High Schools: Pacific Paradise

In a 40-acre valley surrounded by mountains of the Pacific Coastal Range, 40 long-robed youths were introduced last week to the mysteries of Zen. Under the direction of a roshi (teacher), they spent long hours in meditation on black zazen cushions, chanted incantations through meals of miso (soybean soup), carrots, onions, bokchoy salad and Tibetan barley bread, practiced Zen breathing exercises.

The two-day trial at Buddhist living was the latest experiment in learning at California's far-out, freedom-loving Pacific High School. A private school ten miles south of Palo Alto (tuition is scaled...