Retreat begins at 6pm Thur. Sept. 5 and ends at 1:30pm on Sunday, Sept. 8

Compassionate Conversations: Growing into Forgiveness-an Interfaith Spiritual Retreat


led by Venerable Tenzin Chogkyi, Rabbi Diane Elliot, and Pastor Steve Harms 

All the major spiritual traditions value the quality of forgiveness alongside those of compassion and loving-kindness. But what is forgiveness? How is it possible to forgive those who have harmed us, and does forgiveness mean we just accept situations passively and condone harm? What is the role of forgiveness for those who feel called to social justice activism? How can we forgive ourselves for the harm that we have done?

Forgiveness is a practice, and a process. Without forgiveness, it can be difficult to open our hearts fully to others, and to ourselves.

In this retreat, the fourth in the annual “Compassionate Conversations” series, Venerable Tenzin Chogkyi, Rabbi Diane Elliot, and Pastor Steve Harms serve as your guides while, together, we mine the wisdom of three spiritual traditions—Buddhism, Christianity, and Judaism. Each path offers a wealth of teachings and practices to help us refine our moral compass and grow the awareness, consistency, creativity, and kindness we need to meet the spiritual and practical challenges of our times. Our time together will include meditation and movement, singing and prayer, textual study and sacred ritual, focused conversation, art-making, silence, and rest. See full retreat schedule below.

About Compassionate Conversations:

“Compassionate Conversations” is a consortium of spiritual teachers and practitioners, situating ourselves in different faith traditions (or none). Honoring the particular wisdom of our varied lineage paths, we come together with a commitment to listening deeply, sharing practices, engaging in thoughtful conversations, expanding our awareness, and growing our capacities for kindness and understanding. We come together to enhance our humanness, to celebrate our uniqueness while uncovering what we share in common, and to bring healing, joy, and connectivity into our broken and suffering world.

Venerable Tenzin Chogkyi 

 Venerable Tenzin Chogkyi first became interested in meditation and Buddhism after reading Be Here Now and early translations of Buddhist sutras in the early 1970s. Then in early 1991 she became a student of Tibetan Buddhism, studying in India and Nepal with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche and Lama Zopa Rinpoche.

Venerable Tenzin was director of Vajrapani Institute, co-director the FPMT International Office, and coordinator of FPMT Center Services from 1992 to 2000. She also completed several long meditation retreats over a six-year period.

Venerable Tenzin took novice ordination in 2004 with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. In 2006 she became a touring teacher in the FPMT, teaching at various centers around the world, as well as visiting prisons on behalf of the Liberation Prison Project.

Venerable Tenzin is authorized by the FPMT to teach at both the foundational and in-depth levels, as well as teaching the a.r.t. of Fulfillment, Cultivating Emotional Balance (a secular program developed by Alan Wallace and Paul Ekman) and Compassion Cultivation Training, a program developed by Geshe Thubten Jinpa and colleagues at Stanford University. She has been one of the resident teachers at Land of Medicine Buddha since August 2018.

Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Rabbi Diane Elliot is a spiritual teacher, ritual leader, dancer, writer, and somatic therapist who inspires her students to become clearer channels for Presence through awareness and movement practices, dance, chant, and Rabbi Diane Elliotnuanced interpretations of Jewish sacred text. For six years she directed ALEPH’s Embodying Spirit, En-spiriting Body training program, and she continues to work to bring the essential wisdom of the Jewish path to diverse Jewish and interfaith groups. To learn more about her and her work, visit

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.

Retreat Schedule

Thursday, Sept 5

4:00 pm to 6:00 pm Check in

6:00 pm to 7:00 pm Dinner

7:00 pm to 8:30 pm    Introductory Session – all of us together

Friday, Sept 6

7:00 am to 8:00 am Meditation/prayer: Ven. Tenzin

8:00 am to 9:00 am Breakfast

9:15 am to 11:15 am Rabbi Diane

11:15 am to 11:30 am Tea break

11:30 am to 12:30 pm Ven. Tenzin

12:30 pm to 3:00 pm Lunch and break

3:00 pm to 4:00 pm Discussion groups

4:00 pm to 4:30 pm Tea break

4:30 pm to 5:30 pm Discussion group debrief and Q&A

5:30 pm to 6:00 pm Shabbat ritual

6:00 pm to 7:00 pm Dinner

7:00 pm to 9:00 pm Singing/chanting

Saturday, Sept 7

7:00 am to 8:00 am Meditation/prayer: Rabbi Diane

8:00 am to 9:00 am Breakfast

9:15 am to 10:15 am Ven. Tenzin

10:15 am to 10:30 am Tea break

10:30 am to 12:30 pm Pastor Steve

12:30 pm to 3:00 pm Lunch and break

3:00 pm to 4:45 pm Collage session

4:45 pm to 5:00 pm Tea break

5:00 pm to 6:00 pm Collage sharing and discussion

6:00 pm to 7:00 pm Dinner

7:00 pm to 9:00 pm Sharing from participants

9:00 pm to 9:15 pm Havdalah ritual to end Shabbat

Sunday, Sept 8

7:00 am to 8:00 am Meditation/prayer: TBA

8:00 am to 9:00 am Breakfast

9:15 am to 10:20 am Final teaching/meditation

10:20 am to 10:40 am Tea Break

10:40 am to 11:30 am All of us together for closing se


12:30 pm to 1:30 pm Lunch

Date(s): Retreat begins at 6pm Thur. Sept. 5 and ends at 1:30pm on Sunday, Sept. 8
Times: 6:00 pm - 1:30 pm
Instructor/Leader: Pastor Steve Harms, Rabbi Dianne Elliot, Ven. Tenzin Chogkyi
Type of event:
Number of sessions: Multiple days
Level: Open to all
Participation: Open to all
Location: Pine Room
iCal Link: iCal
Add to Google Calendar: 0

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