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HomeTassajaraZen Practice and Training at Tassajara

Summer Work Practice

April 6-September 26, 2011

Applications will be accepted as of January 1, 2011.

Our summer work practice program provides a wonderful opportunity for living and working within community where Zen meditation is the foundational practice. Our life here is very intense and physically demanding, requiring a high degree of self-discipline and self-motivation while at the same time including many opportunities for studying the self, cultivating dharma relationships with other students and teachers, and practicing in the deeply supportive natural environment.
The duration of summer work practice is flexible. Students can stay for a minimum of five days up to five months. However, if you wish to earn a scholarship (including room, board, and tuition) for a future period of intensive Zen study at one of our three practice centers, you should apply for the Work Practice Apprentice Program, which requires a commitment to Tassajara of 3-5 months during the Summer Guest Season.

The daily schedule includes a one-hour period of zazen (sitting meditation) every morning at 5:50 and a 40-minute period in the evening, beginning at 8:40. There are also two daily services of chanting scriptures and bowing. Work is approximately six hours per day for four days, followed by a day off. All students are asked to make a commitment to completely follow this basic schedule. An additional three periods of optional informal zazen and an optional noon service are available daily. Regular lectures and classes on Buddhism are offered, as well as the opportunity for private meetings with teachers about your meditation and work practice. If you are here for over one month, regular meetings with a practice leader are required.

5:00 a.m. Informal Zazen
5:20 Wake-up Bell
5:50 Zazen (with 5 min. interval)
6:50 Morning Service
7:15 Soji (Temple Cleaning)
7:30 Breakfast
8:30 Work meeting
11:50 Noon Service – optional
11:55 End work
12:00 Lunch
1:00 Work meeting
4:30 End work
4:30-5:45 Silent Student Bath Time
5:00 Informal Zazen
5:50 Evening Service
6:00 Dinner
7:45 Informal Zazen
8:40 Zazen
9:20 Three Refuges
10:30 Firewatch

Our work during the summer focuses on taking care of our summer guests as well as on the general upkeep and maintenance of the monastery. There are many different work areas, including the kitchen, dining room, cabin crew, shop, office, garden, and bathhouse. Please let us know of any relevant work skills as well as of any physical or other restrictions on what kind of work you might do here. We are happy to hear your preferences, but ask that you be flexible in adapting to the needs of the community.

Although Tassajara is open to the public in the summer, fundamentally it is a monastic community and we ask that all participants in the summer work-practice program commit to following our Guidelines for Summer Practice. Students are not permitted to use drugs or alcohol, nor to begin sexual relationships while at Tassajara. In an effort to support this request, clothing should be modest—e.g. no short shorts, exposed midriffs or thin-strapped tank tops, and no tight-fitting or otherwise revealing clothes. The use of tobacco at Tassajara is discouraged.

The book Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki Roshi gives a strong sense of the basis of our practice here. If you haven’t already read it, we recommend that you do so before coming. Other books on Zen practice that you might find of interest can be found on our Introduction to Zen Reading List.

How to Apply
What to Bring

Please refer to the following documents if you are considering residential practice.
Work as Practice
Glossary of Terms