ONLINE RETREAT October 21 to 25, 2020
Deer Park Monastery’s 20th Anniversary Celebration Retreat Online
Join us for this rare chance to enjoy moments of peace and awakening as a spiritual family
Bring the mindfulness practices and the larger community of Deer Park Monastery straight into your home, turning your apartment or house into the Ocean of Peace Meditation Hall, and nourishing the roots that we all share here in the valley of the hidden mountain. We will celebrate online the past twenty years since Thay first inaugurated the monastery in the Oak Grove by bringing back many of the monks and nuns who were present here then—the ones who rolled up their sleeves to refurbish the abandoned buildings, transform the dry chaparral into serene ponds and groves, as well as touch you with their talks, their deep listening, and their capacity to bring transformation and healing to you and your families.
“The elders as well as the younger people have come together with all their love and hope to build this Deer Park Monastery. In my eyes, this is a great monument. When we do things with all our love and hope—even though it may not be visible—it is something real that we can see with mindfulness.”
— Thich Nhat Hanh
This is a family reunion, and we want you all to be there! We will enjoy guided meditation, Dharma talks from our elder founding brothers and sisters, walking meditation, mindful eating, total relaxation, Dharma sharing in family groups according to language, and fun workshops with stories from the past twenty years of Deer Park as well as sharings about Thay’s vision for the future of Buddhism in America. The retreat will be in English and Vietnamese, with translation into both languages.
A specially-curated five-day experience
Featuring guided meditations, relaxations, and movement
Intimate group interactions with monastics
Listening deeply and learning from one another
Exclusive talks from senior teachers
Broadcast live from Deer Park Monastery, Plum Village, and around the world
Connect live to our greater community
Generating a collective energy of mindfulness with old friends and new faces
“I owe a lot of the happiness and thriving energy in my life in this present moment to this time that I spent with the monastics and laypeople at Deer Park Monastery. The gifts I received and cultivated are still unfolding—they are hard to understand and express because they are so deep.”
—Sara Henry – True Manifestation of Offering“Learning to be with oneself, while wonderfully transformative, is often far from a comfortable experience. But it is a key experience if we are to begin waking up and engaging with the process of healing. Deer Park is a place where this direct encounter with oneself, and with life, is possible.”
—Alex Cline – Chân Phật Sơn“The greatest gift of Deer Park is that I learned a way to be in the world that allows a future to be possible, and I met others walking in that same direction. It showed me how to work for the world I want without having to fight; how to be strong for the things I love without anger and fear; and how to solidly occupy the ground on which I stand and know what it is truly made of.”
—Laura Hunter – Chân Giáo Hải
Questions about the program
How much time do I need to follow this retreat?
This is a 5-day retreat, Wednesday evening to Sunday afternoon (See tentative schedule here). Ideally, it is best if you can clear your days from other commitments so you can fully participate and savor the peaceful energy of the retreat, even when you are not following a scheduled session.
Please note that you can choose to opt-in or opt-out of the four “Dharma sharing” afternoon sessions. If you opt-in, we ask that you commit to join all four sessions, on time, so the group can have a strong collective experience. To avoid disturbing the group, we will not be able to admit people to the Dharma Sharing sessions once they have started.
What do I need to join this retreat? Do I need to install anything? Do I need any special equipment?
This retreat will be delivered to you through the Zoom app. When following the live events and Dharma Sharing (the smaller breakout groups), you will need to install the Zoom software and you will need a webcam on your computer or tablet, so people can see you (just as you will see others). It is also preferable to have headphones, ideally with a microphone.
If I can’t join one of the sessions, can I still follow the other sessions?
We encourage you to attend as much of the retreat as possible to get the greatest benefit from the practice. Please note that if you wish to join the four Dharma Sharing sessions, you will need to follow the Dharma Talk in the morning in order to “unlock” the Dharma Sharing session in the afternoon. To support the collective shared experience, it is not possible to join the Dharma Sharing if you have not attended the Dharma Talk.
If I can’t join a session live, can I watch it later?
Yes, we try to post recordings of all sessions to the retreat video platform within a few hours. The recording of this livestream will remain available afterwards.
I don’t have a very stable internet connection. Can I still join the retreat?
It depends how unstable. Your viewing quality is similar to watching something on YouTube. So if that is a pleasant enough experience, then yes you can join this retreat. But for Dharma Sharing others might find it difficult to hear you. You can ask permission to turn off your camera, so others can hear you better.
Can I join the retreat from my phone?
Yes, when you subscribe you will receive an email with instructions and telephone numbers to join us via Zoom. You will only be able to follow the live sessions; it is not possible to join Dharma Sharing sessions from a phone.
Do I have to open my camera or can I join just audio?
Yes you can join only via audio, you do not have to start your camera, you can also choose only to watch via our platform. Only when you join the Dharma Sharing session, everybody is asked to start their camera to create a safe environment.
Will I be able to save and keep the recordings after the retreat?
All the recordings will be available afterwards on our platform. You will not be able to download them.
What is “Dharma Sharing” or “breakout groups”?
In this retreat, the Dharma Sharing is a smaller break-out group of 20-25 participants, led by a monastic. It gives us a chance to listen deeply, to speak from the heart, and benefit from each other’s insights and experience of practicing mindfulness. We can share our experiences, our joys, our difficulties, and our questions relating to the teachings in the retreat, and the mindfulness practices we are following together.
