Qinglin said, There’s a poisonous snake on the path. I advise the student not to run into it.
What about when the student runs into it?
What about when she doesn’t run into it?

—from Book of Serenity Case 59, Animal Teachers

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

SAVE the DATES: PZI Fall Sesshin with John Tarrant & PZI Teachers

SAVE THE DATES: IN-PERSON FALL Sesshin from October 24–29, 2023, 
with John Tarrant & Friends, at Santa Sabina Center in Northern California

COMING SOON: FALL Open Mind Retreat from September 7–10, 2023
with John Tarrant & Tess Beasley at Commonweal in Bolinas, CA

with John Tarrant & Friends
June 11th, 2023 at 10:30 am PDT

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 Roshi
& All of Us at PZI

Dharma Theme: Animal Teachers

Animals give us the gifts of their living presence, and we feel the profound effect they have on our lives.

Animals surprise and enlarge us. We become the animal we are seeing, and that is a primary Zen move. The way we become the world that we are part of, is a profound part of Zen.

Animal koans are really about you, and the question, What is it like to have a self?

Read about fox, dog, rhinoceros and bird teachers (and more) here!

Watching the Tracks of the Flying Birds

Feeling our ties to the birds—how they symbolize freedom in the psyche, with their ability to take off at will.

John shares the legend of Yellow Crane Pavilion near Parrot Island, and a painter who disappeared on the back of his painted crane.

Also, from the Zhuangzi: The great fish Kuhn becomes a bird, swimming in the pool of heaven.

Complete Sunday Zen session recorded April 23, 2023.

Check Out PZI on YouTube

Here you’ll find clips and full-length videos from PZI Sessions, Sunday Zen, and more.

Swimming with Yasutani
with Jon Joseph

Meditation & Talk with Jon Joseph
Monday, June 5 at 6 PM PDT

Calendar of Events

Upcoming Events

PZI Members FREE
Into Summer Temple Pass

NOW through JUNE 30th—join us!

We sit together with one koan each week. Not a member? Become one.

Upcoming Luminaries

September 18th
Author Ocean Vuong

October 30th
Essayist Pico Iyer

Explore Our Archive of Luminaries Talks

Here you’ll find archived audio of conversations with Jon Joseph and the many special guests he’s hosted since 2021.

Coins in the River


Talking to a Rock

There is a wonderful and sometimes terrifying intimacy in noticing and being noticed.

Through our attention, the world reveals itself to us even as we reveal ourselves to it.

Practice can be a noticing how things become “unhidden.”

—Tess Beasley, dharma talk given in April 2020 


Meet the Blue Dragon

To have a practice is the first gift.

Like consciousness, practice doesn’t take a fixed shape. It is never properly explained, yet it changes everything. It’s the mysterious thing that gets handed along.

I think the teachings existed before there was Buddhism and that they are everlasting, like the dragon who is the universe, and who lives in all the universes.

—John Tarrant, article published in Lion’s Roar magazine, July 2019


Doors of Perception

Poet Jane Hirshfield writes, “softly, calmly, immensity taps at your life.” In Zen, we call that awakening.

Practice is a fundamentally creative act wherein we discover that we ourselves are that immensity.

We learn to listen more closely to the humming intelligence of all life.

—Allison Atwill, dharma talk given in October 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.


Swimming with Yasutani – Monday Zen with Jon Joseph

PZI Zen Online: 6PM PDT
The Universe


Poisonous Snakes of the Path – Wednesday Zen with David Weinstein

PZI Zen Online: 7PM PDT
The Universe


MEMBERS FREE – Into Summer Open Temple Meditation Pass

MAY 1st–JUNE 30th
Open Temple Online
The Universe


Thursday Zen with David Parks

PZI Zen Online: 4PM PDT
The Universe


Creatures of the Summer Dawn – Summer Sesshin with John Tarrant & PZI Teachers

JUNE 12th–18th
Santa Sabina Center
San Rafael, CA