Yokoji-Zen Mountain Center is a Zen Buddhist Training Center located in the beautiful wilderness of the San Jacinto Mountains of Southern California.
Founded in 1982 by Taizan Maezumi Roshi, one of the pioneers of American Zen, Yokoji started life as a summer training center for the Zen Center of Los Angeles. Since 1995, Yokoji has been functioning as a year-round Zen Training Center for residents and non-residents under the direction of the abbot, Tenshin Fletcher Roshi.
Yokoji-Zen Mountain Center is one of the most respected Zen Training Centers in the Western world, regarded so by Japanese and Western teachers alike. Our doors are open to people from all spiritual traditions and walks of life who would like to directly experience, and gain insight into, their true nature. We offer a regular daily practice schedule, introductory courses, silent meditation retreats (sesshin) ranging from 2 to 7 days, and two intensive training periods a year. Since the early 1980s, many of Maezumi Roshi's Dharma successors (those given permission to teach) trained here, including Genpo Roshi, Charlotte Joko Beck and the current abbot, Tenshin Roshi.
We are a Soto Zen Buddhist temple. There are two main schools of Zen Buddhism flourishing today, Soto and Rinzai, both of which gained their names from the Chinese masters who founded the schools. Masters (So)zan and (To)zan are credited with co-founding the Soto School and Master Rinzai gave his name to the Rinzai school. Yokoji is also a part of the White Plum Asanga, an umbrella organization for Dharma successors of Maezumi Roshi. Maezumi Roshi trained and received Dharma Transmission from both Rinzai and Soto teachers in Japan and used aspects from both schools in his teachings. At Yokoji, Tenshin Roshi continues to blend the two traditions, using both koan study and Shikantaza (literally ¨just sit hit mind¨) practice with his students.
Ecological considerations informed the way that Yokoji developed over the years. Living in harmony with the land was not only a nice idea, but a necessary reality for living in this mountain wilderness. Our water is drawn from two onsite wells, which are gravity fed into tanks. Turn on any faucet at the Center and you will have natural, stone-filtered mineral water on demand. We are an off-grid community, drawing power primarily from solar panels (our name, Yokoji, actually means sunlight temple) and wind turbines. This life style permits us to live in a way that is totally dependant upon our environment. If there is not enough snow and rain in the year, we may be low on water. If there there is too much cloud coverage, we may be low on power. The environment literally shapes the way we run the Center on a day-to-day basis. The valley in which the Zen Center lies is a great teacher to us, all year round.
Yokoji is located on 160 acres of wilderness. We live and work on about 40 of those acres, which we aim to keep clear of brush and over-crowded trees in order to reduce fire risk. The rest of our land is uncultivated, and it borders with National Forest, so there is a real sense of being immersed in nature. A short hike to the top of the ridge above the valley yields spectacular views of the desert and Salton Sea below, and looking back towards our valley, of Apple Canyon and Lake Hemet. The ridge is actually part of the Pacific Crest Trail, which runs from Mexico to Canada, and many hikers pass through to access the trail at this particularly beautiful section.