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Roots of Watercourse Way: Tassajara Zen Center

While Watercourse Way has been a Palo Alto mainstay for nearly 40 years, it’s roots originate about 100 miles south.

“Watercourse Way opened its doors in Palo Alto, Calif., in
1980. Inspired by the natural hot springs of Tassajara, a tranquil zen retreat
in Carmel Valley,” the Watercourse Way website states. The retreat in question
is the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center located in the Ventana Wilderness east of
Big Sur. The Tassajara Zen Mountain Center is part of the San Francisco Zen
Center, which was established in 1962 by Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, a Japanese Zen

Tassajara Zen Mountain Center

“The purpose of Zen Center is to express, make accessible,
and embody the wisdom and compassion of the Buddha,” the San Francisco Zen
Center states on its website. “Today, San Francisco Zen Center is one of the
largest residential training Soto Zen Buddhist organizations outside of Asia.
It has three practice places: Beginner’s Mind Temple, in the vibrant heart of
San Francisco; Green Gulch Farm, whose organic fields meet the ocean in Marin
County; and Tassajara Zen Mountain Center – the first Soto Zen training
monastery on the West coast – located in the Ventana Wilderness inland from Big
Sur. These three complimentary practice centers offer daily meditation, regular
monastic retreats and practice periods, classes, lectures, and workshops.”

Visitors to Watercourse Way can see Tassajara’s unmistakable influence throughout the spa, from the names of the hot tub rooms to the mini Buddha sculptures lining the hallway. To learn more about the San Francisco Zen Center and the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, visit

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165 Channing Avenue
Palo Alto, CA 94301
Phone (650) 462-2000

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