When I first met the Tao Te Ching, it was immensely consoling. My thoughts were noisy, I couldn’t see a path through the difficulties. But suddenly, I didn’t have to calm my mind. The words carried me into a spaciousness I could rely on without having to understand what it was or what it meant.

The Tao is called the Great Mother
Empty yet inexhaustible.
It gives birth to infinite worlds.
It is always present within you.
You can use it any way you want.

There is no text more foundational for Chan Buddhism than the Tao Te Ching. Under its influence, beauty and love were discovered to be intrinsic to awakening, and awakening itself was revealed time and again in trials of leadership, love and daily life. Zen and koans with it became a path we continue to walk with our own practice today.

The old Zen masters valued freedom but didn’t explain freedom. They depended on this emptiness beneath all things. They saw a light in leaves, the moss on tree trunks, rivers, mountains, stars, and in the eyes of birds and lost people. Sometimes when birds move it seems that they fly through us. It’s like that when we rest in the Tao.

When we don’t rely on explanations or depend even on clarity, we are at peace in the great life. This is called being in the Tao.

Join us at lovely Santa Sabina for the winter rains, and warmth and companionship on the way.

Our Winter retreat is a deep exploration of the most important matters with silence, teachings, and intimate conversations with teachers. The season is holding its breath, holding us, the light is returning but slowly. We have left behind the old year and meditation allows the New Year to find its own shape.

– John Tarrant


Register Now


Accommodations at the January retreat are sold out.  There’s plenty of room for commuters so one option might be to commute from a hotel (The Marin Lodge is fairly close) or an airbnb in San Rafael.  You can also sign up here to be put on the wait-list for accommodations.  There are often changes in the last few weeks before a retreat and you might find yourself with a bed at Santa Sabina after all.

Time and Date:
5pm, Monday, January 14 to 12pm, Sunday, January 20, 2019

Jan Black – janfblack@comcast.net

Andrew Kerlow-Myers – scholarships@pacificzen.org

For further information please see registration page.

Art: Hilma af Klint, “The Buddha’s Standpoint in Earthly Life, No. 3 (1920)

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