From August 3rd through September 9th this year I’ll be waiting tables at Tassajara Zen Mountain Monastery. There is no Internet access at Tassajara and cell phone signals can’t make it into the valley.
It’s up a winding dirt road seven miles into the mountains and then down seven more rocky miles into a canyon. So it’s about as remote as you can get anymore in these here United States of ours. While I’m away you can send me postal mail at the following address.
c/o Tassajara Zen Mountain Center
39171 Tassajara Rd.
Carmel Valley Village, CA 93924
This is something I’ve been doing every year. It’s good for me to do the monastic thing whenever I can. Some argue that working at Tassajara in the summer is not a true monastic experience. But they’re wrong. It’s not the same monastic experience as doing a 90-day ango (practice period). The rules are slightly less rigid, the wake-up bell rings at a somewhat more reasonable time, there are guests staying at the place and not observing any of its rules and so on. But it’s a real monastic experience nonetheless. Just a different one.
They wake you up at 5:10 AM, you start zazen at 5:40, do an hour of zazen, then there’s morning service with chanting of the Heart Sutra, the Enmei Juku Kannnon Gyo and the names of the Buddhist lineage ancestors (male and female) plus a bonus chant that changes each day. Then there’s breakfast which starts off silent but at which talking is allowed after the first ten minutes, after that there’s a “work circle” at which the community gathers and the upcoming day’s events are announced, then you go to work. At the end of the work day there’s another short service where the Dai Hi Shin Darani is chanted. Dinner is served after that. At ten minutes before 8 in the evening the residents gather for another 40 minutes of zazen and then everybody goes to sleep.
This is the daily schedule for all student workers and staff. Paying guests do pretty much whatever they want. Student workers are not paid for their service unless they elect to spend the entire summer. If they do this, they are “paid” in the form of being eligible for a free practice period (current charge is $3,500 for the 90 days). Otherwise you only get paid in good vibes, karma, plus free room and board. Hopefully the mice in your room won’t be too noisy. But the food is great and it’s a really nice place to be.
I’ve asked some folks to put up audio files of a few of my recent talks during my Northeast Tour while I’m away. So you’ll have those to listen to. And I’ll be back soon!
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I’m not making any money at Tassajara, so your continuing donations are still appreciated. The “thank you” notes I send when I receive them will be a bit delayed, though. Sorry about that!