Thursday, July 10, 2008

Exodus - partially

Yesterday evening 17 people arrived at Jamesburg from Tassajara. The other 5 evacuees decided to return to Tassajara when they reached the Forest Service check point and were told that they would not be able to return if they left. Two people transferred from one of the Suburbans to another car and that car along with the lumber truck turned round and went back down the hill.

Now at Tassajara are: Steve Stucky, David Zimmerman, Graham Ross, Mako Voekel and Colin Gipson.

We are in regular phone contact with the group who appear to be on their own for a while as the fire has now crossed the road around Lime Point. CHP is also manning a barrier on this side of the hill preventing any access to the National Forest. The fire has not yet reached Tassajara.

The team at Tassajara plan to keep the pumps fuelled so that the sprinkler system stays on. They do not plan to fight the fire and they are receiving a steady flow of requests not to try to do anything heroic.

The morning satellite data shows the fire approaching the road along a broad front with spot fire above the road.

If you're using Google Earth this file has the fire perimeters up to the 8th together with the dozer lines.


Jane said...

I'd like to let people know that beyond whatever is being done from inside Zen Center, a group of us is pressing in every direction for additional help to be given Tassajara--from phoning Boxer and Feinstein's and local politicians' offices to posting requests for help on the wildfire fighters' blog. If it is in fact too late to send a ground crew in, it isn't too late to start doing water drops, by air tanker or helicopter, on the rim of the canyon, to help slow the fire's approach. So that is what I've been lobbying for in my own requests--first ground assistance, but if not that, air assistance.

I'd also like to say (perhaps going out on a limb here) something I am not hearing articulated--support for the decision of the five to return. I think their presence makes much more likely that further assistance will come from the CalFire, and I think their going back in to Tassajara is nothing short of awesome. (A word that originally combined the concepts of fear and magnificence.) I trust their judgment, I trust that the safety zones at Tassajara are well sufficient to keep them free of harm (in '77, with fire burning everywhere around us by the end, I never felt I was in actual danger).

Those of us who have been through this once feel huge gratitude for this decision, and that support needs to be clear--if anyone reading this speaks to the five, please convey that the old warhorses are pulling for them, and their steadfast practice.

A forest fire is a huge teaching to live through... and yes, lives matter far more than any building, and yes, we all can trust that these dear ones will act according to that wisdom, and yes, they will also do what they can, inside that knowledge.

May all beings be safe,


Jane said...

I'd just like to add to my previous comment that I also completely understand, under the prevailing fire conditions, why the decision to evacuate was made, and my statement of support for those who returned is in no way meant to reflect on the equally strong, equally practice-grounded decision to leave.

Anonymous said...

Am also very concerned about the five that stayed behind. Heroism and duty in karmic measure. Impossible to make judgments about staying or going. We do what we are able to do. It's good to see Jane's post and experience. Thanks and deep bows to all who have worked so hard to save Tassajara from fire.

Anonymous said...

Fire Within
Fire Without

The Nature of it all.

Barbara said...

The post says, "They do not plan to fight the fire and they are receiving a steady flow of requests not to try to do anything heroic."

Too late. They are already doing something heroic.

They know what they're doing. They probably need no further guidance from the rest of us who passionately love Tassajara, too.

Jane's suggestion to call Boxer and Feinstein's offices is wise; the phones are (202) 224-3553 for Boxer and (202) 224-3841 for Feinstein.

I just made my calls. Gassho.

John said...

Yes, deep bows and prayers for those who remain in Tassajara. I hope Zen Center is using whatever influence they have with the media and politicians to press home the need for immediate assistance for air support. A proactive approach is necessary considering the inevitable press coverage what is happening there will receive.

Anonymous said...

At 10 this morning, I called the numbers for both Boxer and Feinstein. It did not feel particularly effective as the people answering the phones aren't aware of the specific threat today to Tassajara or even where Tassajara is. What I got was that the senataors are doing what they "can to help the fire situations in California." I'm not sure that is enough. I tried to convey the urgency of the next hours but it seemed to get lost. Is there anything more specific to do that anyone knows of?

Caitlin said...

Deep bows and deep gratitude to everyone at Tassajara, and everyone who's been displaced, and everyone who's sending their love from all over the world. As for many, it seems, Tassajara will always be the special home of my heart. Thank you all so much.

Jane said...

