Diamond Sutra Course: Wednesdays Through Nov. 17

The Heart Sangha of Santa Cruz
and Mindful Peacebuilding
WITH Dharma Teacher Jim Scott–Behrends
AND Co-host, OI Member dana lee mcfadden
From September 22 to November 10, 2021
7:00 to 8:30 pm
We begin with a short sit followed by
an exploration of the Sutra and Dharma discussion.
Text and commentary are in Awakening of the Heart, by Thich Nhat Hanh.
Phone: 1 669 900-6833
Meeting ID: 981 6219 2839
The Setting/Subhuti’s Question
The First Flash of Lightening
The Greatest Gift
A Rose is not a Rose
Entering the Ocean of Reality
November 10 – no class
Our Deepest Understanding
Donations are appreciated.
Donations can be made through PayPal.com by using Jim’s email address.
For other options to offer dana contact Jim at jsbehrends@aol.com.

A Call In to Service

Dearest Sangha,

It is with much sadness that I am leaving the Bay Area after over 10 years and 4 years organizing Wake Up SF. Sometimes, you have to make tough decisions that put your health first. 

As a parting offering though, I am bringing forth a “Call In” (the opposite of the Call Outs we have so many of these days!) to service for the sangha. 

Practitioners new and old are needed to keep the practice fresh for the entire four-fold sangha. Whether lay, OI, Dharmachaya or monastic, we can take the time to recommit to our community, to join hands in the spirit of Thay and realize his vision of the Sangha as a Buddha (or was it the Buddha as a Sangha?). 

The strength of the Bay Area sangha has been a joy to witness – the largest Road Retreat on the tour! – a community in the midst of flowering. 

A few things really stuck with me over the retreat. After experiencing the peace and ease we felt in the urban forest, one person asked, “Is this always available?” Another retreatant expressed how lonely she felt on the path. 

These two sufferings are not unrelated. It is much easier to experience the joy of the practice with kalyana-mitta, spiritual friends. Noble friends allow us to give and take refuge at any time. Together, we can create the space for True Peace, True Love and Social Justice in ourselves and in the world around us. 

It is just like sitting back-to-back with a friend while enjoying the sunshine and listening to a cool breeze between the trees, much easier for both to be in the present when each has someone to lean on. (If you have back pain, you know what I’m talking about.)

If you weren’t at the retreat in Oakland this weekend, I’d ask that you take the time to listen to Dylan’s speech at the Closing Ceremony. If the recording is poor, it is only because my hands were resonating too much with what he had to say while holding the phone. 🙂

When you sit on your cushion next, please look inside for that bodhichitta, that small voice that calls you to service. I know it is there, if only you would listen. Even if you think you have nothing to offer, be assured that your stable presence and kind words can be more than enough to nurture someone else’s bodhichitta. Over time you can grow that warmth and expand it, until the refuge it creates encompasses you and the sangha. And, if your experience is anything like mine, when the storm comes, the sangha will also be there to provide refuge for you.

As Dylan, Elm, Gary, Steve, Sophie and many others continue the work of sangha-building here in the Bay Area, I know that they will need your help. Young flowers are as fragile as they are fragrant. The sangha needs you now. Will you answer the call?

May You Be Free,

Compassionate Refuge of the Heart

Happiness Is the Way Road-Retreat Sept. 18-19

The Brothers of Deer Park Monastery would like to visit and reconnect with Sanghas in the West this summer!

Brother Freedom, Brother Gem, and Brother Earth are planning a Road-Retreat in a rolling temple (aka a rented motorhome) that they have nicknamed “Dharma Wheelzzz”. Their tour will take them through 10 states including Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, Montana, Washington, Oregon and California from August 10th until September 19th 2021, driving nearly 4,500 miles in six weeks to practice together with you!

This non-residential retreat is coming to the San Francisco Bay Area!

Bay Area retreat days and times:

Saturday, Sep 18th – Sunday, Sep 19th 2021
Day 1: 9AM-7PM
Day 2: 9AM-3PM

REGISTRATION IS NOW CLOSED. We’ve been amazed at the response — so many people have signed up that we are worried we’ll exceed the capacity of our location!

If we are able to accommodate more, we will re-open the registration link.


COVID guidelines: In order to protect the sangha (including our monastic friends), we are asking all attendees to confirm that they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 

In addition, we will require attendees to wear masks and to remain 6’ apart from other attendees. This is an outdoor location, which reduces risk further. And we will also be taking temperatures as people arrive. 

Suggested donation: We are asking for a suggested donation of $70 per person, most of which will go towards Deer Park. Donors have already covered the cost of renting the park. No one will be turned away for donating less, and it is also possible to give no money at all — your presence is enough. You’ll receive instructions on how to make a donation with your registration confirmation.

Refreshments: The organizers can probably provide some drinks and snacks (as well as extra masks, hand sanitizer, and basic first aid), but we you will probably need to bring your own lunches and dinners, or we may organize a potluck. More info to come on this!

Is it okay to attend just part of the retreat? Yes, you are welcome to attend only part of the retreat. Please be mindful when coming and going that you do not disturb other attendees. See below for the tentative agenda.

