Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, established in 1966, is the first Soto Zen training monastery in the West. It is one of three practice centers that together comprise San Francisco Zen Center.
Nestled deep in a valley in the Santa Lucia Mountain Range inland from Big Sur, California, Tassajara evokes a strong sense of place. Native people and Spanish pilgrims were its early visitors, drawn to the medicinal virtues of Tassajara's natural hot springs. When Shunryu Suzuki Roshi and some of the first American Zen students arrived, Tassajara had been operating as a hotel and health spa for nearly a century. San Francisco Zen Center has continued this tradition, keeping Tassajara open during summer months for day-visitors, guests, and retreat participants to experience for themselves the tranquility, hospitality, and spiritual nourishment for which Tassajara is known. During a typical summer, Tassajara welcomes over 3000 visitors and holds over forty Zen-inspired retreats. The summer months also provide many Zen students, who choose to stay from one week to the entire summer, their first opportunity of living and working in a residential practice community.
In the Fall, Tassajara resumes its rigorous monastic schedule, holding two 3-month intensive practice periods and enabling sixty to eighty participants to drop more deeply into formal Zen training. The monastic schedule includes daily zazen (approximately seven periods/day), time for study, formal oryoki meals, lectures, classes, community work periods, and close contact with teachers. Participants are asked to organize their lives so that they can fully commit to the 90-day period. Because of its remote location, there is no cell phone reception or internet access at Tassajara.
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