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September 13, 2011

At Home at Tassajara

A Guest Testimonial

To celebrate my boyfriend’s birthday, we immersed ourselves in a guest practice weekend at Tassajara in June 2011. Tassajara holds a special place in my boyfriend’s heart, as he lived there in the mid ’90s for almost three years. I had visited Tassajara once before in 2004 and longed to return ever since.

So when the occasion arose for us to experience Tassajara together, we felt blessed. We opted to drive into Tassajara on our own, which is a right of passage in itself. The views of the mountains of the Ventana wilderness are breathtaking and otherworldly. As one descends into the valley where Tassajara is nestled, time stands still.

Colorful Buddha by Valerie Boquet

The highlights of our weekend were many. The zendo, centerpiece of Tassajara, with its still, soulful, sturdy presence, comforts and invites. Waking to the early morning bell stirred memories of school days punctuated by hurried discipline. Scurrying to prepare for morning zazen with my partner in the soft lantern light was especially amusing. When I finally settled onto my cushion in the zendo for morning meditation, I felt as though I were home. Our work practice in the mornings encompassed cleaning guest rooms as well as cutting vegetables for the evening meal. Our immersion in the quotidian activity of Tassajara brought my partner and I closer together as we bonded intimately with the community.

Our meals, shared with students in the morning and guests in the evening, were sustaining, comforting, and delicious. The company with whom we shared our meals was engaging, and the conversations were amusing and enlightening.

In the afternoons we explored hiking trails, enjoyed the swimming pool, and as afternoon turned to evening we each retreated to the men’s and women’s warm pools, reveling in the picturesque Zen settings. Joining my partner in the outdoor plunge under a pristine night sky capped an amazing day.

Once one experiences Tassajara, the seed of longing to return is planted.

Sue Imperial

Oakland, California

August, 2011

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