On May 22, Zenko Jordan Montgomery received shukke tokudo (priest ordination) from his teacher, Zenshin Greg Fain, along with co-preceptors City Center Abiding Abbot Tenzen David Zimmerman and Tassajara Tanto Shinchi Linda Galijan. Zenko has been a resident of Tassajara for six years, where he is currently the Tenzo (Head Cook); he is married to Lauren Bouyea.
The ordination ceremony in the Tassajara zendo was familiar and traditional, which felt utterly remarkable in light of the past year. The difference from past ceremonies was that it was streamed via Zoom to allow invited family members and friends to attend virtually. Zenko and Lauren’s 11-month-old daughter, Mirabelle, was also in the assembly, until she made it clear that it was nap-time.
The doors and windows were wide open to the bright, cool morning, and bird song filled the valley as Zenko received priest robes, okesa and rakusu that he sewed by hand, traditional lacquered wood formal eating bowls, and the sixteen Bodhisattva precepts. He then received lineage papers from his teacher with his Dharma name, Zenko Isshin (Zen Tiger, One Trust).
After the ceremony, there was a celebratory outdoor feast in the courtyard. The whole day felt all the more special because this was the first significant ceremony that had been held in the zendo in such a very long time. The joy in witnessing Zenko’s ordination was beautifully evident on everyone’s faces.
During the last several months, the residential community at Tassajara has been very small. Yet the residents have maintained a daily schedule, and are following health and safety protocols.
While there won’t be a guest season this summer, Tassajara is accepting applications for a limited number of work practice summer students from May 4 to September 13. Unlike typical summers when they are assigned a specific crew, the work practice students will be working on a variety of different tasks.
Tassajara Director Goyo Piper says it will be most beneficial to have students join for the entire summer or for extended periods of a month or longer, although two-week stays are possible. There is no deadline to apply.
Tassajara will offer a Fall Practice Period led by Senior Dharma Teacher Ryushin Paul Haller, from September 13 to December 12.
The intense schedule and atmosphere of a traditional Zen Ango (Practice Period) support practitioners to go beyond their usual sense of self and enter the wide open life of the Buddha. Kindness and love for one another will be our watchwords as we negotiate the way together for these precious few months. Read more
This week San Francisco Zen Center’s leadership made the difficult but necessary decision to close Tassajara for the remainder of the Guest Season and to cancel the Fall Work Period. While this is disappointing news, the health and safety of our guests and community is too important to risk.
The closing of Guest Season offers us a unique opportunity to address important and much needed fire prevention measures. Tassajara’s Fire Marshal Rob Thomas has friends in the wildland fire community who are interested in making Tassajara a safer place for residents, guests, and future emergency responders. We’re planning for a group of 5 to 10 people who can take crucial steps towards preparing the area for the high-alert fire seasons that are unfortunately expected this year and in the future.
The crew will work on a number of fire safety projects and begin clearing the surrounding underbrush to reduce flammable material.
Tassajara is grateful for your love and support as we navigate this extraordinary time. We look forward to when we can open the gates and share this beautiful valley with you once again. Read more
In the summer of 2019, the photographer and artist Tasja Keetman visited the three San Francisco Zen Center locations. Her playful and creative interpretations, such as this one taken in the abbot’s garden at Tassajara, are delightful and evocative versions of these familiar locations and images.