Thanks to those attempting to make calls. The local offices: for Senator Boxer 415-403-0100. When I phoned the DC Boxer office they said I should phone SF about this. It was 6:30 a.m., so I left a message. The local office for Sen Feinstein is 415-393-0707.

The person who answers the phone doesn't matter--if it's not the same person who answered the last call, they'll sound uninformed. The point is only to try to get this up to senior staff levels, where someone can act on it. (The Senators themselves have more pressing matters on their desks, and I began by acknowledging that.)

The main points to make: Tassajara Zen Mt. Center, the oldest Buddhist monastery in America, is in an area of the Los Padres National Forest, inland from Big Sur and on the eastern side of the Basin Complex Fire, which is being allowed to burn. CalFire promised to protect the inholdings from this fire, and have given assistance up until now, but right now there are five people in there who are in deep need of CalFire support. If a ground crew cannot be sent in, air tanker or helicopter support with water drops would be a great help. A phone call from a Senator's office carries great weight, and what I am asking is that a phone call be made to CalFire specifically requesting assistance in the protection of this place of great importance to many thousands. The story has been featured in SF Chronicle, LA Times, CNN, and MSNBC. Please act on this request immediately, as the fire is likely to reach Tassajara sometime today. Help from Jerry Brown in 1977 helped us save the monastery from fire once before, and we would greatly appreciate help from the Senator's office this time.

(I know that's a mouthful. I said a bunch of other things as well, but that's the central set of points likely to matter. )

I have no idea if this will be effective, but help from Jerry Brown did make a difference in '77, and it's at least something those of us out here can do.

Thank you,


Pennie aka: pendoodles said...

I heard on the TV news this morning they plan to wrap the buildings with the fire retardant foil. It ought to help. Remember to head to the water/pools if a firestorm develops. My prayers and support are with you all!

Mike said...

Hi, I wrote a post on Firefighter Blog about the plight of the Center. Hope it helps.
Best of luck to those on the grounds and all the supporters.

They will have quite a story to tell.

Tim said...

The Firefigher Blog has just posted The Battle for Tassajara Hotsprings making a case for the defensibility of Tassajara.

slfisher said...

Since National Forest is involved, would it be helpful to talk to the U.S. Forest Service?

Anonymous said...

if calfire doens't help with water can private chartered air jets w water help (if they exist in this area)?

Anonymous said...

NorthTree Fire - are they already involved or could the be recruited to help with water drops?

Anonymous said...

According to WildfireToday, someone heard via radio scanner that the five at Tassajara did try to leave this morning, and couldn't because of the road. Any conformation of that from Jamesburg?

Anonymous said...

New call for additional fire support at Tassajara from

jesse rudnick said...

I'm sorry I can't be down there with the other 5 to try and protect Tassajara. Please be safe

Chris vLS said...

I placed my calls some time ago to Rep. Farr and Speaker Pelosi. Should we also call CalFire? Or Gov. Arnold? Seems like the governor would be most direct path, without inundating the attention of the firefighters directly.

Similarly, if Jerry Brown intervened before, perhaps we could reach out to him to intervene again?

I'll echo Jane: may all beings be safe.


Barbara said...

Yes, Chris, let's call the Governor. I've sent urgent emails to my network with the two phone #s for the two senators. Let's communicate urgently today with people who have the ability to respond.
Thank you for considering my suggestion.

Anonymous said...

Attachment....heroism....lobbying for help.....magnificent drama.....jaded...blah

Anonymous said...

Our thoughts are with the entire Tassajara community at this time, and particularly with our wonderful Graham and Mako. Be safe.
Joanne and Walter

ac said...

hey, anonymous @ 1.20pm, deeply unhelpful. go make yourself useful, ok? anyone have contact info for jerry brown? surely some of the old zc crowd must have direct pull with the man. abbots current & former using their contacts in a big way right now, i hope. big donors, too? i'm making calls now... assuming talking to a live person is better than leaving a message, so i'm keeping at the phone lines.

Anonymous said...

Keep calling, but be aware, there are five spot fires that have crossed the road, and at least 3 fires are less than a tenth of a mile from the road. Airborne help looks like the best bet. Also, the google map 5 minutes ago showed Tassajara still almost half a mile from the fire on the other side of the hogback. That's the closest fire so far.

Anonymous said...

People answering the phones at Feinstein's and Boxer's offices are familiar with the Tassajara fire by now, it's very easy to call and make your voice heard. It's surprisingly easy to do. Do it now. Time really matters. Be sure to include importance of air support--road probably closed next 3-4 days.

Anonymous said...

make myself useful....remember one pp hearing a zen story...something like this. monk returns to his hut to find it burning and a bucket brigade of villagers trying to safe the burning structure. monk, much to the suprise of the villagers starts throwing fuel on the fire instead of trying to extinguish it....I forgot the morale of the story....useful? did not think so....

Barbara said...

Thank you for responding with urgency and action. Again the Boxer phone #s are (202) 224-3553 and 415-403-0100; Feinstein phones are (202) 224-3841 and 415-393-0707.

Anonymous said...

with all this usefullness abounding, i thought someone needed to play the role of antagonist. Btw i think it was steve stucky telling the story... must be a metaphor surely....think I am done now though... make myself useful and mow the lawn now.

ac said...

me, i prefer a little relative with my absolute.

thanks for those providing actionable info. i've suggested to dana velden that an email blast to the sangha-e list would be helpful to get more folks making these calls.

numbers i have so far, to recap:

Sen Boxer 415.403.0100
Sen Feinstein 415.393.0707
Congr Farr (Monterey) 831.373.4607
Congr Pelosi 415.556.4862
Governor, Sacto office 916.445.2841
Governor, SF office 415.703.2218

just found the last 2 numbers, haven't called yet. anyone know if faxing & email is better/good to do in addition?

Anonymous said...

also very concerned about the wellfare of the beautiful beings remaining at tassajara. I can't help however that a part of me is wondering what it would be like if the buildings burned down and the area was visually not so appealing anymore, maybe the springs would be bust as well. Could it be rebuilt as a retreat center/monastery funtioning on a dana only basis rather then as a fund generator and quasi resort....Could it be a place where we actually live the buddhas teachings fully. A place that might inspire the lay community to manifest their generosity voluntarily, and could offer the dharma and the example of people living free, rather then hotsprings and 4 star vegetarian fare. I guess that attracts people as well, seems to limit access slightly however on the basis of income etc...... It would be lovely to see trust and faith, selflessness etc manifest, and peoples energy devoted to applying the teachings instead of an often observed belief in scarcity, worrying about money, and figuring out ways to have enough.....maybe if a structure is not optimal to do what it is supposed to do, it is not so bad for it to be forced to change, or at least be given the opportunity to adapt and evolve?

Anonymous said...

from SFZC website:
(7/10/2008, 2:40 PM PDT)

At 2:15 today, Director David Zimmerman reported via telephone that everyone is safe at Tassajara and that the fire has entered Tassajara. The crew is putting out spot fires, and they are continuing to water down the buildings and the grounds. The feeling is that with the watering, the riparian valley is defending against the fire. We will continue to update you as information becomes available.

Pennie aka: pendoodles said...

Thanks AC for listing all the phone numbers again. I have tried many times to get through to Sen Boxer, Sen Feinstein, Congr Farr only to get busy signals. That must mean some people are getting through! At least we hope and pray they are. I will keep trying to call.

catwrangler said...

As a guest of Tassajara for the last 6 years and a former work/study student - the idea of Tassajara ever being closed to guests is not something I would want. I believe the property was always intended as a place to generate revenue for SFZC and it would be unfortunate if those that do not have the space in their life to be residents could not be exposed to the Zen and the beauty of the place. I didn't think we were that 'bad' as guests and realized that we were paying a premium for something that I could partake of in a different sense if I had the time to do another work/study practice. Even when I did the work/study practice with SFZC - I paid for the privilege - literally.

I have been to Japan and stayed in Monasteries where even then there is the balance between residents and guests. Maybe with the exception of those that can make large scale donations, I don't think those of us who can save up each year for our trip to go to Tassajara would just donate the $1000 dollars that we spend on the stay just as a donation. I don't think the lay person should ever be exempt from zen. If that is that wish for exclusion, then doesn't someone just become a resident at Green Gulch where there are only guests on Sunday?

Sorry this has just made bristle a bit as I have always felt welcome by the residents at Tassajara while in the dining room or in Zendo. I've always felt like the premium that I pay as a guest is helping those that can live in a monastic setting through the winter which unfortunately I can't.

My heart breaks with the thought of the lose of Tassajara and the dangers that those who stayed face too.

Paul Hoffman said...

Thinking a bit more about "don't do anything heroic". Reb has taught that it is quite heroic to completely sit. There are at least five people who have a mundane-but-immediate life that is probably reducing their ability to sit and be big-mind heroic. I'll do a bit more sitting to help make up for them.

Anonymous said...

I hope for the sake of the residents that Tassajara can be saved. I am sending good thoughts to those who remain on the grounds that they remain safe. Good luck to all.

Danny said...

Last night I dreamed of Tassajara
Tossed and turned...

Now, supremely inspired.
I renew my vow to do the best in a life
By those who seize their own
Providing help and sanctuary for all beings

Monks and fire everywhere.
But inside the cool creek abounds.

108 Bows

Anonymous said...

hey cat,

i was not for a moment advocating exclusivity, rather the opposite, availability to all, at no cost. so that anyone can experience the beauty of zen and the dharma. also not for a minute expressing a lack of appreciation for the guests. i have always enjoyed the visitors and the benefit that both they and we received from each other. there are however places like tassajara that offer all their teachings, accomodations etc for free, and function by donation only. My experience there has been that the actualization of the teachings, the expression of it in the life of the monks is deeper, and that the depth of their integrity and commitment inspired plenty of support from the community. whereas i sometimes wonder if the merging of a capitalist model with a spiritual one, may not limit the capacity of each to be most efficacious. anyways, sorry if anyone felt like I wanted tassajara only for the monks. if you read the original post again, i do not think i said anything like it.

Anonymous said...

phone for sen boxer's office in Washington dc: 202 224 3553

Anonymous said...

Hey Anon at 3:22--thanks for the clarification because even though your post may not have said that, it sort of felt that way. And it's a little raw at this moment for that feeling.

Anonymous said...

i got through to Boxer's office in DC earlier today and was told that she is following the situation and knows about Tassajara's special history. when i called again they were closed (east coast time..). Sometimes they are easier to get to in Washington. Is it too late to plan to continue calling tomorrow?

Wake Up said...

Long posts reflecting on the nature of zen, etc. and how best to use Tassajara post-fire are outrageously inappropriate for this blog at this time.

Keep the space open for updates and for communications regarding specifics.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to anon for clarifying his/her post re guests vs residents. We are all anxiously waiting for news, preferably good news that all are well and the center is safe.

Anonymous said...

To wake up: Blogging and then posting comments means that people can write whatever they want. In this case, since none of us are present at Tassajara, we can only say what is in our heads and our hearts. The comments have been quite informative overall, and discussing the role of Tassajara is not inappropriate, IMO.

Alison said...

I, too, have great faith in the clarity of mind and action of the five who have remained at Tassajara and I respect each of them deeply.

I just phoned Boxer and Feinstein's office. Seems that Boxer's office was much more clear about the specificity of Tassajara's situation and her staffer indicated that direct contact has been made with Senator Feinstein and the governor re: additional fire fighting support for Tassajara. Feinstein's office was not quite as clear about what Tassajara even is, and mostly indicated Feinstein's request for emergency funding. So...when calling, I made sure to ask what is being done regarding support for Tassajara TODAY and stressed the timely urgency of immediate water drops, etc. if that is at all possible.

Be well - Alison

Anonymous said...

at the firefighter blog ted has new suggestions to get firefighting help and experience into Tassajara same way that was used in 77. If firefighters are unable to do this - is there a private firefighting crew one could hire to help? if anyone is already organizing this, where can one call with contributions?

Anonymous said...

Alison, i too reached Boxer's office but in Washington today. She seems to be there so maybe continue calling there tomorrow might help getting the message through? I'm looking for someone who can actually suggest to her directly to ask for the additional support and air help / water

Ted said...

gI'd just like to make the point that defending Tassajara safely is extreemly doable. With foil wraps and sprinklers, we're much better prepared than in 77'.I was lucky enough to be there for that effort. There is a great chance of success. I would love to see 10 people rather than 5 and would very much like to see more people with experience. I've been trying to get the forest service to drop off a couple of firefighters,by helicopter, to give guidence, and to lead out any backfiring. We have the tools and 5 great people, but additional experience onboard would facilitate effectiveness and saftey. I would ask your help in lobbying for this specific aid.Would it be possible for someone at Jamesburg to go to fire camp and make this case?Keith or Leslie?
Given all this, I very much feel optimistic about a positve outcome.
I only wish that my health would allow me to be there and make 6, it is way too much fun to be in a fire fight like this.
All the very best.

Anonymous said...

appropriate...all compounded things are bound to disappear. buildings included. so while we can do all that is humanly possible to save a beautiful place such as tassajara, can we also let it go if we cannot save it without attachment? who is it it that can not bear to see it burn, or the thought of it not being there? if it can't be saved we can just rebuild it, nothing of true value can ever be destroyed, intrinsically no compounded thing has value. Things are things, we give them value according to what needs they fulfill for us. but there is a part of us that is always fulfilled and does not require any thing, place, state or whatever to be perfectly content and at ease in whatever situation, so fire is indeed a great practice opportunity to not get carried away by what we think we will lose, but to discover that which can never be lost. and thank you for telling me my thoughts are not appropriate in this forum and reminding me what is. if you don't like it, skip it, or inquire why it upsets you...

catwrangler said...

Thank you Anon at 3:22pm for clarifying. Tassajara means a lot to me. My BF and I have even discussed that if any buildings are burned, we would happily pay as guests to help rebuild them as our vacation.

Anonymous said...

anon: I think that it is a very human trait to find it difficult to let go of material things. Thus, the idea within Buddhism that it is OK, and maybe even desired, (I am not Buddhist)to release these material things is hard for people to grasp and even harder to practice. Part of being human is memory - our memories of events, the place(s) where these events occurred, the people that we met - are all part of our memory.

Anonymous said...

Deep appreciation to those on the front lines protecting Tassajara. May all beings be safe...

I spoke to Monterey Co. EOC just awhile ago and was assured that several engines and crews are working all along the road and that air support is ongoing. They are well aware of Tassajara's plight and are doing all they can to protect this beloved place. Also on the Firefighter Blog someone said to call Rep. Farr's office...he is being very proactive to help get the needed resources for Tassajara. Please call to express appreciation and for ongoing support. The numbers:Salinas office 831-424-2229; Santa Cruz office 831-429-1976; Washington office 202-225-2861.

Anonymous said...

memory is one wall of the prison that our minds build and maintain every day. Another one is imagination. Desire, fear, hope.... all strategies to maintain apparent individuality and a a sense of existence as a seperate self. Strategies to stay trapped in time and space, experiencing life from the perspective of mind dominance. Without these nothing would prevent us from the direct "experience" of who we are. Undefinable, boundless, all pervading. Being awareness bliss....

Chris vLS said...

Interesting that the story about the monk not putting out the fire was told by Steve Stucky . . . one of the five who turned around and went back in to defend the fire.

Yes, we're doing a lot of running around here and there. Anon, I appreciate your question: is it attachment that has us running around? What a good question for us. And a good question for anon: Can you see that perhaps there is one who is not busy?

I was so struck by David Zimmerman's sincerity on one of the interviews. He seemed like someone who is doing what he finds to be appropriate. He didn't seem like someone captured by his preference for one outcome over another. He seemed not busy, even with his house essentially on fire.

As for the discussion of Tassajara economics, it does seem a bit arcane. But I am not objective about that; I am so grateful that a couple of Zen and Yoga retreats has turned into five, and a daily sitting practice, and a valued relationship with a teacher, and many new openings in my life. That said, I will point out that your suggestion for changing the Tassajara format seems premised on the current format offering some barrier to practicing Buddha's way. Even with us full-freight-paying guests around, perhaps the Way is still available right here. Right now.

Thank you to the rest of the readers for putting up with my (our?) expending nervous energy in this way.

Deep bows and heartfelt wishes to all.

Chris vLS said...

Thank you AC for the numbers. I called the Sacramento governor's office. After taking my name, the gentleman on the line was entering the comment on the computer and said "More resources to what area? Tassajara . . . oh there it is!"

So we're on the list. Takes less than two minutes to add to the tally. To quote our friends in public radio . . . call now . . .
(916) 445 2841.

Anonymous said...

Interesting question about where attachment begins in the "running around" and doing what's possible & sensible to preserve Tassajara physically. IMO dharma and surrender are factors too. Someone I knew years ago said that surrender to dharma isn't necessarily letting somebody run over you with a bulldozer. It's accepting that he wants to run over you, and then doing what you can to save yourself.

A deep gassho to all.

Anonymous said...

Jamesburg, it's been more than 2 hours since the last call from Tassajara. Can you update us? The Google maps show fires on every side - any word from inside?

Tony said...

Please update!

Thank you.

Blessings to each of you.

Jane said...

Kathryn, thank you for that great and completely heartening report!

Would you say that people should stop lobbying at this point, and start thanking? Please do advise if that is the case, as we don't want to bother our benefactors unnecessarily. From the evidence of the comments here, people in this extended sangha of practitioners and others who love Tassajara have done a fantastic job of making our representatives aware of what's going on. And presumably that awareness has led to action by now. A barrage of phone calls will do that. Great gratitude for the upwelling.

The five firefighters, I can say with a certain surety from past experience (and so great to see '77 fire marshall Ted Marshall's post here, a few back), are going to be too busy to be making many phone calls out to us for a while. Putting out spot fires is what they have been training to do, these past weeks, and they and Tassajara are ready--as Ted says, far more ready, with the foil-wrapped buildings, than in '77. It is intense, and it is, as Ted says, doable. I too would like to see a few more in there, and hope it happens, somehow, that some professionals arrive--in '77, they walked in from Arroyo Seco after the road was closed by fire. But that was then, this time it will be different no doubt.

Knowing that the airtankers are at work protecting our dear five from the full brunt of incoming flame is great news, and that is how I am choosing to interpret Kathryn's report--optimistically--whether they are dropping water right at Tassajara, or dampening the fires as they approach, this will help enormously. They know there are people at Tassajara, they will protect them. I read on one of the several firefighting web sites that there were airtankers diverted to protect the evacuation yesterday, wetting alongside the road to ensure safe passage. I don't know if this is only a rumor or true, I have to add. It was posted as information having come from some of the on-the-ground firefighters working along Church Creek.

For the other strand in this ongoing conversation, I have often these past two weeks thought of Masahide's little poem: "Barn's burned down, now I can see the moon." A fine and true teaching. Whatever comes, practice welcomes--as Steve was quoted as saying in today's Chronicle article. But the dharma of non-attachment does not, to me, mean non-action. The Bodhisattva works to save all beings, and sitting is a taproot from which many leaves and fruits emerge. Without abandoning that source, they come forth, sometimes as fire, sometimes as water, sometimes as trees that burn, sometimes as trees that stay, sometimes as Steve and David and Graham and Mako and Colin, doing what needs to be done, caring for all beings, including themselves and us. This is what I feel, anyhow. And I love the previous poster's description of David in the tv news interview--just right.

All my thoughts and support turn towards Tassajara, and to all the firefighters in this state and elsewhere, this evening.

may all beings be safe,


Anonymous said...

I just spoke to Timothy Johnson, MoCo EOC, Fire Branch Manager who told me that the fire has now burned through Tassajara and that all 5 staff are safe and all buildings are intact. According to him the fire is no longer a threat to Tassajara since it has gone through the area.

slfisher said...

woo hoo!

Anonymous said...

Let's hope someone from Jamesburg or from City Center can make this official. Until then, I am hopeful, but not certain

Anonymous said...

I know that some are responding with disbelief about the news I reported from Timothy Johnson. I asked him very pertinent questions about the front and various directions from which the fire could pose a further threat. He told me that the front of the fire was now beyond Tassajara and that there was nothing to burn around Tassajara. I asked him if I could quote him and post to the many who are so concerned and use his name and he said yes. And as I stated he is Monterey County Emergency Office Center Fire Branch Manager and is in communication with Incident Command. If this information is inaccurate I apologize but I have no reason to doubt that this is a reliable source. Of course it is prudent to wait for confirmation from ZC and I am hoping and waiting that this will be the case.

Tony said...

It's official.

I have spoken with Jamesburg and they confirmed it.

The fire apparently went "right down the creek". All of the gelled and foil wrapped buildings are intact.

They are essentially out of the worst danger because, now, all the "fuel" for the fire is gone. There are still hotspots.


ac said...

hallelujah indeed, if this is true and the danger has come & gone already! with thanks to everyone supporting this efforts. and a particular thank you to jane for bookending this blog with wise words of dharma & marble cone knowledge. great to hear the experienced voice from the "class of '77".

Dana V said...

Dear Friends--
We will put up a quick post on the ZC site in a few minutes. Everyone is safe, a few small buildings did burn, there is still much work to be done...deep bows to all of you for your support. And deep bows to The Five for saving Tassajara.

Anonymous said...

Jane, we have so appreciated your posts during this anxious day. And others too. Many thanks
Joanne and Walter

Anonymous said...

Thank you Tony for the confirmation...I admit to feeling exonerated! I may have jumped the gun but felt you would all want to know what I had learned and as I said I would not have reported it had it not come from a reliable source.

I just received an email that quotes Jessamyn as saying that the birdhouse, pool bathrooms and compost shed burned. If that is so, then it is not too bad considering what could have been. I'm sure we are all breathing a deep, deep, sigh of relief that the worst has passed.

deepest gratitude for the innumerable labors that has brought us through...

may all beings still in the path of the fire here and of those burning elsewhere be safe...

Tim said...

An update has been posted on the site.

Suki said...

Some days ago, links were posted where we could send emails requesting support and protection for Tassajara. It felt good to send those emails, but now that the situation is more urgent maybe someone could post a telephone lobbying list. It would give us something constructive to do.

Anonymous said...

It's monstrously irresponsible for the Abbots to allow students to return to Tassajara under these circumstances. What could they be thinking? Tassajara should be closed.

If my dear friends are killed in this fire, the Abbots and the Zen Center board will share the responsibility.

Jane said...

I am going to take the liberty of posting an email I just received from Gene DeSmidt here... like others, my heart leapt at Kathryn's original report but part of me asked, could it really all be over so quickly? did everything that could pose a danger actually burn? The answer appears to be yes, yes it did, as Kathryn's more recent post also makes clear.

They will still need to watch for the infamous rolling burning yucca root balls, and other potential downhill rolling material. The hills are steep, and when things burn, they burn for a long time, or did in '77. But the hard part is done! What happens now is staying awake to make sure that no further flaring hot spot or rolling down ember ignites anything new.

I am weeping with joy right now. You can't hear it, but I am.

Here is Gene's email, subject line, BREATHE OUT:

IT IS 5:30 PM ON THURSDAY (7/10)















And now, Jane speaking again for myself, while it's lovely to know my words have been helpful, no need to say so. If my posts have been of service to this sangha, it is only the smallest return for what I have received. It is time to cheer--and to still figure out how to get some reinforcements in as soon as possible so our five can get some rest... the root balls patrol and hot spot watch is a 24 hour job.

Dave R. said...

What joy! What gratitude . . .

And deep bows to everyone who has done so much to pass along the current information in this quickly changing situation.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Anonymous said...

Please note that one of the "boys" is a woman -- Mako.

Kensho said...

Hi, I spoke with the designated staffer at Sen Feinstein's SF office today. She was so very sympathetic and supportive... subdued my personal issues of Sen. Feinstein confirmation for Gates/Roberts FISA renewal etc....for those who are engaged politically, you may decode my statement.

IMHO, Feinstein is more conservative than SF, but does a reasonably good job. She and her husband did attend some RBR events, so from what I understand, she is very aware of Tassajara, as is her staff.

Her office staff is on it. Ms. Sharin is the point staff person. They are very familiar with the issue of saving Tassajara, and heartfelt.

What Sen. Feinstein can do in her realm of action, from what I understand, is to offer a supplemental. We have heard this as an "earmark". If all earmarks were as transparent as this, all us voter-folk would be more sympathetic.

Sen. Feinstein sits on the Senate Appropriation committee.

From what I understand, Sen. Feinstein sent over yesterday 7/9 to the head of the Senate appropriation committee, Sen. Bird a request for shy of 1B USD to aid firefighting in CA. The CAFIRE folks I called said they are nearly out of predesignated funds.

This is a very important moment for us to ask our government to go into debt for a very worthy cause.

Sen. Bird is 89-90 years old so his staff is the most appropriate leverage point. There are some 25 Senators, many with major Buddhist groups in their states, who are on the Senate appropriation committee.

I'd like to send feelers to a couple activist/practitioners who would like to gather some grassroot input to these Senators this weekend through Tuesday. I believe it will be "calendarized" if there is enough input to Senate offices.

Kensho, aka Judith Gilbert

Steven Harper said...

With just having the fire pass us here in Big Sur (I chose to stay in a mandatory evacuation). I wish to "forward" on all the prayers and well wishes that I received for my saftey to my friends that chose to stay at Tassajara.
May they be safe in every way. May the fire pass around Tassajara and leave it and those there unharmed. May all beings be happy, peaceful, and free of suffering.

Suzanne said...

I'm pretty positive that I am glowing right now. I am so happy, my face aches from smiling. Just did a celebratory happy dance with my 4 yr old Lily. Woohoo!! Hugs to all, Suzanne from Phoenix

Paul Hoffman said...

