Lotus News

Back from Bangkok!

Dear Lotus Friends,

We held you in our hearts as we facilitated our most recent retreat in Bangkok. A deep bow to all of you.

Around 100 medical professionals gathered for 3 days on "The Science of Compassion:The Art of Healing".

Retreat Center in the sunshine

Retreat Center and Lotus Pond Close-up

The retreat was deep and lovely for all, expressed in the following comments:

Dear Peggy and Larry,

It's good to know you arrived home safely. We had our 'after action meeting' last evening; we took time to reflect, share and review feedback all of us were personally very moved by the retreat and by the amazing feedback from participants.

We felt that both of your teaching was very deep and characterized by simplicity and direct concreteness which allows it to enter into us (and this is supported by participant feedback)

on reflection, we all agreed that the retreat felt very much like a collective experience, where we all flowed together flexibly and smoothly as a river, watering many, many good seeds in all of us, “embodied dharma; responsive dharma; practical dharma.” We're working on plans for next steps.

Ben

Ben and other sweet participants at the retreat

Here are some more images from the retreat. Please enjoy!

Sharing the stage with another wise dharma teacher

Peggy being wonderful

Dessert Bangkok style!

A flower for you

Best To You Dear Friend,

Larry

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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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!