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Fragrant Palm Leaves: Journals, 1962-1966 by…
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Fragrant Palm Leaves: Journals, 1962-1966

by Thich Nhat Hanh

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Personal/philosophical memoir from an historically significant period

- Somewhat confusing time sequence; no particular reason for start or end points

This early volume (published in Vietnamese in 1966 but not in the U.S. until 1998) chronicles several years of Thích Nhất Hạnh's young adulthood in the U.S. and Viet Nam against the larger backdrop of the war. It provides a glimpse of the early years of Engaged Buddhism and provides some insights into the polarization of Vietnamese society and the suspicion under which anyone critical of the government functioned. Sadly, this will not be foreign to contemporary Americans concerned about the U.S. government's contemporary actions.

The structure is nominally in journal format, but since it focuses on just a few topics, and includes long essays about previous events, it is best read and understood as a memoir rather than a day-to-day account of experiences and impressions. This combination of present and retrospective accounts is confusing at times, but this does not detract much from the overall positive impression made by the volume. For me, the accounts of daily life, contrasts between the U.S. and Vietnam, and relationships are by far the most interesting aspects of the narrative; the philosophical and poetic segments are less engaging and sometimes abstract and disassociated from the heart of the book.

A sometimes-intimate portrait of Thích Nhất Hạnh as a young monk that will increase the reader's appreciation for his courage, vision, and deep concern for justice and the dignity of all people.
( )
  OshoOsho | Mar 30, 2013 |
Fragrant Palm Leaves
Journals 1962-1966
by Thich Nhat Hanh

Though small in stature this author measure large to all who follow and love his simple style and loving words of wisdom. I have enjoyed his work for many many years, and this selection was no exception. Personal snippets of the man himself, at a time when the world was full of unrest and wonder.

Many talk of the Buddhist philosophy, but it is clear from reading the pages of this little enlightened blessing that Thich Nhat Hanh lives and breathes it. I have found what seemed to work best for me with this book was to just open the book and read the page it fell to, because it is usually just what I need at the right time. I would recommend this book to anyone, who would like a quieter mind and a simpler way of looking at things.

Love & Light,

Riki Frahmann ( )
  biunicorn | Mar 17, 2012 |
This book is a pleasure to read. It takes you to Vietnam, you can taste the humid air. ( )
  johnburton | Apr 22, 2011 |
A unique book, often extremely well written; one of the most intimate and honest works by any major Buddhist teacher, living or dead. Journal entries range widely, covering among many other things Thich Nhat Hanh's time studying and teaching at an American university, friendships with Vietnamese and westerners, the Vietnam War and his efforts to organise relief work, and his time in a secluded forest monastery.
  JamesBlake | Jun 15, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 157322796X, Paperback)

To many of his readers, Thich Nhat Hanh is a great inspiration, a model of both spiritual maturity and social responsibility. But his personal life has been a closed book--until now. Fragrant Palm Leaves is the first publication of Thich Nhat Hanh's journals, in this case, those centering around the most decisive period in his life. A young monk in a Zen Buddhist lineage, Nhat Hanh had aspirations of developing a Buddhism that was meaningful in the lives of everyday Vietnamese. The chaos of the Vietnam War ironically offered him the chance to move beyond the strictures of the conservative Buddhist establishment and initiate experimental villages as well as a university, but the same war also forced him from his homeland. In entries written in both Vietnam and America, we see an already seasoned Nhat Hanh thinking through the politics of his tradition, his close friendships and alliances, the future of Buddhism, and the way to bring peace to a war-ravaged time. We also witness his glimmerings of enlightenment and are treated to lyrical passages on the interbeing of all things. Fragrant Palm Leaves is a rare glimpse at a great human being in the making. --Brian Bruya

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:01:36 -0400)

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