Sammy Shin grew up in a conservative Korean-American Christian community, and studied psychology. He’s gone shipwreck diving in Bali, helped village children in South India, is really good at flying paper airplanes with kids, and works at a badass sushi restaurant in Windsor. He also helps us out with with the world of form, manifest in social media. Here is his Pacific Zen story:

I first met PZI during the summer of 2014. First, I became a regular at the Santa Rosa zendo. I dropped in on a handful of sesshins. I went to Bolinas a couple of times. But not anything more. Then, in 2016, something shifted – and it came from deep within my heart.  

A realization of how much I loved PZI, of how helpful the community had been for me, how touched I was by teachers and friends. Sometimes you can experience love at first sight but not recognize it right away. That’s what happened to me.

I had been living in Berkeley at the time, leading what felt like a pretty unsuccessful and unfulfilling life. For so long, I couldn’t find a life or path I wanted to commit to. So I decided to move up to Sonoma County, to be with people and a place that I loved. I wanted a more true life, something I knew could sustain me. I was thinking of the future. So, I took the next step.

It all happened very fast. I’ll never forget the precise night that things shifted. It was a Monday. John spoke, and I could smell the sweet fragrance of olive blossoms. I could feel the bright light of suddenly understanding. The deep confusion of death. What a night…

I guess I was ready for it. I became a member. I started meeting with Rachel and working on a koan. I started volunteering. Everything I gave was returned. I guess PZI was ready for me too.

So it’s true that it took me a while to commit, to say “yes,” to let it all in. But I’m glad I did. PZI has been such a stalwart support in my life. Koans, the teachings, the community hold me up. They help me dance through difficult times. They give me a backstage pass to see the universe up-close and personal. It was never a matter of “if.” Just when.

PZI offers something so unique, original, and needed in the world. I don’t have a lot of money to give, but I am giving what I can. I am helping them in other ways. I want to see the organization grow, for the people to be acknowledged for the badass saints that they are, and to be able to help others open their hearts to love, compassion, and a true life.



Read more member stories here.

Sammy doesn’t mind getting his feet wet.

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