Who we are – Creating a Culture: What is the Pacific Zen Institute?

The Pacific Zen Institute is a community in the Rinzai Zen tradition that embraces 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. 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.

How do we create a culture of transformation and awakening?

The important part of awakening, the fun part, is to embody the transformation and actually live in the world that’s transformed. We find out what it’s like to be free, to live inside a mind that’s open and free — and that’s worth a lot. One feature of awakening is that it’s light; you can ‘travel’ easily because you don’t need a lot of equipment. Effort and apparatus turn out to be optional. It’s something anyone can do.

We want to make it easy to trip over moments of clarity, big and small, and also to support each other to live in this fresher air. Enlightenment happens to us in a world where there are other beings. The Bodhisattva idea is that we live in a field with each other, and our most profound wish is that we can be happy and have joy in each other’s joy. A culture is something we all contribute to, with our kindness, our service, our encouragement. As a community we help deepen one another’s practice.

Am I really welcome at PZI?

David Weinstein, Roshi & Director of RMC

At the Pacific Zen Institute we welcome people of all backgrounds, colors, genders, religions, ethnicities, and sexual orientations. We are committed to helping people step into freedom in their real lives, just as they are. We offer sanctuary, community, a place for self-care, and for honest conversation about how to navigate these times with freedom and humor and joy. Everyone is welcome here, no matter how you are feeling, where you come from, what you believe.

At a PZI center, small group, or retreat you’ll find a community of people exploring the path of meditation and freedom, and a space for open conversation about the journey. If you choose to become a member of PZI, and work with a teacher, you’ll help us grow the this larger culture of awakening as you actively engage with your personal practice.

Brightness appears through whatever is in front of us, whether beautiful or difficult. We are happy that you are here, peering through that gate, ready to embrace your own life.

Dana & RMC Mailing List Signup

Here is a direct link to support your teacher(s) with Dana.

Give Dana

Hello, sign up to receive our weekly PZI RMC email newsletter.


Donate to PZI

Through your generosity, you help people find their own path into awakening and you help us grow.

Your support allows us to support our teachers, keep our doors open to everyone regardless of means, and make sure our systems run smoothly.