Jane Merit Hulshoff-Pol: One Delightful Dharma Friend and Amazing Teacher

Jane Merit Hulshoff-Pol

Our dear Dharma friend Jane Merit Hulshoff-Pol made her transition Saturday, April 8 in Faro, Portugal. Her beloved husband, Look was at her bedside. Jane and Look are long time disciples of Thich Nhat Hanh and Dharma Teachers in Portugal. Larry and I met Jane and Look at Plum Village more than 20 years ago. They are beloved Dharma Teachers and they are well-known throughout Europe for their deep practice of generosity and Sangha building. They spent time every year at Lower Hamlet in Plum Village. They had a small camper van that was a famous drop in place for all of us.

Jane and Look and their camper van

I wanted to share a few things about Jane's life.  I know not all of you had the pleasure of meeting her. We can learn so much from a life well-lived.

Jane was born and bred in New York City. She was an amazing flutist and was accepted at Juilliard, although she didn't attend. Jane became devoted to finding a healing path for her lifetime autoimmune illness through lifestyle, diet and spirituality. Her own challenges and suffering made her the amazing friend and teacher that we love so much.

Younger Jane

According to her friend Gretchen Burkholder from Vashon, Washington,"Jane could really listen and be present with whomever she was with.  She offered her wisdom, compassion and sharp wit.  She could really make me laugh. When we would be sharing our latest woes or challenges, she would bring her life's wisdom and dharma into the conversation. And, then she would break out in her best New York accent and say, "Basically, life sucks and then we die!"

Jane fell in love with Look and moved to Holland in the early 1980's. During that time, she worked in writing, thesis and article editing, and taught English conversation lessons.

Gretchen shared  that "Jane sought me out in a nearby town to find "the other macrobiotic American" that she got wind of.  Together they started a small coffee shop. Gretchen said "Jain was the brain and I was the muscle --meaning that she created the business and I just did the baking. As with everything Jane did, she did it with good taste and style".

Gretchen and I both shared stories about Jane's embodied sense of elegance and style.  About 15 years ago at Plum Village, we had a retreat wear style show that reflected both wit and elegance. I have attached a photo of Jane and myself to give you an idea of how she rocked the brown jacket.

Peggy and Jane in the brown jackets

In Holland, she transformed her house in Weisbaden, a village near Arnhem, into a beautiful and elegant home. When the cold weather became too much for he health, Jane and Look moved to Faro, Portugal in the late 1990's and she also created an incredible home and B & B there. I know that many monastics and sangha members stayed with them at Faro. We agreed that she could have worked for

House Beautiful.

At the 2015 21-day retreat, Jane and I co-led a workshop on trauma. She is a remarkable teacher and I learned a lot teaching with her. I witnessed the power of her ability to listen in such a way that healing happened right away. She truly was an exquisite teacher.

Dr. Ava Avalos is an Order of Interbeing member that lives in Botswana. She offered, "Jane was my true Plum Village friend and we loved each other from the beginning. I met her on my very first visit to PV 15 years ago when we were in the same Dharma family. Then, every visit, she was there. I am so happy to have known her and I am so sad".

Jane and Look have beat the Dharma drum beautifully and they are both wise and much loved disciples of our teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh. We have appreciated their presence as wise elder teachers and as delightful and trusted friends on the path. I will especially miss laughing with Jane. She could always turn a difficult moment into a smiling moment. When we last talked, she thought that the 2015 21-day retreat would be her last. I am so sorry that she was correct.

We love you Jane!  Thank you!