My Journey with Deer Park

Patricia Garcia

My name is Peaceful Resolve of the Heart, yet some may know me as Patricia in the Registration Office. I first visited Deer Park Monastery for a weekend retreat in January 2006. I suppose you could say I enjoyed the meals on the retreat. As I drove home from the monastery, the thought crossed my mind, “I could be vegetarian for the rest of the weekend.” My next thought was, “I could be vegetarian for the rest of my life!” And I became a vegetarian on my ride home from the monastery.

It wasn’t only the food at Deer Park that impressed me. Although I lived in Orange County, I became a regular guest at Days of Mindfulness and other events. On one visit to the monastery, I went to the bookshop and asked Sister Ho Nghiem a question about the root temple in Vietnam. The Sister asked me if I planned to follow Thay (our Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh) on his next pilgrimage to Vietnam. Not having heard of the trip before that moment, I said, “Maybe.”

It turned out that the trip to Vietnam was several months in the future. I had time to attend the trip planning meetings and take the trip! During the months of preparation, I continued to visit Deer Park. On one Day of Mindfulness, Sister Susan told me that there was going to be a transmission of the Five Mindfulness Trainings and asked if I wanted to join. Desperate for a way out of the transmission (wasn’t I already failing to follow the Ten Commandments?), I asked, “Aren’t they going to do that on the Vietnam trip?” And then added something like, “I’ll probably do that in Vietnam.”

In the time leading up to the trip, I learned more about the Five Mindfulness Trainings. They weren’t five scary commandments condemning me to the hell realms. The trainings were based on five precepts that the Buddha had given his students so that they could live a happier life. Learning that the trainings were less threatening than I previously believed, I decided that I would take the Five Mindfulness Trainings transmission if offered in Vietnam — with the secret caveat that I would drop them like Five Hot Potatoes if my life wasn’t happier in the space of one year!

So it was. In 2007, I was part of the delegation that followed Thay on pilgrimage to Vietnam. At the root temple, I received the transmission of the Five Mindfulness Trainings with the Dharma name, Peaceful Resolve of the Heart. Without knowing it, my life was about to change for the better. I never looked back. And I never checked a calendar to see when my one year of practicing the trainings was up. When I applied myself to the trainings, my life became unquestionably happier from that day forward.

After the pilgrimage, my journey with Deer Park continued. With an official start date in January 2009, I began working in the Deer Park Monastery Registration Office, where I still work today. In 2011, I moved into the monastery gatehouse. Due to these favorable conditions, it has been my honor to attend Wednesday night class at the monastery with the Most Venerable Thich Phuoc Tinh for over 10 years. Thank you to Sister Kinh Nghiem and Sister Man Nghiem for the many years of out- of-this-world translation!

Dear Respected Thay, Dear Esteemed Venerable, Dear Honorable Deer Park Monastery, you have shown me the path of liberation in its deep intricacy and beautiful simplicity. My hope is to repay you by living the teachings of true love and liberation to the best of my capacity. From the bottom of my heart, I bow to you in gratitude.


6 responses to “My Journey with Deer Park”

  1. Thank you so much for the moving account of your experience being introduced to deer park sangha and teachings- and transmission, (wow). 💐🍃

  2. Thank you for sharing your story! I have met you and spoken with you many times, but never knew much about you until now. Your story is inspiring!

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