Image by Gabriele Diwald

November 15 - February 14 (ongoing entry)

suggested donation: $50 - $300


Zoom link and password friendship.

If you join us for the first time on Zoom, please register 

Online Rain Retreat

Week 12, Feb 8-14


Friday Feb 12 - Happy Lunar New Year! The year of the studious ox. 

Saturday 2pm PST Special New Year Oracle reading with English poems offered by Joann and Karen

Sunday Feb 14, 4-6pm PST Closing ceremony of the retreat and reflect on what had been nourished and useful for you in the past 3 months practicing as a sangha together. Please fill out the feedback form to help us put energy toward the next phase of sangha offerings together. 

What a wonderful journey we have been traveling together for the 90-day of immersive practice period together! Thank you for all the efforts you have put in to studying, asking questions, understanding, sharing your practice experiences with others and applying your insights. 


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Grateful to the support of the community, the facilitators and each other for the daily dharma rain

Proposed new public schedule

Morning Meditations: Monday & Friday 7am - 8am (PST)

Weekly Meditation: Sunday 4-6pm (PST)

Monthly 4th Saturday 7-9pm (PST): Five Mindfulness Trainings Full recitation ceremony

Monthly 4th Sunday 9am-4pm (PST): Day of Mindfulness

Sangha-membership schedule:

Morning Meditations: Tuesday - Thursday 7am - 8am (PST)

Evening Meditations: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 8pm - 9pm (PST)

Live Courses, study group, topical exploration, etc. to be proposed

Interpreted Dharma Talks: changing be announced

If you would like to contribute and support the sangha, please consider becoming a member. 


For the next 2 weeks, the sangha will take a break but you're welcome to self organize and sit in the morning or at night at the usual times with the same Zoom link. Send us what activities or ideas of offering that you might like to lead or co-lead.

Wednesday night sutra study at 7pm PST: we will continue the course for 2 weeks to finish up


Awakening of the Heart by Thich Nhat Hanh - pg.164-175

The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching by Thich Nhat Hanh - pg.214-220 and pg. 146-155

Satipatthana Meditation: A Practice Guide by Bhikku Analayo - pg.171-195

Saturday interpreted talk 7am: we will continue to finish up part 2 of the 3 Doors of Liberation Sutra 

Chanting preparation: Would you like to practice chanting to lead a morning or evening sit? Let us know. 

Day of Mindfulness, Sunday Feb 28, 9am - 4pm PST


Week 8, Jan 18-24


Upcoming sangha activities this week:

Thank you to Karlen for guiding the dharma discussion on Monday to prepare us better for the sutra study materials this week. Also, thank you Linda for helping with Wednesday morning sit.

Wednesday night sutra study at 7pm PST: we will discuss awareness of the conditioning of the mind & body, the 7th & 8th exercises in the Anapanasati sutra. A reading excerpt is from the book The Craving Mind by Judson Brewer

Reading homework for sutra study next week:

Awakening of the Heart by Thich Nhat Hanh - pg. 51-59 and 150-163

Satipatthana Meditation: A Practice Guide by Bhikku Analayo - pg.127In-150

The Heart of The Buddha's Teaching  by Thich Nhat Hanh- pg.169-175


Saturday Interpreted talk 7am-8:45am

Sunday Day of Mindfulness

9:00 am  Walking meditation with Deer Park monastery

10:15am Dharma talk with Deer Park monastery

2:00pm   Deep relaxation with Jonathan

3:15pm   Qigong mindful movements with Susan Rawcliffe

4pm-6pm Sitting meditation, walking, readings and dharma discussion

Dana for monastics

A message from Duyen Tran, an OI aspirant studying with Deer Park sisters this past year:


Dear friends on the path, 


Wishing everyone a healthy and joyful start to 2021. The Rains Retreat at Deer Park will be coming to an end this month and in mid-February we will be ushering in the Lunar New Year. 


Traditionally, these have been festive days to come to Deer Park and celebrate with the Brothers and Sisters and fortify our Fourfold Sangha. Due to COVID, there will be a combined celebration on Sunday January 31 for the monastic and Rains Retreat community only. It is not open to the public for safety reasons. 


