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...]