Unkindness comes out of certainty; when we throw out certainty, we have the bare reality of consciousness, and another name for that is love.  —John Tarrant

hand prints from an ancient site on cave wall in Cuevo de Los Manos, Patagonis

The PZI Difference: Our Koan Practice Tradition

How to Practice Zen Koans, A User’s Guide: John Tarrant in Lion’s Roar Magazine

Before anything is explained, there is the sky, the earth, redwood forests, pelicans, rivers, rats, the city of San Francisco. And you are part of all that. We’re all part of that. In the land of koans, you see that everything that happens in your life is for you. There is no one else it can be for. Your life counts 

A koan is a little healing story, a conversation, an image, a fragment of a song. It’s something to keep you company, whatever you are doing. There’s a tradition of koan study to transform your heart and the way you move in the world. The path is about learning to love this life, the one you have. Then it’s easy to love others, which is the other thing a practice is about. Koans don’t really explain things. Instead, they show you something by opening a gate. You walk through, and you take the ride.

—John Tarrant, Lion’s Roar Magazine

The Heart of Our Zen Practice

We Have It Already

You’ll notice that there’s this tremendous desire to improve our state of consciousness.

It seems to go with the human brand. But true meditation is a moment when we do less. Mainly it’s not just that we don’t run around chasing things, but we don’t interfere; we don’t oppose what’s appearing in the mind. When we don’t oppose what’s appearing in the mind, we realize it’s just waves and flowers and there’s an intrinsic openness and spaciousness within what’s already here, and so we don’t have to go somewhere else to find what we’re looking for.

We have it already!

Hosting the Life You Have with John Tarrant

Koans & Conversation

We wake up together! Conversation is itself a kind of meditation, a way we can accompany each other through life. We can share errors, painful mistakes, dreams, losses, discoveries, or just the ordinary glowing things. That’s a good day. Read on…

Enlightenment Is Something We Do Together

by John Tarrant in Lion’s Roar Magazine ,
February 18, 2014

More on practice:

Waking Up in Difficult Times with John Tarrant: Winter Sesshin 2017

Summer in the Palace at the Blue Cliff with John Tarrant & PZI Teachers: Summer Sesshin 2021

Gathering in the Valley of Our Time with John Tarrant & PZI Teachers: Fall Sesshin 2020

What We Get Up To


Imagination & Zen

We hold the door to the imagination open wide with glee. Koans with their ancient potent imagery and references lead the way into the wild imaginal universe.

Some PZI Artists, Writers & Musicians

Allison Atwill

Mario Da Cunha

Denise Fujiwara

Chris Gaffney

Corey Hitchcock

Lonnie Rankin

Michael Hofmann

Sacha Kawaichi

Piper Leigh

Jordan McConnell

Dennis Peak

Michael Wilding

PZI’s Corey Hitchcock, “The Wicked Engine of Connected Desire,” 2010. Installation assemblage: cardboard, wire, paper, bicycle wheel.
PZI Sumi-e Artist & Teacher, Michael Hofmann


Dancer Denise Fuiiwara in her original performance: Komachi good

Choreographer & Dancer Denise Fujiwara: A Member Story

Denise Fujiwara hails from Toronto, Ontario in Canada and is a life-long dancer, choreographer, performer and teacher. Denise practices and teaches Butoh, a contemporary Japanese dance theatre practice.  She shares contemplative aspects of her art form that assist participants to experience deeply embodied movement, through the cultivation of curiosity, the imagination, awareness and presence.  Her mentors include Japanese butoh master Natsu Nakajima and Zen Roshi, John Tarrant.  She performs and leads workshops across Canada and abroad.

Denise has enhanced Winter Sesshins at PZI for many years with her butoh movement sessions. It includes shadow elements. Nothing is excluded. No movement possibility is ignored. She begins by having us move parts of our bodies in unusual ways, then she steps it up. It is wild. Observers have compared this group exercise to visiting the holo-deck of Starship Enterprise.

Here is a link to Denise’s latest NACC film collaboration: Noppera Bo by Denise Fujiwara / Fujiwara Dance Inventions, William Yong / W Zento Production.

Thank you, Denise!


Sutras of Inclusion: Ants, Sticks & Grizzly Bears

Cantor Amaryllis Fletcher & the PZI Sutra Book

PZI Cantor Amaryllis Fletcher

Amaryllis Fletcher, musician and teacher, joined PZI in 2000. She had been a student of Robert Aiken Roshi in Honolulu. When she relocated to Colorado, Roshi Aiken referred her to his dharma heir, John Tarrant. Amaryllis first attended PZI events in 2006 when the group was still known as the California Diamond Sangha. Amaryllis has collaborated with many musicians on Sutras and sutra services. The PZI Sutra Book has evolved, just as traditional robes disappeared and traditional meditation structures have eased.

Amaryllis is an accomplished classical violinist and has played her remarkable solos during during sesshins meditations for many years.

PZI Musicians

PZI Musician Jordan McConnell

Cantor Amaryllis Fletcher

Jordan McConnell

Michael Wilding

Ryan McCoy