Tassajara, a Zen temple and retreat center in Big Sur that welcomes guests in the summer, will complete the installation of an ingenious roof sprinkler system designed to keep the center safe from wildfires.
The center was in the path of a massive fire in 2008 that burned 162,818 acres of Los Padres National Forest in and around Big Sur.
This new system taps water pumped from the creek that runs along the south side of the remote enclave.
An early, jury-rigged version of the system, affectionately known as “Dharma Rain,” was tested by a contingent of monks and practitioners who stayed at Tassajara to prepare for the approaching Basin Complex Fire. That inferno raged through the center on July 10, 2008.
“Dharma Rain was the single largest factor that saved Tassajara,” director Linda Galijan said.
The story of how a handful of Zen practitioners stayed at Tassajara to protect it from that conflagration is “Fire Monks: Zen Mind Meets Wildfire,” by Colleen Morton Busch, published in 2011.