A Day at Tassajara

The Tassajara shuso ceremony is always later in December than those at City Center or Green Gulch, and I planned my recent travels around being able to attend last Friday. Being there felt like an oasis of formal ritual in the midst all my recent worldly activities.

It makes for a long day: leaving the city at six in the morning, driving down through the morning rush hour to Jamesburg, switching vehicles to one of the Tassajara Suburbans – I was driving this part, and had to negotiate some ice and snow at the higher elevations of the road – some tea and socialising with the monks, two or more hours of ceremony, time for a quick bathe, dinner, and then the four-plus hours of driving back to the city, which culminated this time in a very heavy downpour as we came up the last few miles of 280.

Nevertheless, in the three years since I was shuso, I have always found it a trip worth making, to see my friends take their turn in the spotlight. Djinn has been my good friend at Zen Center for many years (there was a running joke at the ceremony that she was everyone’s special friend), and it was wonderful to see her take her place on the teaching seat, and deliver consistently strong answers to people on both sides of the hall – the sixty or so practice period monks, and the large numbers of former shusos who had come. It was notable that none of the latter chose to push her with their questioning, which is always a sign that they trust the answers they have already heard.

DSCF0189Djinn, holding the fan, after the ceremony, talking with one of the monks. Paul, who led the practice period, and Greg, the tanto, are behind her, in the brown robes.

By the way, I have updated the calendar page, and will continue to do so as events get confirmed, so please check the tab above the header photograph.

4 thoughts on “A Day at Tassajara

  1. A special day, indeed! I love the light of the sun emanating on everyone. And because I know something of this part of Tassajara – A great shot Shundo. Great shot of the earth over SF. I was also caught in the downpour. ‘And look a blue sky’.


    1. Thanks, Shalamah. The difference in the winter of course is that the sun is barely above the overlook ridge, and that the student eating area, and the courtyard, get no direct sun for months…


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