By Tova Green
Thanks to Leslie James, Abiding Tassajara Teacher, Linda Galijan, previous SFZC President now living at Tassajara, and Goyo Piper, Tassajara Director, for talking with me about how Tassajara is doing throughout the Covid -19 Pandemic and about strategies to resume for visitors in 2022.
An expression that records the spirit of life at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center throughout this winter season of the Covid -19 Pandemic is the expression “continuous practice.” Goyo and Linda talked about how “we continue practicing here, regardless of the circumstances or the numbers.” They follow a schedule comparable to the City Center schedule, working Monday through Friday with a half-day rest on Wednesday, and are off from Saturday afternoon throughSunday Everyone is on the exact same schedule, which enables individuals to go go or satisfy on walkings together on day of rests.
Since the end of the Winter 2020 Practice Period, 10 to 20 trainees have actually been living atTassajara The number reduced last summertime due to close-by wildfires and has actually gradually grown back to the existing population of twelve trainees and a baby.
Residents have actually been making great usage of this time to look after Tassajara and to do work that might not be done when Tassajara is totally occupied. In late Fall, half a lots experienced work duration volunteers signed up with locals to continue a job of updating trainee real estate. The 5 cabins in between the upper and lower barns, called Redwood City, have actually been insulated and now have double-pane windows.
The volunteers likewise changed significant pipelines running under the cooking area flooring. To gain access to the pipeline, they needed to collect the tile flooring from one end of the cooking area to the other. Due to the dust created in cutting through the concrete structure, the entire cooking area needed to be curtained from the ceiling beams with sheets of clear plastic to avoid dust from covering whatever. “It looked like a Christo installation over an archeological dig,” Linda stated.
Two firemens came in after that to assist with fire readiness. Their primary task was fuel decrease, which included cutting, cleaning, and burning dead leaves, brush and trees, mainly in main Tassajara, however they extended out in both instructions along the creek till the end of the roadway.
Tassajara is so grateful to these extremely experienced and fantastic Bodhisattvas, who offered to come in and provide their time.
Residents just recently had a five-and-a-half day sesshin, a prolonged meditation session. Everyone pitched in to support the sesshin, everyone working the equivalent of about one day. People practiced meditation in their specific cabins with a trainee ringing the densho bell exterior the zendo to indicate when the durations of zazen ended and started. Everyone came together every day to do one duration of outside kinhin (strolling meditation).
Linda and Greg Fain, the Tanto, will begin teaching a class in early March, conference on the yard one afternoon a week. They will utilize Dogen’s text on Gyoji (Continuous Practice). Gyoji consists of numerous stories about how Zen instructors of the previous manifested constant practice. At the end of the class, Linda and Greg strategy to compose the story about how the Tassajara monks embodied constant practice throughout the pandemic. Linda kept in mind, “We are doing continuous practice here and now, in this time.”
Leslie James stated the choice not to resume this summertime was challenging to make and included numerous conferences that consisted of the Abbots, Officers, Board Chair, and the Health and Safety Committee, that includes a number of doctors. The choice was thoroughly considered and looked into from the point of views of security, the require for a complete personnel to support visitors, and an evaluation of SFZC’s operations.
“We want to get back to having people come to the valley,” Leslie stated, “and two things need to happen – widespread vaccinations for Covid-19 and rebuilding the student population.” Much of the Tassajara experience is common– the bathhouse, dining-room, bag lunch, workshops and retreats– and while the vaccination procedure is presenting well today, there is no chance of understanding when it will be safe enough this summertime to invite visitors.
Leslie commented, “Tassajara misses people and looks forward to the day when we can all be in the valley again.”
To read the letter from SFZC management on the choice to not provide our routine Summer Guest Season, click on this link.