Saturday, June 28, 2008

Saturday afternoon

A seemingly normal Saturday for us as we drove into the village to get produce...wondering if the smoky tendrils on the hillside were fog or smoke. Today, though, instead of our usual pile of boxes full of fruit and vegetables to be loaded into the trailer, we found a mere 25 boxes which we nested into the Suburban instead of the guests who ordinarily take the ride with us down the bumpy road to Tassajara.

The load in also included several gallons of ice cream for the approximately 45 firefighters and 22 students who are still at Tassajara working diligently. We don't know how long they will be allowed to stay, although the Basin Complex fire and the Indians fire appear to moving slowly and not currently threatening Tassajara directly.

Our neighbor and good friend, Tommy Nason, stopped by today to tell us about the bulldozing work started yesterday. Seven dozers are working fire breaks from the 1977 and 1999 fires, toward Arroyo Seco and the coast. His 85 year old father, Fred, rode his horse in front as they made their way to the coast, cutting fences and looking to save Native American sites that exist along the way.

It's cool and slightly smoky with a mild breeze here in Jamesburg...Tassajara laundry is on the line; bathhouse mats, kitchen aprons, mattress covers...waiting for the resumption of the summer we expected as we take care of what is needed for the summer we have now...


Fir Tree said...

It looks like you have done a lot already to prepare. I am available if needed.
Bob Dunn

Fir Tree said...

I am available

Brad said...

I hope this works. We here at Dogen Sangha in Los Angeles did a well-being ceremony for you guys. And we *never* do ceremonies here. Let Greg Fain know we honored his request. So you have some good vibes coming, for what that's worth.

Maia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maia said...

Bravo Jamesburg, and all who are in the trenches at Tassajara. And I have to compliment your writing style too... very eloquent, in the face of the big thing.

I am stationed here in Northern New Mexico and the folks at Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe are offering up the merit for Tassajara as well... may all beings be safe and happy.

Alec said...

Just a reminder to residents...please check in and let us know you are well at our google group at

Alec said...

From: Alec Henderson
Date: Sat, 28 Jun 2008 19:44:29-0700 (PDT)
Local: Sat, Jun 28 2008 7:44 pm

Subject: Robert Thomas' Statement or "Why its a bad idea to leave me and Ginger out here without a leash!"

Ok, So Ginger and I are here in Santa Cruz staying in a lovely house by ourselves and across the street from Jean Marie..we all went to the Boardwalk last night and listened to Herman's Hermits play a free concert on the beach.

This morning we got up and walked five minutes to the Santa Cruz Zen Center and sat zazen came home and had a wonderful breakfast and took a nap. Then we read the LA Times story and we were reminded that
our friends and family (both sangha and my new step sister) are on the
front lines fighting fatigue and facing the danger of a firestorm to
try to save Tassajara. This made us sad and made us want to do more.

You might think this would keep me from swatting the hornet's nest,
from rousing the rabble, from stirring the pot or from causing trouble and dissension.

You might think that I would stay still and silent and
try to be of better will to support the on-going efforts at ground
zero; to avoid disharmony. You might think that I would remain
unperturbed at the shortcomings of our leaders and the negligence of
their public statements. You might think that...

But then you'd be wrong!

With all due respect and in my humble opinion, Robert Thomas owes
almost every resident at Tassajara an apology for his apocryphal
description of our departure last week.

Here's why:

In his published statement on the Zen Center website
Mr. Thomas states:

"On Monday of last week, responding to mandatory evacuation orders,there was an orderly and effective caravan-style exit from Tassajara.All of the 75 guests and most of the approximately 65 Zen students left at that time."

Uh, pardon my French but..Bullshit! This statement is simply and
utterly false.

All of the guests did leave.

And some students left.

But the majority of students stayed to save their monastery
notwithstanding being forced to submit next of kin information as well as the names of their dentists should their bodies be charred beyond recognition!

That is, in my opinion, devotion, loyalty, courage and a whole bunch
of other complimentary nouns!

On Wednesday of that same week (that's two days later, Robert) the
remainder of students was evacuated by demand. Almost everyone wanted
to stay but complied with senior staff and made an orderly exodus by

This second evacuation seems to have been conveniently
compressed into the first.

During the two days which Mr. Thomas has now historically redacted from the record, students dug in dirty and sweaty and worked around the clock digging fire lines in the hot and smoky air, they were
attacked by mosquitoes throughout the day who thought that the red
filtered sunlight meant it was sundown. They were scratched and gouged by tree limbs and branches, they got ticks in their skin and no one complained because they were 100 percent present and involved with what they were doing. When forced out they went without complaint. Their efforts and willingness to stay and fight even at the peril of their own lives deserves better than the expedient of omission.

During this emergency there is much to be considered and handled. But ignoring the students' efforts, courage, and loyalty in the service of Zen Center and defense of her jewel in the mountains is about as
unskillful as you can get.

As one of the many forced out and who stand by willing and able and
wanting more than anything to return to Tassajara's defense I feel greatly offended.

It's quite hard enough being separated from the Sangha without this appalling lack of support.

Please understand that I am an institutional antagonist by
profession. This is just what I do.

I hope the "powers that be" recognize that it will be much easier on
everyone if I am allowed back to dig fire lines instead of being left
out here to shoot my mouth off and thereby cause upset and suffering.

Please support my vow to do no harm and send me back ASAP.

**bows to computer screen**

With all the love in my black little heart,


Mark Rothman said...

We wish you much strength and luck as you fight to save precious Tassajara. If it gets really dangerous please remember buildings are not as important as people. Much love to all and a special shout out to Sonya.
Mark and Vicki Rothman
Los Angeles, CA
guests for many past seasons

pathofkindness said...

Hey Alec,

I hope that you are ok.

My apologies to you and others for making the mistake of compressing the time frame on the evacuation. I certainly did not intend to diminish the courageous contributions of the many amazing students at Tassajara. Nor did I intend to disrespect you or mislead anyone else in my brief account of recent events. For as you wonderfully point out, I was clearly mistaken in thinking that most of the students were evacuated on Monday instead of Wednesday.

My sincere apologies to you and anyone else who was offended.

best wishes,


Anonymous said...

This is Ko:

Tears to protect the Tassajara jewel have sprouted. At this moment i feel pulled to pack my shovel, camera, face mask, water bottle & food & thick clothing & gloves & lopers and head for the Ridge, no more blogging and emails and phone calls and just go. By 10am!?., 510.705.8770

barbara said...

Blessings and success to all the brave, strong participants turning back the fires from Tassajara.
We send love and light to all and a special wish for safety to our friend, Sonja - I'm sewing the quilted, insulated pot covers and expect to deliver them for use before long.
Barbara Sommers & Peter Dittler