Dharma Teachers

Reflections on the 50th Anniversary of MLK's Assassination

Hi Dear Friends,

50 years ago on this day, my heart broke.

the air thick with shock, sadness, and fear.

Fires burning, shouts and screams,

and yet the dead MLK was present.

Riding on the river of tears

Silence, I found my calling

Silence, I wrote my first sermon

Silence, I found my voice.

A few years ago at the Northridge campus of the University of California, I served on a panel with Reverend Lawson. Our topic was to describe our tradition's vision of a just society.

I remembered then a few villages in India that he visited while training in Gandhi's strategy of non-violence for social change. He is a fine man and a true pastor in his continued service to the world. To hear him speak of justice in economic, political and cultural dimensions makes my heart sing. Please enjoy the clip below.



Love Is All That Matters- The Life of Jayna Gieber

From Peggy:

I have sad news to share:  one of my great dharma sisters and friends on the path, Jayna Gieber passed at 12:30 AM on October 18th.  She was given a diagnosis on Friday October 13th of


pancreas cancer. Her family brought her home to her land in Battle Ground, Washington. She went into unconsciousness Saturday October 14th.  She made her transition with her beloved husband Jonny, daughters, granddaughters, cat and dog.  She died peacefully surrounded with love. The speed of her transition has as all stunned.  We are also grateful that spirit could carry her with such grace and ease.

Jayna Gieber

Jayna has Native American spiritual roots and has done training with Joanna Macy in addition to being a Reverend. She attended her first retreat with Thich Nhat Hanh in 2004 and she received the 5 Mindfulness Trainings in our tradition. She traveled to Vietnam with Thay in 2005 and she has attended the summer retreat in Plum Village. In 2005, Jayna was ordained into the Order of Interbeing by Thay and received the dharma name,

True Recollections of the Mindfulness Trainings

. She attended numerous retreats at Deer Park monastery and has participated in Oregon retreats and trainings with many dharma teachers including Larry and myself. She was one of the founders of the

Earth Holder Sangha

and has been in leadership in several sanghas in her area since 2004.

 Jayna practiced deeply with her despair and heart break connected with the ongoing destruction of Mother Earth. Through her practice she learned that she was called to serve as a minister in the climate activism movement.  She took her despair and moved it into spiritual activism. For the past 5 years, she was actively engaged in public outreach in Portland connected to deep ecology. This included public speaking, silent sits, peace marches and flash mob sits. In 2014 she was selected to be on Al Gore’s team and was trained in Climate Activitism and how to be an Eco Warrior. She and Jonny traveled to Rio de Janeiro for the training where the Gore organization recognized her as a minister and validated her own calling to lead short meditations and silent breaks at gatherings in South America as well as in Canada.

Jayna has celebrated over 35 years of sobriety. She was open and honest about her past experience with addiction and her transformative journey into healing and whole-ing.  Jayna previously survived breast and skin cancer and wrote a book, Snatched from the Fire ,about her life journey.  She was working on a book on her stories of being with Thich Nhat Hanh.

Jayna's native ceremonial name was Warm Nest Woman.

She did just that with her home and lodge - Crooked Kitty Ranch. 

This year I co-led a remarkable women’s retreat on her property. We had a wonderful group of women that collected for silent practice, prayers, and walks on the beautiful land at Jayna’s home. Jayna was very proud of the work that she and Jonny did with this land, planting over 1,000 trees and creating paths, meditation gardens, a sweat lodge and teaching cabins. They co- created a beautiful refuge that has been a place of comfort and healing for many practitioners.

We submitted her application for Dharma Teacher in our tradition and we received 6 letters from Dharma Teachers all in support of Jayna to receive the Dharma Lamp in 2018.

Brother Phap Ho, Abbot at Deer Park monastery, said: “I have been touched by Jayna’s openness, asking for input and guidance, as well as her deep aspiration to bring the issues of climate change, mindfulness practice and Sangha together. Jayna recognizes the fire energy in her relationship with her activism and has looked into this with the clear aspiration to practice peace is the way.

It seems that many people gravitate toward Jayna and during retreats here, I feel that she is an elder in our Order of Interbeing community”.

Dharma Teacher Barbara Casey of Washington offered that:

“I got to know Jayna when I mentored her to be ordained into the Order of Interbeing in 2004. She reminded me of our teacher, in that behind her gentle and deeply loving way was a fierce determination to care for all beings and especially Mother Earth. She held the promise of making things right so deeply in her heart that she inspired us to show up, ask the hard questions, and do the work of transformation.

She walked her path with courage, joy and wisdom. I have loved her for all these years and that love is now more precious than ever. “

I was a mentor and spiritual guide supporting Jayna for 13 years. I am heart broken and also filled with love of Jayna and for Jayna. Jayna was emotionally mature, wise, stable, kind and fun. She worked hard to transform her despair about climate change into spiritual activism. When she would run into a brick wall in life or in her practice, she would call and we would sit with these places. It has been my honor to have a friend that shared her highs, lows, challenges and delights.

Jayna and Jonny practice deeply with their love and they adored each other. They lived and loved beautifully, enjoying their two daughters and taking great delight in their granddaughters. I know her granddaughters will retain some of their adventures, as Jayna brought them to silent sits, peace marches, garden crafting, soap making, and all kinds of Sangha celebrations.

Jayna shared with her family last week: “I don’t want to leave you guys, but I am choosing to believe that I am not really leaving you”.  In her final days she also shared that “love is all that matters. I love everybody”.

Below is a short, 1 minute teaching from Jayna about creating community.

Thank you Jayna for your deep practice and your abiding love.

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!