A New Sangha Is Born in San Diego

Diversity and Inclusion In February the San Diego sitting groups learned that Thich Nhat Hanh would be offering a public program at Golden Hall in downtown San Diego, with the theme, "Cultivating Peace in Ourselves and our Communities." We were asked to help organize and publicize this event.

There are several sitting groups throughout the area, including one for Vietnamese Americans, and one south of the border in Ensenada, Mexico for Hispanic people. For the first time, members of each sitting group came together to help make this event a success. Our own diversity helped us be mindful of the diversity in San Diego. We translated the flyers and posters into Spanish and created sections in the hall for simultaneous translation in Spanish and in Vietnamese.

Over the weeks a sense of unity and friendship began to develop among the Sangha members, including the monks and nuns from Deer Park. Our attendance goal was 1,500 guests, but we were worried as ticket sales progressed slowly. On the day of the event many more people showed up and there were long lines waiting to buy tickets. Over 2,500 people attended! The day before the event, Thay graciously invited us to Deer Park for tea. He had heard about how well this culturally mixed group had bonded. He paid us a high tribute by saying, "The event was a byproduct. The main thing that happened was the building of this new Sangha."

At our celebratory potluck after the event we decided to continue meeting monthly to meditate, recite the Five Mindfulness Trainings, and have tea ceremonies. At our first gathering we ended the evening holding bands in a circle singing, "Dear Friends." A fitting ending and a new beginning!

Comments from Sangha Members

~ I believe the energy behind this group is the byproduct of our learning what Thay is teaching. Thay has a way, when he needs something to be done, it's not for himself, but it benefits the community, like building our Sangha in the process of organizing the event.

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~ What's amazing and so special to me is that even though we are from different cultural backgrounds we have so much in common in our beliefs.

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~ My wife and I love the new group. We all work together and share the responsibilities. Before we mostly spoke English only with our children. This gives us a chance to practice discussing our ideas and our practice in English.

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~ I am taking a class called, "Knowing we will die, how then shall we live?". During one class the teacher asked us to share something that we loved to do. Ordinarily I would have answered, "Being outdoors, hiking, backpacking," but instead I thought how much pleasure I was experiencing working with the group preparing for Thay's public talk. I began to talk about how people greeted each other with respect and respected each other's opinions (even though we didn't always agree!) I told them about how much i enjoyed the way people interacted, being supportive in helping each other out, showing concern for others' ups and downs, and about the collective sense of humor and how often we laughed .... The teacher mirrored back to me how my face lit up as I talked, and how much joy I seemed to be experiencing. Insight - this is joy!

photos courtesy of San Diego Sangha

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