Tassajara, the Architecture of Silence

A photo essay about a Buddhist monastery in California's Carmel Valley, between hot springs, exceptional food, hard-to-reach peaks, and traditional Japanese architecture.

Welcome to the first installment of my “Photo” essays series.

During a brief zazen practice period in 2023, I had the opportunity to visit the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center. It's a Buddhist monastery founded by Suzuki Shunryu in California's Carmel Valley, renowned for its hot springs, food, hard-to-reach location, and Silicon Valley guests.

The center was open to visitors before the pandemic, with notable local figures like Steve Jobs coming in the 80s and 90s. But access is now mostly restricted to practitioners.

The climate, topography, and vegetation of Carmel felt instantly familiar to me, echoing my Mediterranean roots and upbringing. Even just mentioning Tassajara among former residents evokes reverence. I hope that these photos convey both the reason for that and the mundane aspects of its life.

The carts are among the first to greet you. Even at rest, each one hints at the movement of its daily chores.

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