|This 110ft high ponderosa pine marks the location for seclusion practice. At Cold Springs, on the back of the mountain, away from the monastery, undisturbed by humans, without electronics or cell phone, no reading materials, the only media is a few Japanese sutra books. The annual seclusion for five days includes prayers & mantras, fasting and meditation, and immersion in Nature. For me, this yearly seclusion is absolutely necessary.|
|This shrine has remained undisturbed at the top of Cobb Mountain since 1989, 15 years before the monastery land was purchased on another site 2200ft lower on the mountain. The shrine was placed at the confluence of two large egg-shaped boulders and intense mantra-prayers were commenced in order that the mountain be opened up for the practice of Dharma, in particular the Dharma of kaihogyo, that is, circling the mountain while continuously reciting mantras, as well as the Dharma of secluded meditation in the midst of Nature. * The Honzon in the shrine is Fudo Myo-O. But since the land is public, I was worried that strangers might stumble upon it, see a wrathful figure with flames and a sword, and think that some kind of devil worship was going on. So I asked the sculptor Lawrence Hill to fashion a "peaceful" Fudo-sama, in the form of Shakyamuni in his ascetic years, and holding a sword-mudra rather than an actual sword. The "Eye-Opening" ceremony was done by the legendary Tendai priest Joshin. So, for 25 years no one has disturbed the shrine, and during that same period, I have become the disciple of the great Master of kaihogyo Enami Kakusho, succeeded by Kayaki Kansho; have completed Shido Kegyo training in Japan for license in goma; have received full ordination at the NY Betsu-in; have bought land on this mountain and gifted it to the monastery; have built a goma-d0 called Hoshu-in which in 2010 was consecrated by priests from the Enryaku-ji on Mt Hiei; and received permission to teach Ajikan meditation. Yet all this amounts to nothing since the work is far from over. And though many many people have visited the monastery, still not one man has yet embraced this happy life of renunciation and striving.|
A photo from the past -- 43 years ago! From left to right: Baba Bert, chief disciple; Yogi Bhajan, a Sikh master; Dr Mishra, at his ashram in SF; and Dr Ajari, my Shugendo teacher for 18 years before entering the Tendai Sect in 1988. Here shown is Dr Ajari telling some outrageous tale, by which some of the listeners are amused, and some definitely NOT AMUSED (note Baba Bert).