By Natascha Bruckner
Practitioners in the Oak Grove Sangha found a joyful and delicious way to help Deer Park Monastery’s nunnery project last year. Led by Lan Nguyen-Huu—a long-time San Diego resident and charity organizer—they hosted a fundraising luncheon of home-cooked vegetarian food for three hundred guests.
Thay’s teachings were invaluable in the fundraising committee’s process. “I have done a lot of charity work, and of course people have disagreements,” reflected Lan Nguyen. “When we have Thay’s practice, we use loving speech to discuss our differences. We ring the bell and everyone is quiet. Everyone listens to each other.”
Hung Nguyen, a Dharma teacher and one of about thirty people who helped organize the event, explained that they met every week for three months beforehand. “We repeatedly went through brainstorming and planning to iron out roadblocks. Thay’s teaching on happiness in the present working moment was a valuable tool. In the end, our luncheon proved to be fertile soil to grow our practice as a community,” he said. “We all have a sense of realizing the interbeing nature of our young community.”
The luncheon took place at San Dieguito Park on September 10, 2014. Home-cooked Vietnamese food was provided by Sangha members who started cooking days in advance. Thanks to ticket sales and generous donations from Sangha members and their friends, the luncheon raised $52,000 for the nunnery.
Laura Hunter, a Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation board member, attended the luncheon. “Everyone came together—east, west, old, young, monastic, lay, all bound by a common love for the monastics and working in the direction of supporting the practice centers,” she said. “This had to be fundraising at its best! There was so much joy everywhere! I’m so grateful to our Vietnamese elders for arranging this event and carrying it off with such harmony and joy.”