Land of Medicine Buddha and the Eight Verses Trail
Land of Medicine Buddha.
The name evokes images of misty mountain peaks, pristine waterfalls surrounded by prayer flag wrapped trees, and silent orange-clad monks wandering hallways of simple yet dramatic temples. If that’s what you’re picturing, you’re pretty close to correct. The Land of Medicine Buddha, based in the Santa Cruz Mountains, is an environmentally conscious meditation and retreat center with an active Buddhist community.
Nestled into the redwood forests, they have prayer wheels, temples, and beautiful lodging for those looking for a spiritual retreat. They are a Tibetan Buddhist order that is focused on the teachings of Lama Tsongkhapa, a Buddhist master who lived in Tibet six hundred years ago.
The Land of Medicine Buddha offers classes for every level. From basic teachings to more advanced classes for the interested student. They offer weekly guided meditations and drop-in classes for anyone to attend. You can find a calendar of their events and more detailed descriptions here.
One of my favorite things to do at the Land of Medicine Buddha as a day visitor is walk their Eight Verses Trail.
The Eight Verses Trail is a short meditative loop designed to help hikers calm their minds and contemplate Buddhist teachings. Walking under the canopy of redwoods, you’ll find the Eight Verses written in beautiful script on signs posted every 15 or 20 minutes along the trail. They are the Eight Verses of Thought Transformation by Langri Tangpa, and each verse is accompanied by an explanation of its meaning by the Dalai Lama. In front of the verse is a teak bench for visitors to sit and contemplate the words.
As you sit in contemplation, make sure to look for small stones and other trinkets past visitors have left as offerings. You will often see beached glass or crystals left around the signs. Enjoy them, but do not remove them! I find this trail to be extremely relaxing, and I always leave with a deeper sense of peace than when I arrived. The teachings are clear and kind, and as I walk briskly from one to the other I find myself lost in thought.
The Eight Verses Trail is a perfect short afternoon or early morning hike.
Not only do I appreciate the verses, but the setting is tranquil and enjoyable. As a visitor you hike past delicate open meadows, up slow inclines to beautiful redwood groves, and around oak trees. There is even a small koi pond to stop and enjoy at a nice halfway point.
If you plan on stopping at the Land of Medicine Buddha, please remember there are no visitors on Saturdays and dogs must stay on leash.