Yokoji-Zen Mountain Center

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The Next Day

September 06, 2013 by Yugen

Jim Lakey Rev. Jim Yugen Lakey
Yokoji Zen Mountain Center

The Next Day

The car pictured yesterday, now completely submerged in the mud.

Yesterday was bad, but today was almost unbelievable. My 4WD truck was the only vehicle we could get up the road. The road is barely even recognizable as a road at this point, with channels many feet deep criss-crossing it at various points and many parts totally washed out exposing culverts and previously buried phone wires.

Today we didn't try and dig out buildings or add drainage ditches. It is now beyond that point. Everything we did yesterday was wiped out during the storm in the afternoon. The office now has mud coming up to it. The entire plane from the buddha hall to the office is many feet of mud and rock—all distinguishing features have been wiped out or covered.

We got our GMC snow plow running which alongside my truck we filled with as much as we could. We took the statues and instruments from the meditation halls, office files and computers, tools and some personal items. We did a few runs, dropping the rescued objects off at our neighbors parking lot where we filled all the cars that the various residents arrived in.

Caltrans were working on clearing all the debris on Apple Canyon Road, and were also working on unblocking one of the main culverts which moves water from the one side to the other which was completely full of debris. A crew with a lot of heavy machinery were still working on the culvert as we evacuated around 1pm. Some chunks of the paved road had washed away. Only parts on the edge, but it looks possible that Apple Canyon Road itself might be washed out some point this week.

We are going to meet tomorrow morning at the foot of Apple Canyon Road again and see if we are able to get up. If so, we'll continue to pull out what we can. There is a good chance that buildings and contents will be lost by the end of the storms, which are still predicted as far as the forecast goes, to next Friday. The pictures I am posting give a sense of the damage, but they can't really take in the magnitude of what has been lost. The canyon is in the process of reclaiming our grounds, and by the time it is done, it is impossible to say if there will be much left. If the levels rise as they have over the past few days, it doesn't look good.

It seems we're beyond volunteers coming in to help out, beyond digging out the center. Right now our immediate concern is how to continue in some shape or other and to protect the core of the sangha. We hope in some shape or form, Yokoji will reseed, although almost certainly in a new incarnation. We have already asked, and you have already given, but more than anything else we need financial support right now. Our insurance does not cover debris flow (virtually no carrier is willing to take the risk) and the loan we were hoping to take out from the federally funded SBA (Small Business Administration) looks less likely as our collateral for the loan is rapidly sinking into the ground.

If you can give more, or have any thoughts as to how we can go forward from this point, financially speaking, then please help.

Tenshin Roshi assessing the damage this morning Tenshin Roshi assessing the damage this morning

The mud level now totally covering the deflection wall we had built The mud level now totally covering the deflection wall we had built

The mud is now up to the office, despite all our defences The mud is now up to the office, despite all our defences

What used to be the trash and recycling area What used to be the trash and recycling area

The ground holding the bell is starting to subside as the stream bed widens The ground holding the bell is starting to subside as the stream bed widens


  • Debra Shiin Coffey:

    06 Sep 2013 19:07:33

    I will send some money. I hope it helps. It looks like Roshis rock garden is still in tact. This makes me feel good.

  • charis:

    06 Sep 2013 19:58:59

    mountains are walking. some are underfoot. many blessings.

  • Christopher Lambert:

    06 Sep 2013 21:46:09

    I’m not a zen guy, but you guys are peaceful people, I will share my advice.

    It’s not my intent to be rude, but gravity will always win. You are at the bottom of a canyon. Just like the grand canyon, or mulhulland canyon or any of the SoCal canyons. Flash floods will flush out anything in the path.

    You need to relocate uphill.

    You need to become a highlander.

    In the end, there can only be one… outcome.

    Good luck

  • Jeremy Jokan Stuart:

    06 Sep 2013 21:54:15

    So sad to hear this. I sincerely hope that long term, the center will be able to recover at some point.

  • Dale:

    06 Sep 2013 23:46:27

    This too shall pass. I know that the love and the peace that Yokoji has put out into the world will return multiplied!

  • Eric:

    07 Sep 2013 00:55:08

    Tennshin, please know that you have touched untold lives of people you have never met, myself included. The sangha you have built lives on as long as I draw breath and as long as so many of us who have been touched by your teaching and your example live on. I have neither the money to help nor the physical strength that I once had to come and help. Had I either, they’d be flowing freely towards you. I have never been there, but I love Yokoji deeply.

  • David Dae An Rynick:

    07 Sep 2013 03:59:42

    Such a tragedy. I am glad you are all safe, but mourn with you the loss of so much of your beautiful facility. Here at Boundless Way Temple in Worcester, MA, we will be chanting for you and holding you all in our hearts.
    Many blessings.

  • Doetsu:

    07 Sep 2013 05:52:16

    “Any real change implies the break up of the world, as one has always known it, the loss of all that gave one identity, the end of safety. And at such a moment, unable to see and not daring to imagine what the future will now bring forth, one clings to what one knew, or thought one knew: to what one possessed or dreamed that one possessed.

    “Yet it is only when man is able, without bitterness or self-pity, to surrender a dream he has long cherished, or a privilege he has long possessed, that he is set free – that he has set himself free – for higher dreams, for greater privileges.”