In the past, these events have also been opportunities for the lay community to offer dana to the monastics. I and some dharma teachers will be driving to Deer Park on that day to safely present gifts to our beloved teachers. There are 58 Brothers and Sisters--some came from Plum Village and Blue Cliff to celebrate Deer Park's 20th year anniversary! It will be given to them in cash because this is one of the few times in the year where they are allowed to accept monetary gifts from lay friends for personal use (so this is different from support you might have given through TNH Foundation).


If you would like to participate in this practice of generosity: 

  1. You can send to me via venmo (@Duyen_Tran) or paypal ( or zelle (reach out for more info)

  2. Please do it by January 24

  3. Provide an email address (so we can send you any pictures/updates)

Week 8, Jan 11-17


Upcoming sangha activities this week:


Wednesday night sutra study at 7pm PST, we will revisit the topics of immersing the body with joy and happiness - the first two exercises from the Anapanasati sutra, for establishing mindfulness in feelings. Please watch the video lecture, guided meditations, a practice guide, and suggested readings  in Chapter 6: The Oasis of the course. Our live session on Wednesday will focus on discussion of these materials, and you are invited to explore them in the meantime and come to sutra study with questions and reflections in mind.

Friday Be-In at 6:30pm - 7:45pm. A fun time to relax, share poems, songs, gratitude, games, hugs. 

Saturday, 7am-8:45am - Interpreted dharma talk of Thay & 2:30pm tea time with Joann on the bumps in the practice

Sunday Day of Mindfulness

9:00 am  Walking meditation with Deer Park monastery

10:15am Dharma talk with Deer Park monastery

2:00pm   Deep relaxation

3:15pm   Karen Hillsberg will give a presentation on early Buddhist history from her time working with the Venerable Thich Phuoc Tinh at Deer Park monastery on the book 42 Chapters Sutra. 

4pm-6pm Sitting meditation, walking, readings and dharma discussion

Reading homework for sutra study next Wednesday:

Awakening of the Heart by Thich Nhat Hanh - pg.48-51 and 144-149

Satipatthana Meditation: A Practice Guide by Bhikku Analayo - pg.103-125

Dharma talks from New Year Retreat


Week 7 , Jan 4-10


In the beginning of this talk, Thay reminds us that sitting meditation is not just for nourishment and safety, but also for confronting our difficulties and not running away.


Many sanghas might have difficulties and discords, even the Buddha's sangha. Thay teaches us the most important work is to build brotherhood and sisterhood through deep listening and loving speech and be specific on how we do it each day if Thay asks us. Through having trust, respect and care for each other, we can have transformative heart-to-heart talks, give honest feedback & shine lights on weaknesses that the other person can accept easier.

Thay likens the lazy day practice as an intensive all night sit in other Buddhist traditions. Why? The spirit of the day is to do everything in mindfulness, ease and freedom from our habit energy of rushing and wanting to get things done so we can move on to the next thing on the list.


Thay also presents the teachings by Master Linji on being in the active role, not being a victim or blaming the circumstances, but with confidence from our experience and knowing that our practice and presence can change the situation. Master Linji also advises us to be our true person in all situations, not being this way with this group and that way with another group, not wearing masks to appease others, even in the name of using skillful means/languages to be likable to a certain group. The strength of our practice and integrity in being the same true person can create respect and acceptance naturally by others. 


Many gems in this talk. Enjoy! The talk was given on 03-16-2006 in Vietnamese at Plum Village.

Week 6, Dec 28 - Jan 3


Dear friends, please note that the evening meditation from 8-9pm on Friday, December 25th, is canceled. We will continue to hold the morning meditation from 7-8am.  Happy holidays to you and your loved ones. 

The Beginning Anew: Becoming Thousands of Lamps retreat  over the New Year from Dec 30-Jan 3 is available for registration now. There will be more dharma talks, art, bonfire, ringing in the new year ceremony, 5 MT transmission and other activities overlaying on the regular rain retreat schedule, creating a full immersion with the community. Please register early to help us with timely sending out of retreat welcome letters. If you're already participating in the rain retreat, feel free to offer dana however you feel best. 

