Joan Sutherland)

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

The Great Goddess: Seeing Through the Eyes of the Ancestors

Open Mind In-Person Retreat with Three Roshis—
John Tarrant, Allison Atwill, & Tess Beasley

The mind is a jumble of many things, and, when we throw them overboard, we forget who we are. Then the world becomes intense and beautiful without reservation. We meet the ancestors at breakfast, and everything that appears comes near. The corn tortilla burning on the stove, a puppy dog, the trouble that occurs in love, the changing of the seasons, is all for us.

Deep down we find a purity in things. This is the heart of Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy. Join us to spend some time with her this August 8th–11th, in beautiful Bolinas, CA. Retreat details

What’s Current

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Sunday Zen with John Tarrant & Friends
August 4th, 10:30 am Pacific Time
In the PZI Online Temple

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

July is the month when we take a monthlong recess—see you in August.

Featured from Our Archive: The Way Things Are Is Mysterious and Hard to See

In Daoism, one way to describe the Way is as the fundamental pattern or fundamental appearance of things.

You could say that it’s what’s appearing now in the pattern of reality, and you can feel it in your inner life and outer life. You can actually place your foot on it and rest, and it will support you. It’s where on the Way you’re placing your foot.

—Sunday Zen Talk from 2021 with Allison Atwill, Tess Beasley & Jesse Cardin 

Recent Zen Luminaries Audio:
Saving the Earth, Helping the People
—A Spiritual and Political Journey

Who Am I? is one of the iconic inquiry koans of Zen.

Who is Jerry Brown?

Jesuit novitiate. California Secretary of State, Attorney General, and four-term Governor. Zen aspirant, assistant to Mother Teresa. Mayor of Oakland. Rancher in the oak hills of California.

Throughout Jerry Brown’s half century of politics—one of the most fascinating and effective public careers in California history—there runs a deep moral and spiritual stream, an ongoing dedication to inquiry and service. VIDEO here

Zen Luminaries Series
Poet Robert Hass
Monday August 12th
6–7:30 PM PT

Join us for a conversation with Robert Hass and series host Jon Joseph & Friends on the great Japanese Haiku poets, his own poetry, and his 25-year collaboration with Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz.

Calendar of Events

Pacific Time

Upcoming Events

Koan Meditation
Weekday Mornings
Online Open Temple

Summer Open Temple
All welcome: July 1st–August 2nd

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

Upcoming Events


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.


Koan Meditation: Weekday Mornings in the Open Temple

PZI Online Open Temple
The Universe


Monday Zen with Jon Joseph: Who Calls You Home from the Rough Mountains?

PZI Zen Online: 6 PM PDT
The Universe


Tuesday Zen with David Weinstein: What Is Your Original Face?

PZI Zen Online: 6 PM PDT
The Universe


Sunday Zen with John Tarrant & Friends

PZI Online: 10:30 AM PDT
The Universe


Summer Open Mind Retreat: The Great Goddess – Seeing Through the Eyes of the Ancestors

AUGUST 8th–11th
In Person
Commonweal in Bolinas, CA