Dear Beloved Community,
Aware of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak across the Globe, including the west coast of the United States, we have taken the difficult decision to close Deer Park Monastery to the public, from now until May 1st. We will review and update this decision over the coming weeks as the situation evolves.
The community met several times to hear everyone’s view and concerns and explore options aware of the impact this decision will have. Let us breathe together as we all do our best to be there and support each other through this uncertain time. We will be giving full refunds to those already registered. We regret that we will no longer be able to host our North America Dharma Teacher Gathering, Wake Up Retreat and ongoing Seasonal retreats as well as Sunday Days of Mindfulness.
We will open up to take registration for special retreats like Family Retreats, Teen Camp and 20 Year Anniversary Retreats as the dates approach, but advise against booking flights and travel until nearer the time, when we have more information about the situation. It is uncertain how this virus outbreak will develop and what the US and California departments as well as the international health institutions will recommend. We will do our best to inform everyone of any further closure as soon as possible.
We recognise that, as a spiritual community and a place of refuge, we have a social responsibility to protect the wellbeing, safety, and happiness of our visiting guests and residential community.
At Deer Park we create precious conditions for communal togetherness, including shared meals and shared accommodation—living together as a spiritual community of over 45 monastics and a number of aspirants and long term retreatants. These are valuable experiences that allow us all to feel part of the human family, and to build connections, trust, and closeness. Unfortunately, in the current situation, this communal aspect of Deer Park makes us unusually vulnerable to the transmission of this virus. Furthermore, on Days of Mindfulness and retreats many friends come to participate and they share close quarters or seating arrangements for long sessions like Dharma Talks and meals.
Non-local Collective Practice
As a community we are taking this opportunity to pause and reflect on the state of our planet and the reality of our interbeing. Over the next two months, our sangha of 45 monastics and around 10 lay long term retreatants will be continuing to live simply, reducing unnecessary travel, and continuing our studies, training, and practice, as well as our mindful work to prepare Deer Park for re-opening in the summer months. Although presently conditions are not sufficient for us to welcome you here to practice with us this spring, we hope that you will have a chance to make the most of the situation to take time to pause, slow down, and simplify your lives, taking opportunities to rest, spend time in nature, and take care of yourselves and your loved ones.
Aware of the importance of supporting and nourishing our collective practice in these challenging times, we encourage you to continue your practice of mindfulness at home, with your local sangha or with an online sangha. In our international community we are exploring online ways to continue to share our teachings and practices with all of you. You may like to download the Plum Village App (with guided meditations, relaxations, and teachings) and follow our Plum Village Youtube channel. More information about online Dharma teachings and webinars will be announced. To be notified about online Dharma teachings and webinars, visit the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation and sign up for their newsletter.
We send our thoughts and prayers to those around the world facing suffering and difficulty in these moments, and look forward to the chance to welcome our wider community back to Deer Park in the near future. May all of us as a species use this opportunity to wake up to our shared humanity, our shared vulnerability, and to nourish our compassion and tolerance, and not our fear and discrimination.
A lotus for you,
The Monks and Nuns of Deer Park Monastery, California, USA
HOW YOU CAN HELP
1. Our monastery is dependent on retreat fees to cover our basic necessities. We hope you will consider making an additional donation during this time. To donate, click here.
If you would like to designate your gift to Deer Park Monastery, please select it in the drop-down menu under Gift Designation or type the monastery’s name in the Gift Designation Notes box.
2. If you have registered for a retreat that is now cancelled, please consider offering all or some portion of your already paid retreat fees to be retained by Deer Park Monastery as a donation.
Any gift will greatly help the monastics and be deeply appreciated.
RESOURCES FOR YOU
Aware of the importance of supporting and nourishing our collective practice in these challenging times, our monasteries are exploring online ways to continue to share their teachings with you. You may like to download the Plum Village App (with guided meditations, relaxations, and teachings) and follow the Plum Village Online Youtube channel. More information about online Dharma teachings and webinars will be announced shortly. To be notified, click here to subscribe to the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation newsletter.
To see a listing of all our worldwide monastery closures due to the coronavirus outbreak, please click here.