Please note that sutra study on Wednesday 12/30 will be moved to Tuesday 12/29 7-9pm and Interpreted talk on 1/2/21 will be moved to 12/30/20

Happiness Meeting - Friday 12/18 6-7pm


Week 5, Dec 21- Dec 27


Please join the community for another fun gathering together to express our gratitude and appreciation for each other, songs, and show-and-tell.

Sutra study presentations from previous weeks were uploaded on Wednesday. Enjoy the new recorded meditation. The theme this week is the contemplation on stages of death, decomposition, and the 5 remembrances to reflect upon how we spent the precious gift of life each day. 


I am of the nature to grow old. There is no way to escape growing old.

I am of the nature to have ill health. There is no way to escape ill health.

I am of the nature to die. There is no way to escape death.

All that is dear to me and everyone I love are of the nature to change. There is no way to escape being separated from them.

My actions are my only true belongings. I cannot escape the consequences of my actions.

My actions are the ground upon which I stand.


We have 2 new uploaded interpreted talks from last week. Sorry we had audio issue last Saturday, so I've re-recorded the whole talk again. 


Here are the notes for the dharma talk on Saturday 12/19 on the early Mahayana and the Ugrapariccha sutra. Ugradatta was a wealthy elder who asked the Buddha about how to practice as a lay Bodhisattva, a monastic Bodhisattva and how can the laypeople practice like the monastics.  The audio will be uploaded soon. 

We had a wonderful full Day of Mindfulness on 12/20 and since Deer Park wasn't offering a dharma talk, we studied part 2 of the Ugrapariccha sutra.

Week 3 


We had a wonderful Be-In last week. So much joy to be in community, sharing our homes virtually, reciting poems and songs and making funny animal gestures that others would guess. Thank you Melanie for facilitating and everyone for showing up authentically.

Sutra study presentation from last Wednesday will be uploaded today. Jonathan covered the ways to look at the various body parts listed in the Satipatthana sutra to contemplate as "different beans in a bag," which sometimes can be challenging for a beginner to know how or where to start. The Plum Village's tradition of deep relaxation meditation is an invitation to look deeply into different body parts and send our appreciation. Pick one body part and ask "How have you been doing throughout all the times you're with me?" can bring up some surprising memories and gratitude.


The guided meditation also touches upon looking the body parts just as they are and be aware of what reaction we have toward certain areas of the body, negative or positive, and where does one body part ends and another begins? What happens when we add one part to another part and so on, at what point do we have a "body"?


Week 3 interpreted talk is uploaded (original talk in Vietnamese). We have a chance to learn about listening to simply let the dharma rain soak our good seeds without needing to memorize, take notes, or compare/contrast with our ideas.  Thay shared about using a leaf at the top of his mosquito net to help him remember to smile the first thing in the morning before doing anything. Smiling to the insight of the precious 24 hours delivered right into our bed when we wake up. Life is a precious gift that miraculously comes every day, not just something we receive at Christmas or birthday once a year.


Another 24 hours to live deeply in each moment and looking at beings with the eyes of compassion. It's strange but when we look at others with compassion, we have less suffering and the others also will have less suffering. Thay used a green leaf to help him remember. Can we look around and smile to our gifts whenever our eyes encounter a leaf throughout the day? 

In the later part of the talk, we will have a chance to learn about the history of our founding teacher Nhat Dinh and the root temple Tu Hieu in Vietnam and the many generations of teachers holding space there since the 1800s. Teacher Nhat Dinh was in the fifth generation of teachers that received the transmission of his teacher Dao Minh in the lineage of Master Linji. Enjoy the beautiful lamp transmission poems that echo much appreciations, hopes and advices for the next lamp holder. One lamp to transmit the light to thousands of lamps. 


