Vajrapani Institute
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Compassionate Conversations

Event Description

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An interfaith retreat exploring approaches to spiritual and personal transformation. In this weekend of dialogue and exploration, we will learn about and experience the transformative techniques practiced by the followers of these religions, and find the intersecting spaces and common ground in these faith traditions.


August 10 – 13, 2017


All Levels

Silence Level


What is it?

Experienced teachers from each of these religious traditions will gather during this weekend to share various practices and communicate together in interfaith dialogue. All of these teachers are highly respected in their traditions, as well as having experience being involved in interfaith dialogue.

  • To create an opportunity for positive personal interactions between practitioners of different faiths
  • To foster more communication and understanding among practitioners of different faiths
  • To experience transformational practices of other religions
Additional Information

If you are interested in serving as Course Liaison for this retreat, please apply here.

  • 10 August 2017 to 13 August 2017

Already Registered? Prepare for your Group Retreat Want to offer Service? Volunteer to be Course Liaison

Teacher Bio


Venerable Tenzin Chogkyi

Venerable Tenzin Chogkyi became interested in meditation after reading Be Here Now and Autobiography of a Yogi in the early 1970s. For the next 20 years, she describes her spiritual path as meandering and haphazard that included several dead ends. In early 1991, she she bought a one-way ticket to India with the intention of meeting His Holiness the Dalai Lama. In late 1991, she became co-director of Vajrapani Institute in California. In 1995, she began working at FPMT International Office, first as co-director and then later as center services coordinator.In early 2000, Venerable Tenzin began a long, solitary retreat that lasted 6½ years. She decided to become ordained in the third year of her long retreat and left retreat for a quick trip to India in 2004 for novice ordination with His Holiness. Since 2008, she has been teaching at various centers worldwide. Most recently, she was the resident teacher at Gendun Drugpa center in Canada and is now resident teacher at Vajrapani Institute.

Rabbi Diane Elliot

Rabbi Diane Elliot loves to dance, draw, write poems, sing, and stand on the earth.Rabbi Diane is a spiritual teacher, dancer and somatic therapist, inspires her students to become clearer channels for Divine Light through awareness and movement practices, chant, and nuanced interpretations of Jewish sacred text. Founder of Wholly Present, A Center for Embodied Spiritual Practice, she was ordained at the Academy for Jewish Religion, California, in 2006, and before that worked for many years as an internationally known modern dance performer, choreographer, and a teacher of Body-Mind Centering®. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, she served as spiritual leader of the Aquarian Minyan from 2007-2009 and now teaches locally and nationally through ALEPH Alliance for Jewish Renewal, Ruach Ha-Aretz, and The Awakened Heart Project.Rabbi Diane also maintains a body-based spiritual direction practice, leads Jewish meditation retreats, and is the author of numerous articles, essays, and poems. Her wise, loving presence creates a safe space for those who wish to explore spirituality individually and in community. For more information about Rabbi Diane, see

Pastor Steve Harms

Rev. Steve Harms, M.Div., MA in Theatre Arts:  Ministry has taken Pastor Steve from the Night Ministry streets of the Tenderloin in San Fransisco to suburban Danville and to congregational Partnerships in Nicaragua and South Africa.  He has served as adjunct faculty at 2 seminaries.  He is the former President of the Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County and remains deeply engaged in interfaith connections/development.  He is a teacher of Tai Chi Chuan.  He co-created with a qiqong master the “Abba-Imma Qiqong Lord’s Prayer” which unites Judeo-Christian and Taoist wisdom and compassion.  He has a passion for justice advocacy, creative liturgies and is the founder of the Jazz Church West.  In 2015 he Co-Chaired the UN 70th Anniversary Celebrations at the United Nations in New York and Grace Cathedral in San Francisco.  He and Bev have 3 adult sons.  Pastor Steve is currently the Senior Pastor at Peace Lutheran Church ( in Danville.

Sister Rabi’a Keeble

Sister Rabi’a Keeble lives in Oakland, California and is the founder of Qal'bu Maryam Women's Mosque. Rabi'a draduated from Starr King school for the ministry which is part of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. She also has a graduate certificate in Islamic studies from GTU, and a grad certificate in African American Religion. Her Masters is in Social Justice and Religious Leadership.

Rabi’a is an avid writer, activist, and speaker. She is a delegate to the democratic state convention, representing District 18 in Oakland, California under Assemblyman Rob Bonta. Rabi’a is a convert to Islam for 15 years. She always was an avid mosque attendee, and enjoyed being part of the larger Muslim community in the Bay Area. She calls herself a JAM, “Just a Muslim”. She is a feminist or more appropriately a “womanist”, believing that as a woman of color the usual feminist narrative cannot represent appropriately the problems of the woman of color in America. She enjoys reading, writing, and cooking.


There are no fees for this retreat.

That’s right. No fees. The retreat is offered to anyone who participates. It’s an experiment we started at 2012’s Kopan West- Lam Rim retreat in the spirit of making the dharma freely available to all.

If it is being offered, who pays for my retreat?

Your retreat has been sponsored by someone who came before you and by past benefactors. Because it’s a gift, you can’t pay them back – but you can pay-it-forward by making a contribution that will allow future retreatants to experience the same generosity.

How does this donation system work?

At the end of the retreat, you will have the opportunity to make a donation based on what feels right in your heart. 100% of the proceeds will go towards supporting future retreatants to keep the generosity going. No pressure or questions asked. Let your heart decide what you would like to offer.

Is there a deposit?

A $150 deposit is required to reserve a space. Your deposit will be refunded as long as you attend the retreat. No refunds for cancellations.

How do I choose the accommodation?

Once you start the registration process, you’ll see details of the accommodation that are available from camping to dorm to private rooms. All accommodation is made available on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Is partial attendance allowed? 

In order to provide the most conducive conditions for retreat, we hold full time, residential retreats only.  This allows the group energy to build and minimizes distractions, so you can gain the full benefit of retreat.  See our retreat philosophy and FAQ for more information. Some exceptions can be made for special circumstances and will need the approval of the teacher and our Community Relations Coordinator (CRC) before the retreat begins. Please contact our office at