Who are we?
Pacific Zen Institute is a community in the Rinzai Zen tradition embracing Chan and Zen koan practice, creativity, and real life.

Our mission is to create a culture of transformation through meditation, koans, conversation, and the arts.

Frog - I support transformation
Frog – ‘I support transformation’

After twenty years of teaching koans in a classical way, John Tarrant discovered ways of teaching koans that can orient anyone, including people who have no experience with meditation or Zen, towards a rich, full engagement with their own lives, and towards awakening.

In Zen, awakening comes of letting go of things. All rests on uncertainty.

John Tarrant, Gates & Obstacles, February 28, 2021

How to begin a Koan Meditation Practice:

Working with Koans: A Transcribed Talk by John Tarrant Roshi 

We encourage people to take one step into freedom, and then the next, and then the next, and everything we do in PZI is directed to that end.

A koan is a piece of old wisdom in a very concise form. I think of it as a vial of ancient light that has been passed down to us. It’s the same light that was in the heart of the teacher who invented the koan. So, if you can get the vial open, what will pour out is your inheritance. It won’t be the usual kind of inheritance with bank accounts, real estate, debts and family feuds. This inheritance will be a perspective—the way an old master saw and experienced the world.

—John Tarrant

—This page outlines the basics of PZI’s meditation tradition: Koan Practice

—This article introduces koan practice: The Power of Koan Practice by John Tarrant, Shambhala Sun magazine


More Ways to Explore PZI Zen Practice:

All of this is open to you as a newcomer – no experience necessary.

•Check our Calendar for upcoming online sessions which will feature meditation with a Zen Koan spoken into the meditation by the teacher, followed by a dharma talk and generally some shared conversation, reflections, insights afterward on how this is appears your life. No obligation to share here. Click the ‘Register here’ link in each event posting for your zoom link to attend. You may opt to donate $10 to help us keep the online temple going, or join us for FREE. 

Morning Meditation! in the Open Temple M-F is a great gift of PZI Membership and the core of our practice. Join us.

•Our KALPA library is the heart of the PZI website. Here you can delve into koan meditation practice by listening to dharma talks or reading transcriptions going back many years. John Tarrant is our founder and senior Roshi, but PZI has many wonderful Teachers within the tradition who all offer regular or occasional online sessions. These gatherings are always open to you as a newcomer and a great introduction to each teacher.

•Some KALPA library files are open, others will require you to be a member. If you find you would like to spend more time in our library and with our teachers to get to know the larger community, you can become a PZI Member at a level that is comfortable for you. Who are we? Visit our Member Stories page for some introductions.

Members are able to participate in our private google group PZI Talk which focuses on community in practice. Members may download all audio files from the KALPA library and receive significant discounts for retreats and sesshins.

•You may wish to and attend online meditation sessions, retreats and seasonal sesshins.


A Zen koan for you to take with you right now:

Dizang asked Fayan, “Where are you going?”
Fayan said, “Around on pilgrimage.”
Dizang said, “What is the purpose of pilgrimage?”
Fayan said, “I don’t know.”
Dizang said, “Not knowing is most intimate.”

—Gateless Gate, Case 62


From the KALPA Library – Our extensive archive of teacher Dharma talks from1989:
Not Knowing Is Most Intimate with John Tarrant

A dharma talk for you on koans from the Book of Serenity, given by John Tarrant at Fall Sesshin 2019, Land of Medicine Buddha.


Pages you may find interesting:

How to Join Us and what is a Membership

Koans: healing stories and poems passed down in our lineage

Meditation Practice

Member Stories

Koan Lineage

The PZI Way

Women In Zen

Uncertainty Club: our online magazine of Field Notes on Zen & the Arts


For any questions or navigating the website or about the experience of community in this time of ongoing covid, contact corey@pacificzen.org

If you would like to contact us by mail, our mailing address:

Pacific Zen Institute
P.O. Box 2972
Santa Rosa, CA 95405

Support Us

Through your generosity, you help people find their own path into awakening, keep our doors open to everyone regardless of means, support our teachers, and help our systems run smoothly.

Give Dana

The PZI Scholarship Fund

Your contributions to this fund go directly to help us offer generous scholarships for attendance at PZI Zen Online 1-day & 2-day retreats, and at our three annual 4-day sesshins in the PZI Digital Temple. There is no replacement for this generosity.

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