I am very grateful for all the messages of congratulation and support that I have received not just here, but also in person and by email, around the announcement that I will be the next shuso at Tassajara, but I feel the need to clear a few things up.
A shuso's term is for one practice period, and it is my firm intention, as the old saying goes, to be back by Christmas, and to resume living at City Center. During those three months, however, I am not going to be leaving the valley - unless there is an emergency - and I will not be blogging.
When I last lived at Tassajara, I had the strong opinion that practice periods and the internet were entirely antithetical; while I was prevailed upon to write a short piece for the Zen Center website once, I think it was mostly about the weather - I could not reconcile the enveloping intensity of being in the monastic schedule with the many-faceted and transient nature of being online. The focus of our time and attention in the valley is of necessity internal, not just in ourselves, but also within the group of monks, and little of that can be communicated outside in any meaningful way.
Beyond that, we are asked not to bring electronic devices, and I am determined not to take my lap-top with me, assuming I have enough memory cards to store all the photographs I imagine I will be taking. Even if I did, these days it seems to be hard enough even to get a clear phone line out of Tassajara, as it used to be in the old days, and other means of communication are extremely limited. Just as they should be if we are to work hard inside the monastery walls.