About Deer Park Monastery (brief)
This 400-acre sanctuary rests peacefully in the chaparral mountains of southern California, surrounded and protected by oaks and the natural landscape. It was established in July 2000 by the Plum Village four-fold Sangha. Now, it is a safe and serene refuge for many practitioners to come and learn the art of mindful living and to practice with a community, a Sangha.
At Deer Park, the residential monastic community and lay community practice together year round under the guidance of our teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh (Thây), in the tradition of engaged Buddhism, practicing mindfulness through out our everyday life. There are two hamlets:
Solidity Hamlet (for monks and laymen) and Clarity Hamlet (for nuns and laywomen). The two hamlets come together several times a week to practice.
At Deer Park, we are nourished not just by the formal sitting meditation sessions, but also by the practice of meditation in our daily activities outside the meditationhall. We are guided by the teachings of Thây on mindfulness and peace-making. We learn to live together as a community and to take refuge in the wisdom of the Sangha.
Mindfulness is the energy of being aware and awake to the present moment, to life. It is the continuous practice of touching life deeply in every moment. To be mindful is to be truly alive, present and at one with those around you and with what you are doing. We harmonize our body and mind while we wash the dishes, drink our cup of tea, or work in the garden.
Here at the monastery, we do very much the same things as one would in the home: walking, sitting, working and eating, except now we learn to do them with mindfulness and concentration. We practice mindfulness in each moment of the day, whether we are in the kitchen, the
toilet, in our room or on the path leading from one place to another. We practice to arrive in the present moment and not to be carried away by the past, the future or by strong emotions.
In practicing together as a Sangha (community of practice), our practice of mindfulness becomes more joyful, relaxed and steady. We are bells of mindfulness for each other, supporting and reminding each other along the path. With the support of the community, we can practice to cultivate peace and joy, within and around us, as a gift for all of those whom we love and care for. We can cultivate our solidity and freedom – solid in our deepest aspiration and free from our fears, misunderstandings and our afflictions.