Every year, as spring blooms, the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center opens its doors to the general public for its annual guest season, which this year takes place from April 28 to Sept. 11. Zen and meditation seekers, yoga lovers, artisan foodies, outdoor adventurists, and people looking to unplug and rejuvenate are invited to experience the serene environment of Tassajara, the most remote and oldest Zen monastery in the U.S., located 25 miles southeast of Big Sur.
Seven months of the year Tassajara is closed to the general public for private intensive Zen practice. For detailed information, visit sfzc.org/tassajara/guest-season.
Nestled in a mountain valley, in a remote part of the Ventana Wilderness, Tassajara has been long known as a place for self-discovery, healing and an escape from the stresses of everyday life. In 1967, Shunryu Suzuki Roshi (founder of San Francisco Zen Center, and author of “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind”) established Tassajara as the first Zen training monastery outside of Japan. Suzuki Roshi searched for a mountain temple similar to the monasteries in Japan and China, and was able to purchase Tassajara through the support of the Zen community, friends and patrons.
Only accessible by four-wheel drive vehicles from a 14-mile dirt road, Tassajara is eco-efficient, garnering 100 percent of its energy from solar panels and the local hot springs.
For the guest season, Tassajara uses its eco-retreat center designed by architect Helen Degenhardt; all retreats will be held in the retreat center.
Visitors are invited to soak in the hot springs, wander along the trails, savor Tassajara’s vegetarian cuisine, participate in zazen (meditation), and enjoy the eclectic retreats offered by its teachers. Guests of Tassajara are encouraged to explore the variety of ways that Zen and complementary practices can inform and enrich one’s life.
The Tassajara Guest Season Program for 2016 offers retreats in the five specialty areas: body and mind; engaging earth; spiritual practice; mindful living; and creative expression. Visitors join renowned teachers in practices they may already be familiar with and some that may be entirely new to them.
Retreats, ranging from two to seven days, usually begin in the late afternoon and end before noon on the last day. Retreat schedules include plenty of free time to engage in meditation, relax in the baths, hike, savor a cup of tea or simply just be.
The retreats scheduled for the 2016 guest season:
Body and Mind Retreats
— Zen and Swimming Dragon Tai Chi (April 28-May 4)
— Daoist Walking Qigong (May 4-8)
— Aligning with Stillness: Embody Freedom and Vitality through Yoga and Zen (May 8-11)
— Energy and Inquiry: The Merging Paths of Zen Yoga (May 12-15)
— Embody Peace, Embody Wisdom: Prajna Yoga and Zen Meditation (May 24-29)
— Loving the Mountains: The Zen of Hiking and Yoga in the Majestic Tassajara Mountains (May 31-June 3)
— Enter the Dharma Gate of Repose and Bliss: A Zen Meditation and Yoga Therapeutics Retreat (June 3-6)
— Communion: The Art of Yoga and Zen (June 6-9)
— Reconnecting with the Flow of Life: A Yoga and Zen Retreat (June 13-16)
— Nature: Yoga Practice for Our Miraculous Life (June 16-19)
— Embodied Awakening: Exploring the Ancient Traditions of Yoga and Zen (June 24-29)
— The Healing Power of Stillness: Restorative Yoga and Zen (July 7-10)
— Vital Body — Beginner’s Mind: A Zen and Vinyasa Yoga Retreat (July 7-10)
— Balanced and Awake: Zen and Yoga to Harmonize Mind and Body (July 14-17)
— Joyful Ease: Your Own True Body (July 17-22; Aug. 7-12)
— Turning the Light Inward: Sitting and Settling with Yoga and Zen (July 22-24)
— Satori, Salutations and Solstice: Opening to the Heart of Zen and Yoga (July 29-Aug. 2)
— The Healing Power of Stillness: Restorative Yoga and Zen (Aug. 2-7)
— Long Spine, Spacious Mind: The Cultivation of Yoga and Zen (Aug. 12-14)
— Yoga Zen Healing (Aug.15-18)
— True Body, True Self: Radical Presence through Zen and Yoga (Aug. 19-22)
— Being Grace — Finding Effortlessness in All Things: A Yoga and Zen Meditation Retreat (Aug. 25-28)
— Bringing Yoga and Zen Home: Creating and Sustaining a Home Practice (Aug. 29-Sept. 1)
— Manifesting the Wisdom of the Body: A Zen Mind, Yoga Body Retreat (Sept. 1-5)
— The Mind and Body Practice in Zen and Yoga (Sept. 8-11)
Engaging Earth Retreats (Nature, Wildflowers, Culinary Arts)
— The Nature of Zen (April 28-May 1)
— Wildflowers and Birds of Tassajara (May 5-8)
— Timeless Spring: Cooking and Gardening in the Heart of Tassajara (May 22-24)
— The Zen of Baking (June 16-19)
— Zen in the Kitchen (June 19-22)
Spiritual Practice Retreats (Buddhism, Wisdom, Interfaith)
— The Spirit of Practice: Christian and Zen (June 30-July 7)
— Presenting Suzuki Roshi’s Teachings (July 22-24)
— Imagination: The Bodhisattva Path for Our Time (July 29-31)
— About Nothing: Buddhist and Jewish Conceptions of Ultimate Truth (July 31-Aug. 5)
— Dogen’s Circle of the Way: Giving Expression and Movement to Meditation (August 14-19)
— Mindful Living Retreats (Visioning, Leadership, Change, Well-Being); Finding Equanimity in a Difficult Profession: A Retreat for Lawyers (May 11-15)
— Healing Our Hungry Ghosts: Compassion Starts Here (May 23-26)
— Big Mind, Kind Mind, Joyful Mind: Cultivating Bodhisattva Leadership (June 6-9)
— Writing through the Dark: A Workshop on Words and Silences (June 9-12)
— Know Yourself, Forget Yourself: The Mindful Leader (July 14-17)
— Embracing Change: Zen and the Art of Creating a Life You Want (Aug. 5-7)
— Down to the BONE! (Aug. 8-11)
— Unplug and Recharge: Living Mindfully in the Digital Age (Aug. 12-14)
— Arriving at the Further Shore: Cherishing Our Journeys of Resilience and Transformation (Sept. 8-11)
Creative Expression Retreats (Visual Arts, Poetry, Music)
— Wild Heart Writing: Allowing the Creative through Zen (May 1-5)
— Words Under the Words (May 29-June 3)
— Learning to Sit, Learning to Draw, Learning to See (June 12-16)
— Brush Mind (June 19-24)
— The Craft of Pure Sound: Making and Playing Shakuhachi (June 23-26)
— The Writer’s Journey: Crafting Personal Stories that Are Vivid, Compelling and True (Aug. 22-25)
Additional information can be found at sfzc.org/tassajara.