Promising our Heart

We welcome Dharma Teacher and Lotus Institute Board member Karen Hilsberg to our blog. 

Karen is a Dharma Teacher in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh. She resides in Culver City, California. Her daughter, Emily is in college and son Ben will enter college this fall. 

Karen's words are below:

Karen and Brother Phai Hai sharing a dharma talk in March 2017

"I became involved with this project about a year ago when the Most Venerable Thich Phuoc Tinh asked for my assistance with editing the English version of his Vietnamese book on the Forty-two Chapter Sutra. I learned that the Forty-two Chapter Sutra is a well-known text in Vietnam and is taught in a two-year course to beginning monastics

. In this tradition, the Venerable taught a class on this sutra at Deer Park Monastery in Southern California around 2004-2005. It was initially offered only to monastics but in time he began to include lay friends in the course. When the course was done, he spent two years painstakingly transcribing the recorded talks and edited them into a book which was published under the title

Kinh Bon Muoi Hai Chuong

in Vietnamese in 2007. It took many more years for his students to translate this book into English and I am now in the process of editing it for Western readers. I hope to complete this project by the end of 2017. 

It is the Venerable’s sincere aspiration to share these important Buddhist teachings here in the West. What follows is the postscript of the book with some final thoughts about the sutra. 

May these teachings support you on your path of practice." - Karen

Venerable Thich Phuoc Tinh

Promising our Heart

The road from our first steps on a spiritual path to reaching the fruits of practice is a long course of training and hard work. Taming the mind is not a short-term project. That is why we have to promise ourselves that, in this life, we will consistently engage into our cultivation practice with our best efforts in order to accomplish the goal of enlightenment. We need to start with a strong and unwavering resolve that we can can transcend the cycle of birth and death within our current life. This is how we will reach our aspiration.

The noble

pursuit of mind training in order to transcend birth and death involves cascades of sweat, tears, heartache and suffering. But when we reach the final destination of our self-training and hit the finish line, we will suddenly discover that the moon in the night is still the very same one as we saw in the old days. It’s like this. Before a journey to set foot on the Lô Mountain, the traveler can’t wait to get there to admire the beauty of the scenery. When they do finally get there after a very long and arduous journey, they see nothing very interesting. In the morning, the mountain peaks are covered in fog.  At the foot of the mountain, the river endlessly and vigorously flows all day and all night. This experience was described beautifully by the poet

Tô Đông Pha

(in Chinese, Su Dongpo).

Fog hanging around the Lô Mountain and the Triết River,

I had dream after dream of going there one day.

But when I arrived, I was stunned, nothing was really very special,

Just fog surrounding the Lo mountain and waves of the Triet.

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- Excerpt from the forthcoming book entitled 

The Forty-two Chapter Sutra

 by Most Venerable Thich Phuoc Tinh. Translated from Vietnamese by Kim Dzung Pham. Edited in English by Karen Hilsberg 

Karen in a field

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