Yokoji-Zen Mountain Center



  • Just As It Is

    Another question I’ve been asked is, “When did you start practicing Zen?” Again, I’m not really sure how to answer that. Do I date it from the time when I started reading books about Zen Buddhism and intellectually embraced the philosophy? When I started to sit in meditation and first tried to “think not-thinking?” How about when I began sitting with other people and started going through the motions? Or when I found my teacher? My first training period? Jukai? I really can’t tell you the exact date when I started to feel it in my bones and not simply think it in my brain. Is the question, “When will you stop practicing Zen?” any easier? When I die? Maybe! Again, there isn’t a clear beginning or end to this, as far as I can tell.

  • News & Events | June 2019

    With plentiful rainfall over the last few months Apple Canyon is flourishing. There are bright signs of life all around. As we go about our daily schedule immersion in residential life lends itself to a real appreciation of the natural rhythms of the valley. As the cherry blossoms bloom and fall to the ground, flowering hillsides give way to a sea of tall grass rippling in the wind. The ever-present shifting of the days and seasons mirrors the nature of our training. At this time of year we embrace a necessary shift in momentum— as Spring Training Period opens into Summer Interim Period and guest season comes to a close, our emphasis becomes the essential, daily work of maintaining the buildings and grounds.

  • Spring Fundraiser | 2019

    Once built, temples and training centers require constant maintenance. Protecting this place of practice is our shared responsibility. The Kubota tractor has been a true servant and hero for Yokoji. Originally purchased in 1986, the tractor has been in almost constant use, particularly through the fires, storms, and floods of these recent challenging years. After more than 3 decades of labor and major repairs, this vital piece of equipment is finally at the end of its useful life.

  • It’s All Zazen

    At first, when the rain began to fall, it didn’t look like much. It started on Wednesday afternoon, February 13th and continued throughout the following day, by which time the rain was falling at a rate of one inch per hour. When it finally stopped, nearly half the annual rainfall of San Francisco had fallen on Yokoji in just 36 hours. Even more rain fell at higher elevations. The National Weather Service would later call the storm “historic.” Residents of Mountain Center, Idyllwild, and Pine Cove were ordered off the roads and told to shelter in place as entire sections of Highway 74 to Hemet and Highway 243 to Banning were destroyed and washed away. At Yokoji we had little choice but to remain at the Center as our own road was so severely damaged that not even the tractor could pass.

  • Destroyed or Not Destroyed: How Will We Answer?

    There is an old Zen koan that seems particularly relevant today: Daizui’s Kalpa Fire. In this koan, a monk asks his teacher, Daizui, “In the raging of kalpa fire, chiliocosms (10,000 universes) are together destroyed. I wonder if this is destroyed or not destroyed?” Daizui responds, “Destroyed.” The monk continues, “If so, does everything go with it?” Daizui answers, “Everything goes with it.” The same monk later asks another teacher, Ryusai, the same question, and Ryusai replies, “Not Destroyed.” When the monk asks, “Why is it not destroyed?” Ryusai replies, “Because it is the same as the chiliocosms.”

  • News & Events | May 2019

    Life at Yokoji has settled into the rhythm of Spring Training Period. Apple Canyon shows welcome signs of emergent spring as winter retreats. The blossoms on the apple tree outside the office are in full bloom, and every morning as residents gather for their morning work practice, the sun crests the eastern mountains and bathes the flowers in brilliant light…..

  • This is Us

    Last month a lone gunman killed 50 people at 2 mosques in Christchurch (our largest city in the South Island). In New Zealand, we have always prided ourselves that these kind of things never happened in our islands—thinking, I suppose, that we had some kind of in-built egalitarian and socialist ethic which would never breed that kind of intolerance. We were wrong…..

  • News & Events | April 2019

    In recent weeks, Apple Canyon has seen the shift of seasons from winter to spring. There are signs of life all around—yellow daffodils are opening and the plum tree is in bloom. This change is quite welcome for all who live here as the winter was especially difficult this year with extensive repair work in the aftermath of the February storms. Throughout the unfolding of recent weather related challenges and the effort involved with meeting each challenge, our practice continues….

  • Storm Repair Update

    The repair effort by Tenshin Roshi, residents and volunteers, continues as we recover from the severe storm damage last month. Encouraging progress, made possible by your generous donations, is being made along several fronts as we repair our access road and grounds, armor essential areas against further erosion, and build preventative measures against future damage….

  • News & Events | March 2019

    This past week saw a welcome change in the weather—clear, sunnier skies and warmer temperatures—a sharp contrast to the unusually severe winter conditions we recently experienced. Many of you are already aware of the devastating storm that Yokoji experienced earlier this month. Since then we have been able to hire a professional work crew to bring in heavy machinery and are encouraged by the steady progress we have made in repairing the storm damage. Tenshin Roshi, along with staff and residents, continue daily repairs and maintenance to the grounds as we work to fortify against erosion, repair water lines, and make the access road passable once again…..

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