Cardboard Yurt Origins: The Zendo
In 2006, Austrian Zen teacher Vanja Palmers began bringing a large group of European Buddhists to Burning Man. After experiencing the event, Palmers saw the need for a refuge/quiet space for people to retreat to in the bustling Black Rock City. The groups gift to the community became the Zendo structure- a portable space for meditation made from 5,000 pounds of recycled corrugated cardboard, designed by the Zen architect Paul Discoe. The completed structure was part of Entheon Village, sponsored by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). It was located right on the main street, and received many visitors. Originally, the formal meditation schedule was an hour at sunrise, and an hour at sunset.
A Gift to MAPS at Burning Man
After a few years, the structure was then gifted to MAPS for the purpose of providing peer support services and evolved into a space for burners to find respite during particularly challenging times. The current Zendo space is still used as a place for refuge, and although it is no longer used strictly for meditation, we believe the name still fits the purpose of the space. At the Zendo Project, we see the act of sitting for someone in a difficult psychedelic or psychological state as a form of meditation. The work that we do with others is rooted in a foundation of presence. Our principles and teachings center around this fundamental core of presence. We teach and model presence for both our sitters and our guests. To learn more about our principles and approach if you are unfamiliar please visit our educational resources page.
Articles and Photos about the Zendo Structure
If you are interested in learning more about the evolution of the Zendo structure and the Zendo Project, here are some helpful resources and articles:
- Paul Discoe Designs a Cardboard Zendo for Burning Man
- Burning Man: Designers eager to try Zen and the art of desert architecture
- Burning Man Open Mind Zendo 2006 photos
- Burning Man: Psychedelics and Harm Reduction (written by Allan Badiner, author of Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism and Psychedelics)
- To learn more about the intersection of Buddhism and Psychedelics we recommend checking out the book Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism and Psychedelics by Allan Badiner.