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City and Green Gulch Stories

Tassajara Stories



There are of course more stories throughout this website - especially in people's interviews. Will link to from here as noticed. - dc


1-04-16 - There's a saying never turn your back on the sea. Now and then I read about kids mainly being unexpectedly swept away by a rogue wave on a northern California beach. George Wheelwright who sold/gave the SFZC Green Gulch (for $300,000 as I recall), said that one day he was walking his dog on Muir Beach and a giant wave came in unexpectedly and swept them both out. They both got back in.


5-29-15 - Acquiring the Beginner's Mind Draft


3-26-15 - DC Remembers Serial Killers Around the ZC


2-30-14 - One year memorial comments on Myogen Steve Stucky.


8-05-14 - About thirteen years ago was driving a friend named Judy around Marin and Sonoma. After Green Gulch Farm we dropped by Peter and Wendy's in Muir Beach. My friend said that I'd been introducing her to the Buddhist scene in the North Bay and asked Peter if he had any advice. "Yeah," he said. "Beware of teachers." - DC


David Schneider Green Gulch Memories

Green Gulch First Visit - Barrie Mason remembers

A History of Green Gulch Farm by Mick Sopko

11-08-14 - Learning to Unplug


11-14-14 - Halpern at the Door


12-03-14 - Fat Pants


1-08-15 - Suzuki can't be enlightened


11-08-14 - Learning to Unplug - A Green Gulch Story - In 1973 I was living at Green Gulch and, when I wasn't needed as Richard Baker's jisha, attendant, was working on converting a bull pen into a home where Dianne Goldschlag and soon to come baby and I would move. Ken Sawyer was converting the adjoining bull pen into a home for him, Elizabeth, and their soon to arrive baby. We'd acquired a massive table saw with a 17" blade set in a thick steel plate, a powerful motor beneath. I think it might have come from Michael Sawyer (rip). When the switch was hit, in an instant that motor turned the blade from sitting zero to a high pitch whirring blur of fierce slicing spin. Periodically I'd sharpen a blade on the saw, filing the leading edge of each tooth. To do this the blade had to be held stationary. I'd do that by placing a short piece of scrap wood on the table that the lowest visible tooth would dig into and holding the blade firmly with my left hand. As a standard precaution, all power tools are to be unplugged while working on them. I usually did that, but sometimes I'd forget cause I was distracted or in a hurry. One day I was ripping some 12 by 12 posts into small dimensions to be used in constructing windows. I loved that dark purple old virgin redwood, much denser and stronger than the new growth available at lumberyards. I kept the blade extra sharp for that job and stopped periodically to touch it up, quickly filing each tooth with my right hand with the left holding the blade firmly, not slowing down the process by using the wood piece or by unplugging. I'd just sharpened the blade when Marc Alexander walked into the shop to ask me a question. While I was answering him, suddenly that table saw spontaneously turned on shaking the table with explosive force as the blade burst into its deafening high RPM whine. We jerked our heads to see that inanimate object acting autonomously. I tried to turn it off. The switch was off. Had to unplug it. Marc was perplexed then nodded. "A short," he said. I was ashen, struck with the image of my hand gripping that blade moments before and vowed never again to work on an electric contraption without unplugging it.


11-14-14 - Halpern at the Door - Sometimes it seemed as if how long a person stayed was in inverse proportion to how determined they were when they arrived.

Back in 70 I was visiting the City Center from Tassajara and was hanging out in the entranceway with Bob Halpern who'd been given the task of greeter, a role that didn't exist before or after his stint. I enjoyed watching him relate to those who came to knock on the door. Sometimes I'd marvel at his ability to make someone feel welcome and others I'd cringe at the way he'd toy with people's assumptions. One memory in particular sticks in mind. The doorbell rang. I answered it. A guy with a backpack and beard. "How can I help you," said Bob matter of factly from his chair behind a dark wood table.

The young man stood erect with his heavy back pack still on. He spoke with serious precision and resolve. "I left MIT shortly before finishing work on a PhD in astro-physics. I have hitchhiked from Big Sur where I've been camping for three months in the wilderness, living off the land, contemplating the course my life should take. Now I have arrived at this temple to end my wandering and devote my life to the study and practice of Zen."

Bob looked a him blankly. He tilted his head. "Oh yeah?" he uttered. An empty pause. Then Bob's mouth slowly opened, top iip going one way, bottom one other, his head went back, tongue protruded, slobber dripped out. He started moaning and shaking, gurgling, grunting, head wobbling. His eyes rolled. His arms began making spastic motions. He fell to one side, the chair overturned to the other. He lay on the floor vibrating violently, wild bug eyes open, writhing, flopping about with unintelligible movie monster sounds and frightening jerks. I took the arm of the poor perplexed guy and walked him down the hall. Loring came up the stairs. I asked him to please take our visitor to the courtyard and speak with him. Loring was a sympathetic listener. I went back to find Bob sitting at his desk looking at the morning paper as if nothing had happened. I took the section with the funnies and bridge column and sat in the chair next to him. Never saw that guy again.


12-03-14 - Brian Howlett artist and Zen guy wrote wonder who makes fat pants which the SFZC's then Karin Gjording's Alaya Stitchery used to make - maybe stopped before Karin got it. I think we were making them before Alaya even. Paul Reps turned us on to them and Richard Baker promoted the idea. The were popular in the early days of his abbotship. Here's how to make them!  - I know it's not a story but rather than put it in misc thought this was a bit of ZC history I didn't want buried.


1-08-15 - Not long after I started sitting at Sokoji, I recall a conversation with a long-haired, bead adorned truth seeker on the sidewalk around the corner from Sokoji on Laguna Street. The aroma of patchouli oil. This young guy said Suzuki Roshi can't be enlightened because he shaves his head. I asked why that is. He said that one who is enlightened is beyond thinking, in a constant state of bliss. To shave his head, he pointed out, Suzuki Roshi would have to have the thought of his head and then that there was hair growing there, and that he did now want to have hair there. He'd have to think of cutting it and so forth. He concluded that a truly enlightened person would just continue to bask in the clear light. He said he was more interested in finding a teacher from India. I wished him good luck. - dc