Week 2 


If you have a chance, please listen to 3 wonderful recent dharma talks from Brother Phap Luu, Brother Phap Khong and Sister Huong Nghiem for the rain retreat. You can attend Deer Park's dharma talk by enrolling in the Wisdom of Non-discrimination: 90-day Rain Retreat or just follow on Youtube. 

Last Saturday's interpreted dharma talk from Thay titled "Purifying Speech, Sitting Still" was from the Living tradition of Buddhist meditation winter retreat in 1997. He touched upon the 4 supportive conditions for the practice, how we perceive something at biophysiological level and mentally, how to calm the activities of the body and mind using the breathing exercises from the Anapanasati sutra. 


In the last part, he gave an important practice of Purifying our speech, especially when our habit energy of speaking while angry took over. I have the dharma talk with Thay's voice softer in the background so friends who are wanting to learn Vietnamese or English could have a reference language to compare to. Enjoy! The original talk in Vietnamese is here



Tea Time


Joann announced the bi-weekly Tea Time at 2:30pm Saturday as a special time for shining light on some of those bumps in the road of practice through a neuroscience lens at how to meet these challenges with compassion and right effort

Melanie is offering to host a fun Be-In every first Friday of the month from 6:30-7:45pm. Please bring songs, jokes, poems, music, dances, kids, pets, plants, stuffed animals and yourself to join in the fun. The first Be-In is on Dec 4

Week 1 Setting intention for practice

From Brother Phap Dung's dharma talk, we can  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.

This list of questions for reflection of our practice that Thay wrote for the monastics can be a helpful start. 

Thay also advises friends to keep a journal for the practice during this period so we can keep track of our efforts. This can also include a check list at the end of each day like this one Thay gave out during a retreat. 

If you want to be creative, you can even make a gatha (little poem) that has a spirit of your intention and connect that to some daily activities you do to keep that fire alive in you. For example, I made a tea gatha or a writing gatha like this: 










The list of Plum Village gathas is here or more explained in the book Present Moment, Wonderful Moment.



The first interpreted dharma talk on Nov 14 is on the topic of "Untie-ing the knot of suffering in ourselves before we can help others" Thay gives us many insights into the nature of these knots that can be from hopelessness, craving, hatred, that can control us from the shadow day and night, but as we grow our nourishing seeds inside, we could find more of a balance and freedom from the tight grip of these knots and act in a way that's more true to ourselves. 

You can listen to this talk by downloading here



Once you enroll in the course, you can see all the texts and videos for the Anapanasati (Full awareness of Breathing) and Satipatthana (4 Establishments of Mindfulness) sutra.


The books that would be helpful for you are:

Awakening of the Heart by Thich Nhat Hanh

Satipatthana Meditation: A Practice Guide by Bhikku Analayo  (free pdf)

Introduction to the Rain Retreat

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 from Nov 15 to Feb 14. All times are in PST California time zone. It's okay if you join later than the start date of Nov 15. You can state your intentions to practice any time till the end of the retreat. 

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​Please feel welcome to enjoy any or all of the practices offered during this time. It is not required to join every activity to participate in the retreat. 

  • Monday morning: setting/remembering practice intention for the week, Friday morning: checking back on our practice during the week

  • Wednesday night 7-9pm 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. Please try to attend all 12 weeks as they are related to each other. 

  • Saturday morning 7-8:30am: interpreted dharma talk of Thay from Vietnamese


  • First Friday of the month - Be-In 

  • If you would like to learn to invite the bell, learn the morning chant or evening chant, offer mindful movements, songs, 5 contemplations for meals, or help us facilitate a session once or more during the rain retreat, feel free to email us at sugarplumsangha@gmail.comWe look forward to letting the refreshing dharma rain that we can create collectively together nourish our hearts and our community. 




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.

We maintain funds for a resident practitioner program, facilities improvements, and retreat scholarships thanks to donations. Donations are made to the Mariposa Institute 501(c)3 and are tax deductible.

Click to Donate

Or, you may mail a check made out to the Mariposa Institute to 3801 Low Gap Rd. Ukiah, CA 95482. Please write the fund you wish to donate to in the memo line.