Just east of Tehachapi and above Sand Canyon lies another world. Take a day trip to Mountain Spirit Center, a Buddhist monastery and spiritual retreat, and you'll enter an exotic eastern world - with no passport required.
Some locals refer to the center as "Tibet in Tehachapi" but the official designation for this Buddhist monastery is one of Korean Zen, affiliated with the Chogye Order of Korean Buddhism.
A unique attraction, the Peace Bell, and the structure that houses it, is painted by hand. It features children from all over the world wearing traditional costumes, holding hands, encircling the bottom of the bell. In the middle, the word "peace" is translated into hundreds of languages. At the top is the sentence, "Living Together In Peace and Harmony."
Mountain Spirit Center is making great, green strides in preserving the environment that contributes to the Korean temple's unique spiritual energy.
"The temple is off the electrical power grid - electricity is generated on site by the power of sun and wind. Well water is reused for irrigation of native plants and trees; therefore, care is taken to not use toxic chemicals, soaps, or detergents. It is our goal to develop the temple in a sustainable and environmentally beneficial manner," states the center's website.
Directions: To reach the center, take Highway 58 east, exit at the Sand Canyon Road/Monolith exit, turn right at the stop sign, then make an immediate left onto Tehachapi Boulevard; go 100 yards to Sand Canyon Road and turn right. Go up Sand Canyon Road 2.5 miles. Turn right onto the dirt road and follow the signs to Mountain Spirit Center (Tae Go Sa temple). Previews of the center's buildings and local foliage are available at www.mountainspiritcenter.net.
Visitors are welcome any day, and Sunday Services are held weekly at 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. The center is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Questions about various retreats, events or volunteer opportunities may be addressed to the Abbot at (661) 822-7776.