Hello Friends,

The wildfire smoke has cleared in California, the rain is falling, and golden finches hurtle through the apricot tree, as if the flock itself were a large, flexible creature. The tree, which is shedding yellow leaves, and I are part of that creature too. In retreat we dream each other’s dreams, an intelligence appears that is greater than we have alone—we see that we, too, are a large flexible creature.

We are re-imagining Zen, here at PZI. We are temples, a library, conversations and writings, we are a vessel for waking up. As with most non-profit organizations, we give away all we make and quite a bit more. We do our best to bring it back again at the end of the year with the generosity of you, our friends.


I’ve been noticing that in our culture money is a demon. It’s like death or sex in that way; it’s untouchable and it needs to be touched, appreciated, seen; it’s a matter of coming into relationship with it— it’s a place where reality meets the kindness of the teachings. We’re working hard to make PZI sustainable and so I’m reaching out—please reach back toward us and make a donation. Together we’ll be investigating the money demon. I’ve come to think of fundraising the way I think of koans and the Zen path—I keep company with the problem and give my whole heart to it. Then I ask honestly for what we need in order to keep going.

Our goal is $100,000, which is what we need in order to meet the year to come.

So here’s your part: Just for this moment, think of what the teachings mean to you and give your whole attention and heart to the question. Consider how generous you can be, because this is what makes it possible to do what we do. Now…make a donation, or join us as a member, making a monthly commitment. We are grateful to be able to do this work. Your contributions keep us going. It’s a way to embody the Dharma. And we can practice for those who do not have a practice or who are too hard-pressed.

I went through cancer treatment again this year; it was a good meditation, lying in an MRI at UCLA and being radiated: “Who is hearing these clanks and whistles? Who is hungry, who is tired, who is afraid?” Later, the old dragon at radiation oncology said the results were “stupendous”. I liked him a lot at that moment. So it looks like I’ll be around and teaching.

As Linji, the founder of our koan lineage, said:

Wherever you are, just take the role of host, and your place will be a true one.


You will receive a copy of a signed, limited edition of John Tarrant’sStory of the Buddha book if you give $250 or more.

Now, here’s a little bit about the teachings and what we’ve been up to.

Koan Meditation:

I, too, was hoping for a kinder, less violent culture, and that everyone would understand that when birds fly, they fly through our hearts. But it will be enough for us to understand that hope and sorrow, as well as madness and sanity, hurtle through our own hearts and fly around like birds. Without regret we feel the time. This is what it means to be a Bodhisattva—to welcome our own lives, to walk the path with each other. Koans are intended for impossible times. Koan meditation is the thing that changes everything.

Here’s How We Do It:

1. Meditate, keep a koan with you. In the midst of chaos, our task is to step onto the paths of awakening. The peace we find is for us, but it touches others. Koans are for impossible problems.

2. Fortunately there is no foundation to rely on. Not knowing is on our side. That is what locates us so we are always at home.

3. You are not living the wrong life. We don’t have to hope things will go back to normal. Many things will happen, and they will be our new life. It’s good practice not to regret the time we are in.

4. Everything we do is practice. Each piece of the light is all of the light. The practice is the most important thing we do and we can do it together. So that’s the Dharma. Your donation keeps turning the wheel.


2018 at Pacific Zen Institute: What We’ve Been Up To.1. Building KALPA (Koans And Liberation Project Archive), a vast and wonderful online library with decades of talks and transcripts and video. It was the project of 3 years and much creative effort, and dharma content will be added regularly.

2. Training Leaders: A great program for those who run small koan groups. If you want to start a koan group, we’ll coach you.

3. Running Retreats: We have a growing and vibrant retreat schedule of local, commuter and residential retreats all year long.

4. Maintaining Systems: We keep body and soul together with hardworking, smart and dedicated people keeping websites and video and the database and payment processing functioning 24 hours a day. This is super-important.

5. Improving Our Bookkeeping: We’ve done a major overhaul of our bookkeeping, for the first time since the Stone Age. Which means more precise information for decision-makers.

6. Video: We’ve been creating short teachings and also stream talks live to YouTube and Facebook with ever improving technology and quality (find our YouTube channel here).

7. Giving The Teachings Away: We give scholarships to all our events and we open our doors to everyone who comes. We have participants of all ages and backgrounds, regardless of their ability to pay.

8. Teaching: Our teachers are unselfishly holding more retreats in more places: short retreats, long retreats, affordable retreats, fundraisers.

9. Editing, Writing, Making Artwww.uncertainty.club is our marvelous online magazine and one of the few places in the world where the Dharma and the arts intersect. Go here to see it and subscribe. We write and translate and publish articles in many places.

– John Tarrant

Support Us

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.

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