His students gathered in the hall to hear the great Fayan of Qingliang give a talk before the midday meal.
He pointed to the bamboo blinds, and two students went and rolled them up in the same way.
Fayan said, “One wins, one loses.”

—Gateless Gate Collection

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 Summer of Zen! Meeting the Inconceivable
with John Tarrant & PZI Teachers

June 10–16, 2024
Santa Sabina Retreat Center in Northern California

Join us for our yearly summer sesshin, a time to sit together in silence in the companionship of wonder. Summer Sesshin is our major gathering for the year. There will be refuge ceremonies and sutras and teachings and also deep and marvelous silence. Learn more

What’s Current

Meditation on Sundays with John Tarrant & Friends
April 28th, 10:30 am Pacific Time
Unexpected Help Along the Way
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
in the Online Temple on Sundays.
We love it when you join us.

—John Tarrant

Featured: 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.

And sangha, in the largest sense, is everything in your experience right now: your memories, your worries, physical sensations, the weather, the curtains, the carpet—all of those are your companions, and you can take refuge in them. 

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

Recent Zen Luminaries Audio:
The Asking with Poet Jane Hirshfield

A visit with poet Jane Hirshfield in the Pacific Zen Luminaries Series with series host Jon Joseph. Includes commentary from John Tarrant, Allison Atwill, and others.

Once in a dream someone asked me, “Why do you write?” I responded, “Because everything is alive.”

A poem is a field of discovery. It is not the record of something I already know. It is the record of exploration for alchemical transformation or for a pot a rice. The cooking pot is us.

Zen Luminaries Series
Saving the Earth, Helping the People: Governor Jerry Brown on April 29

A Zen Luminaries Series Evening
Co-hosted by Jon Joseph, John Tarrant
& David Weinstein 6 PM PDT

Calendar of Events

Pacific Time

Upcoming Events

Open Temple
Morning Meditations
Final Week

Practice leaders bring koans and poems in two morning sessions every weekday

Explore Our Zen Luminaries Audio Archive

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.


MEMBERS FREE: Early Spring Open Temple Pass – Weekday Morning Meditations

PZI Online Open Temple
The Universe


Fill a Sieve with Water – Tuesday Zen with David Weinstein

PZI Zen Online: 6 PM PDT
The Universe


Unexpected Help Along the Way – Meditation on Sundays with John Tarrant & Friends

PZI Online: 10:30 AM PDT
The Universe


Saving the Earth, Helping the People: Jerry Brown in Conversation with Jon Joseph & Friends

PZI Zen Online at 6 PM PDT
The Universe


The Summer of Zen – Meeting the Inconceivable: Great Summer Sesshin with John Tarrant & Friends

JUNE 10th–16th
Santa Sabina Center
San Rafael, CA