Are you looking for a place where you can relax and unwind while learning how to have more peace in your daily life? The Tassajara Zen Mountain Center might be what you’re looking for.
There are many ways for you to disconnect from the outside world while you’re there. They have everything from hot spring to hiking trails and much more. And of course, you get to learn more about the astounding tradition of Zen Buddhism while you’re there. But is it really right for you?
Before you start booking your trip, there are a few things you should know. How much does it cost? How do you get there? What activities do they have? And what exactly is the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center?
What Is the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center?
The Tassajara Zen Mountain Center is a Soto Zen monastery located in the Santa Lucia Mountains. It is one of the three practice centers that comprise the San Francisco Zen Center. Along with being the first monastery of its kind to be established in the United States, it’s also the first Zen monastery to be established outside of Asia.
The legendary Zen monk Shunryu Suzuki originally founded the monastery. Shunryu Suzuki is famous for being one of the first people to popularize Zen in the West. His book, “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind,” is considered a classic in Zen literature.
Why Should You Stay Here?
Staying at the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center is an excellent way to escape the pressures of your hectic day to day life. There is no internet or cell phone reception, and there’s only limited electricity. As a result, you can get away from all the noise and distractions you face on an everyday basis.
As you might expect, this is a great place to learn about Zen as well. Zen, of course, is a vibrant tradition that’s been around for hundreds of years. Learning more about it can help you find peace and tranquility in your everyday life. There are daily meditation sessions and guest lectures that will give you firsthand experience with the wonderful tradition.
In addition to this, the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center offers delicious vegetarian meals and a number of fun activities that will help you reconnect with nature. We’ll take a closer look at these in a moment.
What Else Do You Need to Know?
Now you know what the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center is and why it’s a great place to stay. But there are still a few more things you should know. Learning these facts will help you plan your trip more efficiently.
How much does it cost?
Of course, this is one of the most important things you want to know. The Tassajara Zen Mountain Center offers a wide range of different cabins and dormitories for you to stay in. These accommodations are simple and rustic, but exceedingly comfortable at the same time.
Unfortunately, the daily rates can fluctuate quite dramatically depending on the accommodation you choose, how many occupants there are, and whether you stay on a weekday or weekend.
That said, you can generally expect to pay a couple of hundred dollars, at least, to stay at the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center. For more information about rates, you can visit this page.
When is it open to guests?
The Tassajara Zen Mountain Center is only open to guests during the summer months. More specifically, you can visit this monastery anywhere from the end of April until the middle of September. This allows the residents of the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center to serve the community, along with giving students a chance to earn credits toward the practice periods.
The rest of the year is comprised of these practice periods. During these periods of time, experienced practitioners will engage in more intensive Zen practice.
How do you get there?
Unfortunately, visiting Tassajara can be a bit difficult. The first step is getting to Jamesburg, which is located at 39171 Tassajara Road, Carmel Valley, CA. You can get there by following Carmel Valley Road and turning onto Tassajara Road.
That is where things get tricky. Tassajara Road is the only road that leads to the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center. The last 14 miles of this road consists of winding, mountainous dirt road with sheer drop-offs. It can take at least an hour to get there in your vehicle’s lowest gears. If you plan to navigate this road yourself, make sure you have four-wheel drive.
Luckily, Tassajara offers a shuttle, known as the Stage, to get in and out of the monastery. A round trip costs under $100, and it departs from Jamesburg every day at 10:30 am. The Stage is in high demand, so make sure you book your reservation in advance.
Things to Do
Now that we’ve covered the important stuff, let’s take a look at some of the things you can do at the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center. They offer a very wide range of different activities for you to participate in. Here’s some of what you can expect.
Of course, one of the main reasons you probably want to visit the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center is so you can learn the Zen art of meditation known as zazen.
There are numerous reasons to practice meditation, including reduced anxiety, better attention span, and a higher quality of sleep. In this way, you can take the relaxed and tranquil feeling you have at the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center home with you.
Take a dip in the hot springs
The hot springs are one of the main attractions at the Tassajara Zen Mountian Center. Hot springs are known to have numerous benefits, including reduced blood pressure and improved circulation. And of course, it’s one of the best ways to relax and unwind.
The hot springs facilities are in the style of traditional Japanese bathhouses. They are separated into men’s and women’s areas, both of which are clothing optional. The men’s side becomes co-ed in the evening.
Each side comes with communal showers, a steam room, a private bath, and a sundeck. You also get two hot sponges.
Listen to a dharma talk
Once again, this is a fantastic opportunity to learn more about Buddhism and the Zen tradition. By listening to one of the Zen Center’s dharma talks, you can find out what Buddhism’s all about and learn how it can help you in your day to day life. You can listen to a dharma talk every Saturday morning at 10:00 am and most Wednesdays at 7:30 pm.
Additionally, Stone Office Talks give you the opportunity to discuss Zen Buddhism with a senior practitioner. They give these talks on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays at 8:00 pm. You can also listen to previous dharma talks on their website’s archive page.
Grab a bite to eat at Greens Restaurant
During your stay at the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, you’ll be treated to three delicious vegetarian meals a day. However, if you’d really like to get a taste of delicious vegetarian cuisine, you should check out Greens Restaurant. Led by head chef Annie Somerville, Greens Restaurant is widely considered to be one of the top restaurants in America.
They only use the freshest ingredients to create their incredibly inventive dishes. Additionally, they have an excellent selection of wines. And while you’re eating, you can enjoy breathtaking views of the Marina and the Golden Gate Bridge as well.
Go on a hike
Hiking is another popular activity at the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center. This should come as no surprise seeing as they’re located in the Los Padres National Forest.
This can be an excellent way to reconnect with nature during your stay. There are an impressive number of trails to choose from, all with varying levels of difficulty. You can also take a 10-minute walk to visit the Suzuki Roshi Memorial. This is the location of Shunryu Suzuki’s ashes.
Please make sure you take safety precautions before you go hiking. The terrain is very rough and rugged, and the forest is very hot during the summertime. Also, you might encounter dangerous animals such as ticks and rattlesnakes.
Play a game of Bocce ball
Finally, the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center welcomes you to try your hand at a game of bocce ball. Bocce ball can be traced all the way back to the Roman Empire and is a bit like outdoor bowling without the pins. This is a really fun way to try something new and bond with your fellow guests.
You can find the bocce ball court in front of the Pine Rooms. Instructions on how to play the game are available in the office.
A Great Place to Free Your Mind and Disconnect
As you can see, the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center is a truly wonderful place to visit if you need to relax and unwind. You have beautiful hot springs, delicious vegetarian meals, and loads of fun activities. Furthermore, it gives you a chance to escape the frantic, technologically driven world we live in for a little while.
Most importantly, all of this is rooted in the marvelous tradition of Zen Buddhism. If you’re interested in Zen, then the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center is something you absolutely have to check out.
Learning more about Zen and meditation can truly change your life for the better. This way, you can bring those feelings of peace and tranquility with you when you’re ready to return home.