Pacific Zen Institute is a community in the Rinzai Zen tradition (Chan), which embraces Zen koan practice, creativity, and real life.

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

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, Gates & Obstacles. Feb. 28, 2021.

Working with Koans – A transcribed talk by John Tarrant Roshi 

‘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.’

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.

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

This Article introduces Koan Practice: The Power of Koan Practice – John Tarrant, Shambala Sun

More ways to explore:

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. 

•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.

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 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.”

– Mumonkan Case 62

In the KALPA (Library):
Not Knowing is Most Intimate

A Dharma talk on the Book of Serenity, given by John Tarrant at Fall Sesshin 2019, Land of Medicine Buddha.

Pages you may find interesting:

Meditation Practice

Member Stories

Koan Lineage

KoansHealing stories & poems passed down in our lineage.


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


For any questions or navigating the website or greater experience of community in this time of covid sequestering, contact

If you would like to contact us by mailwe have a new mailing address: 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.

Join our Mailing List


Stay in touch with news from: