Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Fear and burning

"The buildings can burn, but you can't actually burn down Tassajara. Fire can never touch Tassajara's heart."
Devin's words (taken from the LA Times article) ring true to me. Here's part of the reason why.

Lots of people like the Tassajara zendo and would hate to see it in ashes. Yet, this is a building which owes its life to a fire. A temporary replacement for the zendo which was destroyed by a local fire the year after Zen Center students fought hard to defend the monastery against the Marble Cone fire.

While we sit with the possibility of the fire reaching Tassajara we are playing with the idea of how we could take our cue from the seeds that need fire to open and use this fire to renew ourselves, our community and our places?


mcbean said...

So strange to imagine the buildings at Tassajara on fire, but if it happens things will still be okay. I like what you are trying to learn from the seeds.

Anonymous said...

Local officials are telling me that the fire should by next year produce the most beautiful burst of new foliage in decades. Out of destruction comes new life.

As for the Zen center, my bet is that the monks win over the flames.

pendoodles said...

We must have Caos before Rebirth, but my heart in breaking in two. I remember well what the Marble Cone fires did to our wonderful Ventana Wilderness, but to see it twice in my lifetime is mind-blowing. I pray for the Tassajara Zen center and all the people there, as well as many of my friends located all along the Big Sur coast. Sincerely, Pennie Hernandez

Mad said...

I hope the beautiful art, giant gongs and bells, han and statues have been removed, esp. if it is left to burn. They would be hard to replace, although deck boards worn smooth by a generation of bare feet can't exactly be faked or made anew ... I'd miss the kaisando most but Suzuki Roshi's rock work should survive, no?

Thanks again for giving your far flung sangha all this information.

Txacoli said...

Thanks for letting us know what is happening. People are more worried about Tassajara than almost any other aspect of the fire. Your perspective is comforting.

My selfish consolation is that, according to the hand crews....a lot of what is burning is poison oak...

Our thoughts are with you,

Mike and Brendan (aka Poison Oak Boy)

Museum said...

I've been coming to Tassajara since 2003, attending Jane Hirshfield's poetry workshops whenever possible and this year, just before the fires, Naomi Shihab Nye's and Paul Haller's magnificent workshop. I became disabled in 2005 with a lung disease and chronic pain--can't travel far or do much, so Tassajara which had been a home for my heart, became a home for my entire being, where I found a life outside my home and a community wherever I looked or walked or ate. Tassajara is my heaven on earth. When you're healthy maybe it's easier to say if it burns that'll be okay. When your world is small and your beloved is in danger, it's not so easy. Not so easy at all. I pray for her survival and wish I could more to help keep her alive.

l.whitson said...

Everyday at work people pass by my cubicle asking if anyone has heard if Tassajara has been spared . . . So many of us Santa Cruz County Mental Health workers have been touched by the restorative powers of Tassajara. Thought you might like to know this. I am encouraged to see these comments and photos. Of course you would be sitting with the possibility that a time of renewal is at hand. Seeds need fire to open. I will take that message to work with me tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Tassasmoeka Dharma Menu
July 2 - 30, 2008
Prepared by: Edward *ESPN* Brown and Serve Suzuki Roshi
Fire roasted chili Rinpoche,
Smoked meditation cushion a la hairless monk fish,
Heated gravy dharmakaya boat,
Singed grouper vajra fillet,
Twice baked and fried dharma wheel corn fritter,
Sautee of crinkled bunk house lamb shank with extra smoke,
Steam evaporated bath house salad,
More-smoke smoked smokey smoke whole wheat half baked smoked bread round,
Lightly charred Atlantic Char,
Incendiary Matchbox Surprise ! (Desert),
Overheated hard crack blackened big easy hinayana popcorn snack,
Flambé of Sutra (optional side of smoke),
Baked potato (duh!),
Running Sangha on fire jubilee (served tableside - optional kerosene with rum float ),
Charcoal flamed broiled Head Abbot's head (optional Baked potato side),
Browned brown rice bowl (smoked - 75 cent extra),
Chogyam's revenge (vodka soaked scorched squirrel sushi) ... Enjoy!

Nellie said...

I have been visiting Tassajara since I was a very small child, mostly as a day guest, and more recently for annual snippets of student practice. Tassajara is the practice place of my heart, and I am deeply grateful for it's mountainous presence.

I wanted to make some offerings:

Thank you to the folks who created and are so consistently updating this blog; it has proved to be tremendously helpful and reassuring with regard to the "sitting with fire" (and fighting fire) process unfolding at Tassajara.

Thank you to the students/residents who have stayed to most literally sit with the fire, prepare the Tassajara Valley for the arrival of the fire, and to safeguard that precious practice place.

Thank you to the displaced students who are meeting, and practicing with, uncertainty, fear, anger, sadness, and helplessness.

Thank you to the fire crews who are working diligently and tirelessly to protect our practice place, as well as the many homes and other structures threatened by this fire.

Thank you to the leaders of SFZC and Tassajara for doing their best to maintain balance meet everyone's needs while responding to a wildly dynamic situation.

Thank you to all Tassajara residents, students, friends, family, and visitors, past present and future, who are sitting with this fire in their own ways.

As an ecologist, I can affirm that the fire is cleansing for this forest, that the plants and trees will be healthier for it, that it is a true expression of the nature of this forest.

Next year new green life will creep in, there will be Lazuli Buntings and Yellow Warblers in abundance, and if the structures of Tassajara somehow burn, our great huge extended family will get together in joy and gratitude and rebuild them.



Amina said...

Just wanted to say that I have never connected to a place more than I've connected to Tassajara. My experience there changed my life and I love it very much. I don't mean to suggest in a light way that it's okay if the buildings burn-- that thought makes me very sad-- it's just that if it does happen we will have to cultivate acceptance of that. Wildfires are natural. And as Nellie says, if we need to, we will rebuild in joy.

Paul Hoffman said...

In telling people about the fire and Tassajara, I have heard two very different responses. Guests who are not zen practitioners worry about the buildings, I think mostly because they want the opportunity to come again. Guests who are zen practitioners focus on the zendo, and the items in the zendo.

If possible, saving the han might be valuable for future generations.

Anonymous said...

could you please give us the map coordinates for Tassajara [to use with goggle.] I can see where the fireline is but am having trouble relating that to Tassajara.

Tim said...

This information can also be found on the web site devoted to Tassajara info as well as daily map updates for those without Google Earth.


catwrangler said...

Is there an update for July 3rd? All the websites are slow to update due to the new fires (and now one in our own backyard). Can't tell from Inciweb what is happening. Just a line or two would be great.

Steven Harper said...

Greeting from the other side of the fire here in Big Sur. Owl and I were supposed to start a retreat there today. I guess we'll have to pick another time. All of Big Sur is under mandatory evacuation, we along with other neighbors have decided to stay. We join you in "sitting with fire"
Love to all,
Steven Harper

Maia said...

Yes, the structures of Tassajara are in danger, but let's not forget that people are in danger too. There are still students down in there who have been working their butts off to prepare the area for this fire.

I hold all of them in my prayers and hope that it is clear when it is time for them to leave, that no one's life is put in danger, and that the travel over the road back to Jamesburg goes smoothly. They are the greatest dharma jewels.

Laura said...

I was just in touch with a friend of mine at NBC to see if I could generate any interest in covering the Tassajara story. He passed word along to the Burbank-based fire coverage teams and they are now looking into doing a story. Hopefully it'll work out. More awareness/more resources. . .

Marianne Jago said...

You're all in my heart

Marianne (all the way over here in Australia)

Anonymous said...

When I read about the Big Sur fire threatening Tassajara in L.A. Times last week I was confident that you would realize the best attitude about the situation. Thank you for sharing your experience with all of us so publicly. I am moved to tears when I read your Reports. Thank you for being such wonderful examples of wise acceptance. It sounds like your fellow firefighters have met the flames Nobly too. I am sure they appreciate working with you and sharing in your positive examples of community spirit. With deep respect from Santa Monica, signed Sincerely.