I don't know what Tassajara will be like without that composting shed. I hope to find out.

ac said...

anon @6:37, who said anything about letting students back into Tassajara? the five who are there are senior dharma practitioners (including the abbot, no less) who stayed of their own accord. i, like many others, would have been down there in a heartbeat to defend the monastery if we were allowed. but the main point is that the road won't be reopened until the fire officials in charge of the area deem it safe for residents to return; those decisions are their domain, not zen center's. if the five had not stayed, seems pretty clear the spot fires would have consumed most of the valley. that they managed to defend a limited onslaught of fires (thanks, I'm sure, to air support that we've not yet heard about) shows that great thought was given to preparation and safety in this matter. nothing was done recklessly.

Anonymous said...

Deepest gratitude
from my heart. Profound relief
in my bones tonight.

Kensho said...

So, as Suki requested...

The fire fighting effort in California is now in debt, not only at the California level, but also in federal funding.

What Sen. Feinstein could do most effectively. she already did do yesterday. She sent a supplemental to the Senate appropriation committee. A "supplemental" to a bill her staffer could not find the number to. What it is, is an infamous earmark. Sometimes earmarks are attrocious. In this case, it is exactly what the descretion to request funding for local project should be.

At this point all I understand is a supplemental, and the Senate appropriate committee will only vote it on Tuesday. I could not get the SB number but will post it soon.

I wish there were a "phone/email" Buddhist group action tree already set up, but perhaps the 08Tassajara fire will allow us to create such a thing.

Of course I asked ZC to send out this message, given its useful mailing list, and a ZC person said another person would call me back. That person did not yet call me back.

In that event, since I don't work for ZC at the moment (:-), I'm bucking protocol and sending out this request directly to the community on this blog.

There will be other leverage points that will be obvious to others. I thought this is a way to have those of us who are just looking for a way to quickly make a difference might contribute.

As I have lobbied often and continuously at both the state and federal level, I think getting the money to get the firefighters to TZMC is a great way for us outside Tassajara to help.

Here is the "$" way to involve all of us who love TZMC (including my notes of who I'll be trying to call to mobilize a contingent in that Senators jurisdiction:

ROBERT C. BYRD – WV – Pat Phelan's group?

DANIEL K. INOUYE – Hawaii - any Diamond Sangha members who could bring influence to bear?

PATRICK J. LEAHY – Thich Nhat Hanh followers - ?

TOM HARKIN – IOWA Katagiri ?


HERB KOHL - Wisconsin - Cloud Water Sangha and the Goenka group?

PATTY MURRAY – Kienan and Jack - others in WA?

BYRON DORGAN – Layla – do you know any ND?

DIANNE FEINSTEIN – SFZC and any other Buddhists in the Bay Area – she put in the earmark - kudos.

RICHARD J. DURBIN – Jack Lawlor, Taigen

TIM JOHNSON – Layla – do you know any SD?

MARY L. LANDRIEU – Louisana?

JACK REED – Rhode Island?

FRANK R. LAUTENBERG – Any practitioners NJ – NYC?

Kensho Jisen
Judith Gilbert

Anonymous said...

>>> ROBERT C. BYRD – WV – Pat Phelan's group?

Taitaku Pat Phelan is the abbess of the Chapel Hill Zen Center in North Carolina, and supports a remote sangha in Virginia, but not West Virginia.

Dharmaweb and others list:

Morgantown Zen Group
429 Warrick Street, Morgantown, WV 26505
Contact: Jon Reed or Rodger Dotson
Tel: (304) 291-5936 / 594-1864
Web site:
Tradition: Seon (Korean Zen)
Spiritual Director: P'ahok Jon Reed
Teachers: P'ahok Jon Reed / Bhaddaka Rodger Dotson

Anonymous said...

I am curious to hear whether it was worth it for the five to remain. They will say it was, but I think it would be worth objectively evaluating post-fire, so that in future fires there is not a precedent (and praise) of 'heroism' over 'safety.'

ac said...

from what has been said of the situation, i don't detect any sense that heroism and safety were in opposition here. it is in fact quite possible for these things to run in tandem.

Anonymous said...

so the plan is to lobby for more buddha bucks to replace lost profits cause the insurance will cover the minor damage done by a couple of out buildings being burnt

why not just open a fall visitor season to replace the lost cash register days and leave the aid dollars for the homeless, the indigent and the uninsured

naw.. line up, get yer phone calls in to see if u can snag some bucks

the prep school must be subsidized by tax dollars... thats what suzuki roshi had always imagined