Mysterious Paths: A Summer Weeklong Retreat

With John Tarrant & Friends

July 16-23, 2017
Mt. Madonna Center
Watsonville, CA

This is a meditation retreat for discovering how to navigate in a world with few familiar landmarks; it is seven days along the deepest path. 


A teacher asked a pilgrim, “Where have you come from?”
“From Dongshan’s,” replied the pilgrim.
“What does Dongshan teach?”
“He usually teaches in three ways.”
“What are they?”
“The dark way, the bird path, and the open hand.”


Zen is a mystery school—we enter the mystery to be transformed. The transformation is through the life we already have, toast and heartbreak. We notice our kitchen loves us. The gate is not knowing. We don’t try to explain life, or defend against it, we enter it deeply, we don’t make ourselves certain.

When the world is strange, and when it’s dark, you trust the dark. The universe will carry us through. In this way we trust the light that is down deep inside the dark and in our own hearts.

Meditation is resting in a world we did not manufacture, we don’t need to add, we don’t need to subtract—it’s life and death and it’s now.

A meditation retreat is a chance for things to settle, to walk on the paths that appear and see where they lead. It’s good to take the time for this, to place ourselves into a world where we don’t have to control, but can find out what happens next, where we can experience the stillness inside our lives. There will be ample time to meditate, beautiful places to walk, time to write and ponder, dharma talks, individual work with teachers, vegetarian meals. There will be all the light and sweetness of summer—and meandering into the mystery of uncertainty and not knowing and navigating when you don’t have a map.


Register Now

Mt Madonna Center, Watsonville, CA
445 Summit Rd, Watsonville, CA 95076
(408) 847-0406 

Air Travel
We recommend flying into the San Jose Airport.
It’s the closest to Mount Madonna.
See registration page for full-time and part-time options.

Please contact the registrar, Jan Black, with any questions at

Scholarships are available. Please contact the scholarship coordinator, Andrew Kerlow-Myers:

Note: Camping is possible, bring your own tent, see registration details. 

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