How are the “breakout groups” formed? Can I choose which breakout group to join?
The groups will be assigned by the monastics, based on our experience of creating diverse yet balanced groups. It is not possible to assign you to a chosen facilitator or to be in a group with friends.
What do I need to prepare before joining this retreat?
Please organize your time and commitments, so you have space from Wednesday evening at 5 pm Pacific to Sunday afternoon at 4 pm Pacific to fully participate in the retreat. A few days before the retreat starts, you’ll receive a digital package with information and resources on how to prepare yourself and your environment so you can really enjoy the retreat. Please allow an hour or two before Wednesday evening to familiarize yourself with these materials and set up your computer correctly. You’re invited to prepare a room or corner in your home where you can be online, undisturbed. It is important that you are not interrupted during the various sessions, so you may like to communicate with loved ones, or other people you live with, to ask for their support in this. If you are participating in the Dharma Sharing groups, it will be important for you to log on from a private space where you can share without others hearing you.
If I have a question about the teachings given during the retreat, where / when can I ask it?
The Dharma Sharing break-out groups are the ideal time to ask questions from the heart about the teachings you have heard and practices we are following together. You can also write a question in the comments below the video of a particular talk. The teachers on Saturday and Sunday will do their best to address questions that have arisen during the course of the weekend.
Will I be able to interact with the monastics directly? Eg. Can I ask them a question and get an answer?
The Dharma Sharing break-out groups offer a rare opportunity to join a circle facilitated by a monastic. If you are interested in connecting with the monastics, we strongly encourage you to make the commitment to opt-in to the four Dharma Sharing sessions. Our teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, taught us that Dharma Sharing break-out groups are the most powerful way to learn and grow in our mindfulness practice. Please note that these sessions are not direct question-and-answer sessions, but a group where questions are addressed collectively.
I live with other people. Can I still join the retreat?
Yes, you do not need to be in a hut on a mountain to enjoy this retreat. So long as you have a quiet corner or room where you can be undisturbed, and perhaps have space to stretch and do the mindful movements, you will be able to enjoy the retreat fully. You may need headphones, and if you are joining Dharma Sharing, somewhere in the house where you can speak without being heard by others. You can explain to those you live with your intention in joining the retreat and ask for their support. The idea is not to cut yourself off from them, but to generate a strong energy of mindfulness, peace and presence, during the sessions, that you can bring to your in-person interactions off-screen over the course of the weekend. You will be able to apply many of the teachings on deep listening, mindful eating and so on, right away!
Is this retreat appropriate for all ages? Can children or teenagers join?
This retreat is designed as an adult learning experience, but anyone is welcome to join the meditations, talks, movement and relaxations. Please note that in the Dharma Sharing breakout groups themes may spontaneously arise that are not appropriate for teenagers or children, and so it is not possible to register participants under 18 for the Dharma Sharing groups. We are currently exploring how we can offer a different, more tailored experience for children and teens online. Please check our events listing for future announcements.
I haven’t done a retreat before. Will I be able to follow this one?
This retreat is accessible to those new to the practice, and will be a refreshing and deepening experience for those who have been practicing mindfulness for some time. It is a precious chance to connect directly with our spiritual community, and to meet like-minded people.
I’m not in the Americas. Can I join from a different time zone? Will I miss anything?
Please see the schedule and convert the times into your time-zone. If you are in a later time-zone, you may still be able to follow the morning meditations, exercise, and teachings, relaxations and Dharma sharing (and simply miss the evening session, which you could watch the next morning). We have designed this retreat primarily for the Americas, as our centers in Europe and Asia are offering online events in their region. This is still an experiment and we are open to learning, so please do send us your feedback.
What language will the retreat be given in?
The retreat will be offered in English with Vietnamese translation, though some activities will be offered in Vietnamese with English translation as well. As we expand our experience and technical capacity, we hope to offer translation into more languages in the future. Thank you for your patience and understanding.
Is there any translation for the live sessions?
The talks will be translated live into Vietnamese if the talk is in English, and translated live into English if the talk is in Vietnamese.
What if more than one person in my household is joining the retreat?
Each person should register separately for the retreat, and we recommend that you use separate devices/computers for the Dharma Sharing break-out sessions so that each person can participate fully. You may like to enjoy watching the Dharma talks together as a family.
Is there a refund option if I need to cancel my registration?
We can offer a full refund within 30 days of your payment.
If I cannot afford the lowest scholarship fee, can I apply for a further reduction?
We can offer a full refund within 30 days of your payment.
Is there a refund option if I need to cancel my registration?
We do not want the financial aspect to keep you from participating. If you want to attend this retreat and your budget does not allow for you to pay the lowest scholarship fee at this moment, please email us at email@example.com to apply for a further reduction.
What is my registration fee paying for?
Your contribution will go towards supporting food, lodging and healthcare for our community of 700 monastics worldwide in 10 mindfulness practice centers. It also supports our investment in technical infrastructure in terms of internet, cameras, and equipment to allow us to offer more teachings live, online, and to facilitate direct contact between monastics and practitioners. Without your support, we would be unable to sustain our community or offer the Dharma online.