February 6, 2013
The Joy of Practice Is Felt in This Valley

Report on the 91st Practice Period
by Shinchi Linda Galijan, Tassajara Director

“Throughout Zenshinji,* the Dharma safely resides, bringing all peace…”

On this bright winter afternoon, the doans* are practicing for Nenju, the ceremony to mark the end of another Tassajara week.  The narcissus are in full bloom, their delicate fragrance scenting the air.  Bobcats are mating above the first overlook, northern flickers and canyon wrens are singing their hearts out, and the 91st Practice Period, led by Senior Dharma Teacher Ryushin Paul Haller, feels wondrously strong and joyous.

IMG_4485 by David SilvaBrightThere are 63 monks in this valley, including 26 tangaryo (first practice period) students — that means 26 Way-Seeking Mind talks will be given!  There is tremendous energy and enthusiasm for practice, and the chanting in morning service is so full and harmonious that all beings are surely waking up together.  Shuso* Ann Baker is steadfastly ringing our new wake-up bell, which is inscribed, “Awake! Each one, Awake!”  The old bell was rung so hard and for so many years that it finally cracked.

Already much work has been done to prepare for the new temple gate to be installed during the April work period.  The gate is being designed and built by master builder PaLotus Sutra flower dragon close topBen GuevaraBrightul Discoe, who is training a group of apprentices in Zen Joinery.  The old gate, which was also designed by Paul Discoe, was taken down a few weeks ago so that landscaping around the gate site could begin, to be ready for the opening of guest season.  Preparatory work is moving forward on projects to install beautiful new LED path lighting (which will enable us to significantly reduce our carbon footprint), as well as “Dharma Rain,” the permanent sprinkler system to protect Tassajara in case of fire.

lanterns, monk, zendo eveningBen GuevaraBrightContrastApplications are already pouring in for summer work practice.  If you’re thinking about coming for the summer, don’t wait to send your application in, as space is limited.  It’s looking to be a great summer, with a number of the people who are here now staying on to continue their practice.  Come join us!


* Zenshinji means Zen Mind Temple.

* Doan is the person who keeps time in the zendo and sounds the bells.

*Shuso is the Head Monk.