Tentative agenda

Saturday September 18th:

  • 09:00am Walking Meditation
  • 10:30am Dharma Talk incl. 30 min. of Sitting Meditation
  • 12:30pm Mindful Lunch (Packed Lunch)
  • 02:00pm Deep Relaxation/ Stick Exercise/ Mindful Movements
  • 03:30pm Dharma Sharing
  • 05:00pm Workshops 
  • 06:30pm Mindful Dinner (Packed Dinner)
  • 07:00pm Social Time and End of Day

Sunday September 19th:

  • 09:00am Walking Meditation/ 5 MT Transmission
  • 10:30am Q&A incl. 30 min. of Sitting Meditation
  • 12:30pm Mindful Lunch (Packed Lunch)
  • 01:30pm Dharma Sharing
  • 02:30pm Closing Circle
  • 03:00pm End of Retreat

About the Monastics

Brothers on tour (from left to right): Br. Freedom, Br. Earth, Br. Gem

Thay Ngo Khong (Brother Freedom), Dharma Teacher and acting abbot in Deer Park, was “born” in Plum Village France, practiced in Blue Cliff, NY and Deer Park. His heart’s desire is to apply the practice in order to connect with ourselves and others, and to create sacred spaces, be it physical or musical.

Brother Minh Dia (Brother Earth) is our youngest brother on the tour. Brother Earth is of Vietnamese origin, grew up in the US and is bilingual. He is a warm and super kind practitioner, loves to build siblinghood, listen to people’s life stories, enjoys nature, and riding his bicycle!

Thay Phap Con (Brother Gem), Dharma Teacher, practiced in Tu Duc Temple, Vietnam and Plum Village France, has joined the Deer Park Brothers in June 2020. Thay Phap Con speaks English and Vietnamese, has a deep understanding of Thay’s teachings and loves to play guitar.

Tour Locations

For more information about other stops on the tour, see the Deer Park website.

Online Day of Mindfulness, Saturday May 1st

photos showing the smiling faces of Ven. Thich Tu Luc, Chan Tham Tue, and Chan Dia An

A Day of Mindfulness Practices
enhancing our connection with all that nourishes us.

Saturday, May 1st, 9:45 am to 3:50 pm
Online via Zoom

Practices will include Sitting Meditation, Mindful Movements, Guided Relaxation, Dharma Study, Eating Meditation, Speaking and Listening in peaceful harmony.

Please E-Mail, Call, or Designate “Going” (Facebook) if you intend to join with this day:

PhoTriDOMs@gmail.com , 707-330-0890
FaceBook Event: Compassionate Heart Listening

Please commit to any or all of the three sessions being offered:

9:45 – 11:30 Sitting Meditation, Mindful Movements, Total Relaxation
12:00 – 1:15 Silent Meal, Casual Group Conversation
1:30 – 3:50 Dharma Talk , Discussion

Please prepare your practice space to be as serene as possible. Smiling with knowledge that dogs will bark, phones will ring, family/friends may interrupt. Such is the nature of online mindfulness practice.

with Dharmacharyas of the Plum Village Community of Engaged Buddhism:
Ven. Thích Từ Lực
Chân Thâm Tuệ (Chau Yoder)
Chân Địa An (John Salerno-White)

Online Sutra Study Course Starting April 28

7:00 – 8:30 PM PST

recurring link: https://cccconfer.zoom.us/j/98162192839
Phone: 1 669 900-6833
Meeting ID: 981 6219 2839

Donations are appreciated. Contact Jim to learn how to make a donation at jsbehrends@aol.com.

We begin with a short silent sit followed by an exploration of the Sutra and Dharma discussion. Text and commentary are in Awakening of the Heart, by Thich Nhat Hanh.


APRIL 28 Thundering Silence; Arittha’s Misunderstanding

MAY 5 Sense Pleasures as Disasters; Catching a Snake

MAY 12 The Raft is Not the Shore

MAY 19 Breaking the Bonds

MAY 26 No-Self

JUNE 2 The Non-Achieved and the Non-Expressed

JUNE 9 Impermanence

JUNE 16 Nirvana

JUNE 23 Treating Wrong Understanding

JUNE 30 Living Wisdom

Sutra Course with Jim Scott-Behrends


The Heart Sangha of Santa Cruz and Mindful Peacebuilding


Dharma Teacher Jim Scott-Behrends



February 3, 2021 – March 24, 2021
7:00 – 8:30 PM


We will begin with ten minutes of silent sitting,followed by an exploration of the Sutra and Dharma discussion.Text and commentary can be found in Awakening of the Heart, by Thich Nhat Hanh


WEEK 1 / Feb. 1 Introduction to the Sutra
WEEK 2 / Feb. 8 What Does it Mean to Live Alone?
WEEK 3 / Feb. 18 Great Peace in Solitude
Putting the Teachings of the Buddha into Practice
WEEK 4/ Feb. 24 Awake and Alone; Tied Up Inside
WEEK 5 / March 3 Standing Firmly; Future Ghosts
WEEK 6 / March 10 Smiling Within; Life is a Path
WEEK 7 / March 17 Peace, Freedom and Joy; Transcending Birth and Death
WEEK 8 / March 24 Sharing the Practice



