Furnace Mountain

Furnace Mountain

No, I’m not referring to the heat wave that’s affecting much of the US. Although, come to think of it, I am.

I must explain. I spent this weekend at one of my favorite places on earth, Furnace Mountain Zen Retreat Center in Clay City, Kentucky.

I’ve been practicing Zen meditation for more than twelve years now. During all that time, I’ve been making periodic visits to Furnace Mountain.

I say “periodic” rather than “regular” because I go when I really need to go. Sometimes that’s every month. But there’ve been years between my visits.

Two things are always the same, no matter how long I stay away.

They always make room for me,

And it’s always exactly what I need to reconnect with what really matters.

The Center is located on Furnace Mountain in the Red River Gorge region of eastern Kentucky. It is rugged and stunning.

The Temple

It is headed up by the patient and long-suffering Zen Master Dae Gak who has practiced Zen for over forty years.

Zen Master Dae Gak

He is sensitive and wise and he likes my jokes.

This weekend was especially challenging because of the staggering heat. Within the Temple, the temperature at its highest was 102° F. Outside, the thermometer broke.

The Temple

Zen Master Dae Gak told us of the Buddhist monks who traditionally sat in meditation during periods of extreme heat and extreme cold. During the spring and fall, they would travel the countryside and engage in scholarly pursuits.

He encouraged us all to use the conditions to our benefit. Most significantly for me, he reminded us that enlightenment is always possible, just a second away.

It was a hard and sweaty weekend. I perspired in places I didn’t know humans perspired. I explored some painful places and came out the better for it.

I’m going to help them set up an apiary there!

Tonight I am at peace about my life and my bees and my future. It has cooled down, and there is a storm brewing.

I’ll be going back to Furnace Mountain in September.

12 thoughts on “Furnace Mountain

  1. The sweating in places you didn’t know you had comment gave me a chuckle. I usually have that happen when I ride my horse on a really hot day.

  2. What an inspiration post, how wonderful that you have found that place to return to refind your equilibrium from time to time. Thank you for sharing the experience, I can well imagine the journey into extreme discomfort and the reward that ultimately brings.

  3. jmgoyder says:

    This place sounds absolutely wonderful – I feel uplifted just reading about it.
    By the way it’s freezing cold here!

  4. oceannah says:

    If you asked me if there was a Zen monestary in KY I would have thought it was the beginning of some silly joke…not only can enlightenment happen in any moment, but anywhere. I’m thrilled for you to have this lovely retreat, sounds like it was much needed. Look forward to following along with your hive project there.
    *anna

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  6. Looks a wonderful place. I had to make do with the Cambridge Zen Center when I lived in the States. These types of places are a bit harder to come by in the UK (outside of major cities, that is).

    I hope your visit to the UK didn’t drive you towards a Zen sanctuary!

    • Ha, no, my London visit was not the reason I needed to go!!
      I know there is a Zen Center in Bristol because Zen Master Dae Gak is the guiding teacher. It has a retreat coming up in August, I believe.

  7. [...] Furnace Mountain (romancingthebee.com) Share this:FacebookTwitterEmailPrintStumbleUponDiggRedditLinkedInTumblrPinterestLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. This entry was posted in Dog days, Furnace Mountain, Meditation, Uncategorized and tagged Clay City, Clay City Kentucky, Furnace, Furnace Mountain, Furnace Mountain Zen Retreat Center, Kentucky, Weather, Zen.Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment [...]

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