World Religions

Fragrant Palm Leaves

Fragrant Palm Leaves

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Regarded by many as Thich Nhat Hanh's most personally revealing and endearing book, these collected journals chronicle the first-hand experiences of the Zen Master as a young man in both the United States and Vietnam, just as his home country is plunged into war and turmoil.

It isn't likely that this collection of journal entries, which I'm calling Fragrant Palm Leaves, will pass the censors... I'll leave Vietnam tomorrow. Thus Thich Nhat Hanh begins his May 11, 1966 journal entry. After leaving Vietnam, he was exiled for calling for peace, and was unable to visit his homeland again until 2004. In the interim, Thich Nhat Hanh continued to practice and teach in the United States and Europe, and became one of the world's most respected spiritual leaders.

But when these journals are written, all of that is still to come. Fragrant Palm Leaves reveals a vulnerable and questioning young man, a student and teaching assistant at Princeton and Columbia Universities from 1962-1963, homesick and reflecting on the many difficulties he and his fellow monks faced at home trying to make Buddhism relevant to the people's needs. We also follow Thich Nhat Hanh as he returns to Vietnam in 1964, and helps establish the movement known as Engaged Buddhism.

A rare window into the early life of a spiritual icon, Fragrant Palm Leaves provides a model of how to live fully, with awareness, during a time of change and upheaval.

Living Beautifully

Living Beautifully

$16.95
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The best-selling author and spiritual teacher shares practices for living with wisdom and integrity even in confusing and uncertain situations.

Is it possible to live well when the very ground we stand on is shaky? Yes, says everyone's favorite Buddhist nun, it's even possible to live beautifully, compassionately, and happily on shaky ground--and the secret is: the ground is always shaky. Pema shows how using a traditional Buddhist practice called the Three Vows or Three Commitments, offering us a way to relax into profound sanity in the midst of whatever non-sanity is happening around us. Just making these simple aspirations can change the way we look at the world and can provide us with a lifetime of material for spiritual practice.

The Three Commitments are three methods for embracing the chaotic, uncertain, dynamic, challenging nature of our situation as a path to awakening. The first of the commitments, traditionally called the Pratimoksha Vow, is the foundation for personal liberation. This is a commitment to doing our best to not cause harm with our actions or words or thoughts, a commitment to being good to each other. It provides a structure within which we learn to work with our thoughts and emotions, and to refrain from speaking or acting out of confusion. The next step toward being comfortable with groundlessness is a commitment to helping others, traditionally called the Bodhisattva Vow. It is a commitment to dedicate our lives to keeping our hearts and minds open, and nurturing our compassion with the longing to ease the suffering of the world. The last of the three commitments, traditionally known as the Samaya Vow, is a resolve to embrace the world just as it is, without bias; a resolve to see everything we encounter, good and bad, pleasant and painful, as a manifestation of awakened energy. It is a commitment to see everything and anything as a means by which we can awaken further.