To be published in Winter/Spring 2019 issue
By Beth Howard
“Love will always take us where we want to go, whether it’s love of God or love of a dog.” These words end the prologue and begin Jane’s remarkable journey with her faithful canine companion, Serafina. We travel with them across the U.S. and then over the ocean to a melon farm in southern France near Plum Village, and on to Vietnam, Cambodia and beyond. This engaging tale brings you along for the adventure of a lifetime, and illustrates how spiritual practice encourages, supports and sustains us to live fully into our human lives. We see how, with practice, decades of suffering can be released and transformed to love and joy.
One element that drew me to the Plum Village tradition was the way in which Thich Nhat Hanh, monastic and lay teachers all used stories from their lives to illustrate the Buddhist teachings and share the Dharma. This made it not only an intellectual understanding, but a living Dharma, to practice and realize within my own life. Jane (who was previously known as Janelle) is a masterful storyteller and honors her teacher in this way. While sharing her own story, which is hard to put down, she seamlessly weaves through it the practices, teachings and insights that have supported and guided her along the path. She candidly shares both her challenges and successes, offering the reader opportunity for reflection on how fear might be limiting one’s own field of perception and possibility.
Time and again, Jane rests in the arms of the Sangha and seeks counsel from monastics and lay friends when she is feeling stuck or bewildered. This counsel in turn leads to some of her most profound insights. And what of Serafina? She is a loving companion and a faithful teacher throughout the entire book, appearing as both obstacle and opportunity, but ultimately offering the supreme lesson of interbeing that love never dies.
During a question and answer session at Plum Village, Jane asks Thay about his poetry and the place of art in the Dharma. Thay replies, “The Dharma is always shared in beauty. … Daily life, what we call the living Dharma, can be beautiful. … Every moment of our lives can become a tale, a story.” No Coming, No Going is Jane’s story and a beautiful offering of the Dharma with something for everyone.