A Q&A with fire monk Mako Voelkel Mako Voelkel. All photos by Melissa Brisko. It’s been nearly a dozen years since Mako Voelkel stood on the Overlook Trail above Tassajara Zen Mountain Center and saw the Basin Complex Fire pouring into the valley. These days, Mako is head teacher at Austin Zen Center. When I caught up with her one recent afternoon on FaceTime, I reminded her that she once told me she just might leave the monastery to go to medical school. Clearly that didn’t happen. “Not yet!” she pointed out, laughing in dappled sunlight in her … [Read more...]
How can you keep your heart open and mind clear during a pandemic?
Near the end of March 2020, ten days into the Bay Area’s shelter-in-place order, I reached out to Fire Monk David Zimmerman to inquire about the parallels between his experience protecting Tassajara Zen Mountain Monastery from a wildfire in 2008 and his current experience, as abiding abbot at San Francisco Zen Center’s City Center, during the coronavirus pandemic. Here is our exchange. May it open your heart, settle your mind, and help you to remember that we’re in this (and every) conflagration together. Tenzen David Zimmerman CMB: Is your experience during the … [Read more...]
Soberanes Fire, August 6, 2016 Update
Please follow my … [Read more...]
West Coast Live Saturday, Jan 19th!
UPDATE: Listen to the broadcast: West Coast Live 19 January 2013. The first few minutes are missing. Sedge started the interview by asking me about the human need to control wildfire and the notion that in Zen, you "let things be." I said that the residents of Tassajara didn't try to control the fire, they guided it, met it, befriended it. Sedge: Those are not USFS firefighting terms. Me: No, they're not, these are Zen monks. Sedge: They don't get into suppression... Me: Or opposition or enmity. Their idea was: Fire belongs here. The forest needs fire. We live here, with … [Read more...]
Back in the Saddle
Snow is just the other face of fire. After a fairly long silence, I've posted a new Huffington Post blog! Become a fan of my blog to encourage me to keep at it and pass the link along to anyone you think might appreciate the bliss of skate skiing. Here are the big-hearted owners of Tahoe Cross Country, where I find that bliss, featured on the cover of the Tahoe Weekly. And here I am in the Great Ski Race 2011, skiing out of the frame past my friend Tove Jensen. … [Read more...]