    - James Baldwin

  • Alston:

    07 Sep 2013 07:24:56

    (1) #%$*. (2) whose car is that? i hope the insurance covers it. (3) is there flow down onto the back side of the buddha hall/kitchen complex? or is that slope intact?

  • Yugen:

    07 Sep 2013 07:47:03

    Alston—the car belongs to James (remember him?) and we didn’t have the keys to it to move it and he dropped out of touch about a year ago. The insurance won’t cover it and I doubt he has any. There is flow down the backside of the Buddha Hall and water started to get in to the buddha hall and study hall. Not too much as of yesterday, though.

  • Joe Gallagher:

    07 Sep 2013 07:52:39

    So very sorry to hear of all of this. My best wishes and prayers go out to you.

  • Ando:

    07 Sep 2013 07:54:22

    Will send a donation today.

  • Gojitsu:

    07 Sep 2013 08:30:45

    Dearest Tenshin,

    I’m searching for words to comfort you and your Sangha but they aren’t coming. I pray that you can recreate your Sangha in a new setting as it would be shameful for the Sangha to lose the mighty Dharma you have professed over the years.

  • Alston:

    07 Sep 2013 08:40:13

    thnx. did the solar array and the batteries get taken out? and how is the abbot’s residence? and just for nostalgia at this point: is cabin 1 still standing?

  • Wendy Egyoku Nakao:

    07 Sep 2013 08:51:14

    I share your grief and sorrow as the mountain reclaims itself. Deep bows to Tenshin Roshi and all of you. Prajna paramita!

  • Bill Butler:

    07 Sep 2013 09:18:02

    I thank Doetsu for the reminder from James Baldwin that pain and loss are all around me even when I instinctively and habitually nourish my ignorance. And for the reminder of the great gift of Baldwin to transform his deep suffering into beauty.

    Jim, thanks do much for the updates. and to all who are working so hard. I feel less alone for your efforts.

  • Jiden Lynne:

    07 Sep 2013 11:52:11

    How hard to witness such a loss. Yet Yokoji is the spirit of its students and teachers — not just the buidings. I hope you will rebuild in a safer place and conitnue to spread the Buddha Dharma,

  • Mark Rice:

    07 Sep 2013 12:43:53

    How painful… I often contemplate Tenshin’s dharma talk where he shared that we are sitting for the world, and it is so helpful to know that you and yours are up sitting for us. I’m now a master gardener who is part of the Permaculture community in LA. When it is time to rebuild I can probably get a crew together to come examine the canyon, figure out how to store and slow water, and help you become the highlander you will have to be. All things must pass, but places like Yokoji must come again. Peace,

  • Scott Kyozen Hagen:

    07 Sep 2013 12:56:11

    How completely devastating. I’m available to help whenever and wherever needed. Thanks for the updates, Yugen.

  • Robyn Winks:

    07 Sep 2013 13:41:47

    Tenshin Roshi and residents: My heart goes out to all of you who have temporarily lost your home and place to practice. Yokoji Zen Mountain Center has very deep roots and has impacted the lives of many who are now spread out across the globe. As a member of this broader (very grateful) community, I would like to invite to you to utilize a meditation space in Idyllwild that can accommodate 25 to 30 practioners, stocked with zafus, chairs, sink room, closet and a traditional Buddhist altar. This is obviously a temporary solution for your sangha, but we would be deeply honored if we could give back in this small way. I’d be happy to give you a key and a schedule of when the space is available for however long you’d like to use it. Please email me at robynwinks@verizon.net. In Deep Gassho, Robyn Winks.

  • Carol Plumer:

    07 Sep 2013 15:57:20

    I am confident you will survive, thrive, and renew. An experience like this shakes things up to produce new green leaves

  • Barbara Stecker:

    07 Sep 2013 16:43:47

    I donated through Penpal. I wish you the best. I’ve enjoyed several meditation retreats there although they were with Pierre Grimes and not strictly speaking zen sesshins. I thank you for that though.

  • jim wysocki:

    07 Sep 2013 17:32:14

    I am heartbroken at the devastation. I have such fond memories of all of my visits to ZMC, as well as the wonderful people – Tenshin especially. My thoughts are with you and, when I can, my financial support as well. I have faith that while the grounds my change, Yokoji and the Sangha will emerge stronger then ever.

  • Shingetsu:

    08 Sep 2013 10:49:43

    Tears flowing! The Valley Sangha will be sending another donation – with deep bows to all of you who have tended this precious site these many years.

  • Betty Jiei Cole:

    08 Sep 2013 12:37:41

    Yikes! What a scene, even from a distance. I hesitate to give advice, but what comes to mind is Tenshin’s talk about the rokusu as a symbol of fields, some planted, some laying fallow until the next season; it may be time to do the minimum to protect what can be protected at Yokoji, to wait until the time comes to see what is re-seeding and covering the ground, to see where water flows and not build there again, and meantime practice nearby.
    I think that if you put out a description of what good money could do at this point, broadcast wide and far to the sangha and mailing lists and sister organizations, you might be heartened at how much money would come to your aid. Without that, I will send money anyway, just for the memories and in gratitude to buck you up as best i can.

  • Baxbarnowl:

    08 Sep 2013 15:34:29

    Heaven and earth are not kind. They regard all things as offerings.

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