Tassajara Zen Center, June 30 - July 2, 2004

  1. The gong in the shadows.

  2. The creek through Tassajara.

  3. The bath houses.

  4. A hut in the forest.

  5. My wonderful tatami room accomodations.

  6. The far corner of my room. I think the over-stylized calligraphy is meant to spell out TAO, or, The Way. You can see a kerosene lamp on the shelf. No electricity at Tassajara. And you know what - you don't miss it. They light the paths at night with kerosene lamps on posts, and it's positively soothing and sweet and quiet.

  7. A straight-on view of my single Japanese futon, and the kerosene lamp just at my head. I used that lamp to read at night. It was very restful. I call this a Japanese futon, since the form and texture of the mattress was Japanese, not Californian. Somehow, Japanese futons are more squooshy and more comfortable. But there is nothing like sleeping on tatami.

  8. A close-up of the ink brush painting in my room, and, the small but fresh vase of flowers.

  9. My cabin - I had the whole cabin to myself. It includes a private toilet and sink, but the showers are down the path at the bath-house.

  10. One view of the Tassajara vegetable garden (which was right next to my cabin.)

  11. Note the kerosene lamps hanging from the posts - this is our light after dark. It works wonderfully and makes me think: we in the developed world should start to do everything we can to reduce our use of energy, whether that's fuel oil, gas, natural gas or electricity. We can do it. We don't need all that electricity, all those lights springing to life when we flick the switch. Do we really want to flick the switch so much we're willing to watch life on this planet slowly go extinct? You'd be amazed how little kerosene is burned in your average lamp that burns for 45 minutes until you snuff the lamp and go to bed ... The time for the energy revolution is now.

  12. The roofed and lamped shelter for the wake-up call ...

  13. The wooden board is pounded, to sound the sound to the community. The board reads: "Wake up! Life is transient. Swiftly passing. Be aware of the great matter. Don't waste time."

  14. Two wicker chairs are poised above the stream, waiting for a couple seeking peace and rest.

  15. The lovely stream that runs through the Tassajara property.

  16. After a half an hour or so of scrambling through the woods and along the rocks, you reach "The Narrows", a clear pool of cold water favored as a swimming hole. Someone built a cairn. This shot is looking back up towards the stream's head, back towards the Tassajara compound.

  17. The sheer cliffs around The Narrows swimming hole.

  18. An attempt at an art shot: a close-up of the dense green forest.

  19. The pool! It is fed by warm natural sulphur hot springs. No chlorine! I believe it is cleaned with salt solutions. At the far end is a very Zen covering.

  20. This is another of my famous art shots. I tried to capture the unusual curves of the plant, as against the Zen cover to the walkway.

  21. The large iron bell (and its neighboring lamp ...)

  22. The dining hall.

  23. The Zendo, or, Buddhist temple.

  24. A shot of the row of guest cabins. Note the handy wheelbarrow used by the Zen students to clean the cabins, or, used by newly arrived visitors to bring their possessions to the cabin.

  25. Lavender surrounds the shrine.

  26. A closer view of the shrine. At this, and at all places where flower vases show up, the flowers are fresh and alive.

  27. The bridge walkway to the bath house, where we go to enjoy the hot natural sulphur hot springs.

  28. The hours are set out clearly. It is generally gender-segregated, except at night from 8:40-10:30 p.m. the men's side is mixed gender. Everyone is nude. No one bats an eye. It is the way to bathe.

  29. The shoe-leaving place. You take off your shoes before entering the bath.

  30. After you take off your shoes, you see the tatami mat and the mild shrine and the signs that indicate: women to the right, men to the left.

  31. A closer view of the bath shrine.

  32. "With all beings / I wash body and mind / Free from dust / Pure and shining / Within and without" This is not just taking a bath, folks. There is something deeper going on, and you'll just have to visit Tassajara to believe me.

  33. The women's bath house. Within, there is a ceramic plunge that has very hot water, which is placed inside the bath house. There are sliding doors that open to the outside. Then, there is a pool outside, completely in the open, ringed by granite rocks. There is also a steam room, which is supplied by hot steam purely from the hot springs. Nearby the cool brook rattles by. Brave souls go down to the stream and duck into the cold water, as a cold plunge.

Marianne Mueller
Last modified: July 5, 2004