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.

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

Getting started

How to begin a Koan Meditation practice

Working with Koans by John Tarrant Roshi

The basics of PZI’s meditation tradition: Koan Practice

The Power of Koan Practice by John Tarrant

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

Here’s what’s open to you as a newcomer
—no experience necessary!

Check our Events Calendar for upcoming online sessions.

Weekly online sessions feature meditation with a Zen koan followed by a dharma talk and some shared conversation, reflections, and insights on how the koan material appears in your life. There is no obligation to share. Register for the session and you’ll get Zoom link to attend. Opt to donate $10 to help us keep our (online) temple lamps burning, or join us for FREE. 

Come join us in retreats and seasonal sesshins!

Visit the Zen Luminaries audio archive and attend the next Luminaries event.

This series was created by PZI’s Jon Joseph featuring modern Zen teachers, poets, artists, activists, thinkers, writers and more, with series host Jon Joseph. OPT to support the series with a donation or attend FREE.

Explore our KALPA Library, the heart of the PZI website.

Here you can delve into koan practice by listening to dharma talks or reading transcripts going back many years. John Tarrant is our founder and senior Roshi and PZI has many wonderful other teachers within the tradition who offer online sessions. These gatherings are open to you as a newcomer and are a great introduction our teachers.

Some KALPA Library files are open, others require Membership for access

If you find you’d like to spend more time in our library or would like to work with a teacher, become a PZI Member at any time at a level that is comfortable for you. Who are we? Visit our Member Stories page for some introductions. Members may download audio from the library, get access to our Google group PZI Talk which focuses on community and practice, and receive discounts for retreats and sesshins.

Check out PZI on YouTube!

Morning Meditation in our Online Open Temple is a great gift of PZI Membership and the core of our practice. Join us! Open Temple is always FREE for PZI Members.

Joining as a member or donating to Pacific Zen Institute helps keep the dharma lamps lit!

Get to know us better

Ask the Tea Lady: What question is most present for you? Ask!

How to Join Us and what is membership

Koans: The healing stories and poems of our lineage

Meditation Practice: The basics on koans and sitting

Member Stories: Members speak about themselves and their practice

Koan Lineage: Teachings passed down for centuries, teacher to teacher

The PZI Way: What’s different about Zen at PZI?

Women in Zen: Our long lineage of influential women, nuns and teachers 

Uncertainty Club: PZI’s online magazine of Field Notes on Zen & the Arts

We’ll be seeing you

Questions on navigating the website or navigating our PZI community? Contact Jan Black at [email protected]

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