Phone: 1 669 900-6833

Meeting ID: 981 6219 2839
Donations are Appreciated

Contact Jim for information: jsbehrends@aol.com

New Year’s Retreat: Becoming Thousands of Lamps

December 30, 2020 – January 3, 2021
online with Sugarplum Sangha
suggested donation: $50 – $200

Looking back on the past year, gratitude overflows for the people, communities, and teachings that have been there through the challenges and hardships faced by the whole world. Thanks to the right mix of tradition and Beginner’s Mind, supported by the presence of teachers and friends on the path, this year has offered us an opportunity for spiritual growth unlike any other in recent memory.

Plum Village has preserved the ancient tradition of lamp transmission, a ceremonial expression of the light of wisdom being passed from one generation to the next. As we look ahead to next year and beyond, we know that we can be faced with even greater challenges that call us to stand together with dedication and grace. In those moments, it will be the light we shine today that future generations look to for hope and guidance.

In this retreat, we’ll enjoy:

  • Formal Transmission of the Five Mindfulness Trainings
  • Writing Insight Gathas
  • Teachings on the lineage of Plum Village lamp transmissions
  • Sitting Meditation
  • Dharma Sharing
  • Chanting

Click below for the retreat schedule and registration
More Info

Sit-Walk-Listen – SF/LA/NY

Dear friends and community,

Sit Walk Listen organizers from the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, and New York City invite you to join us for our final event of the year: a celebration of the people, work, and many hands it took to arrive at this moment.

Zoom link : https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81336943519

FB event link : https://fb.me/e/VMYwUaNR

We pay tribute to the work of Ralph D. Abernathy, Martin Luther King, and so many others of the civil rights movement, the demonstrators and organizers opposing American involvement in the Vietnam-American war, the suffragists who fought for women’s equality, and all of our spiritual and land ancestors that have made it possible for this work to manifest.

We plan to offer guided meditation, movement, and listening circles in an online format so that all of us from the three chapter locations can join together in one gathering. Please find a schedule of events below: 

10:00 – 10:25 am // Arriving and welcome

10:25 – 10:55am // Guided Meditation

10:55 – 11:00 am // Movement 

11:00 – 11:50 am // Listening circles 

11:50 – 12:00 pm // Closing and announcements 

12:00 – 12:15 pm // Optional slideshow for whoever wants to stay

Zoom : https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81336943519
Meeting ID: 813 3694 3519
One tap mobile
+16699006833,,81336943519# US (San Jose)
+13462487799,,81336943519# US (Houston)

Rains Retreat for Lay Friends

From Sugarplum Sangha:

Traditionally during the rainy season, since the time of the Buddha, the monastics dwell together in one place physically with limited outside trips with the intention of strengthening the practice, reflecting on what habit energy each person would like to focus and transform, and encouraging each other’s growth on the spiritual path. This inspiring talk from Brother Phap Dung opens our hearts to the spirit and possibilities of a rain retreat. It’s a nourishing time to be with ourselves and among friends.

Plum Village has a suggested guidelines for lay friends to follow along including 6 sitting meditation, 6 mindful meals, 1 day of mindfulness,1 lazy day a week, watching a dharma talk and studying a sutra text together. This year we have a special treat that Deer Park monastery will be offering a weekly online Day of Mindfulness on Sunday and our sangha would like to support you with these periods of practice (schedule is attached).
Weekly rain retreat schedule:

Rain Retreat Schedule.jpg
  • Wednesday night sutra discussion will focus on the Discourse on the Four Establishments of Mindfulness and Full Awareness of Breathing, which are the foundations of Plum Village practices. 
  • Saturday morning biweekly: interpreted dharma talk from Vietnamese
  • Sunday Day of Mindfulness: morning part with Deer Park monastery, afternoon with our sangha for deep relaxation, mindful movements, sitting meditation, walking meditation, and dharma sharing

We invite you to join us this upcoming Sunday Nov 15, 4-6pm to set forth our intention of what we want to grow more in ourselves and what habit energy we want to focus on transforming for the next 3 months together. We look forward to letting the refreshing dharma rain that we can create together nourish our community.

For Zoom details, contact Jonathan at sugarplumsangha@gmail.com.

The Hidden Reservoir

Inner Resources for Cooling the Flames
an online retreat with Sugarplum Sangha
Oct 16 – 19

You are invited to create space for deep stillness and renewal in these fiery times. To take time for meditation, dharma offerings, and community sharings within the safe container of the Sugarplum Sangha. To celebrate the water and flow within us, lovingly gifted by Mother Earth. In meditation, movement, and song, come home to the cooling and refreshing elements in you and around you.

Sugarplum Sangha does not charge registration fees for our programs. Instead we offer everyone the opportunity to practice generosity and encourage retreatants and members to financially support events by contributing their most generous amount given their individual circumstances.

For more information and to register: