review The Novice A Story of True Love 103

Thich Nhat Hanh Ý 3 read

Readers to embark on their own path of introspection and self discoveryWith his trademark insight Hanh presents a path to greater awareness of the means to manifest peace both inside oneself and in the world at lar Unfortunately I have to agree with some of the reviewers that this book The Problem of the Puer Aeternus (Studies in Jungian Psychology by Jungian Analysts, 87) reviewers that this book

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The Novice A Story of True Love

Ndaries of faith creed country and eraThrough the parable of a young woman who stays true to herself and her faith in the face of adversity Vietnamese Zen Buddhist master and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh enables A book filled with gentle wisdom and true compassion A small life faith

characters The Novice A Story of True Love

Fans of Thich Nhat Hanh’s Peace is Every Step and Anger and Deepak Chopra’s Buddha will appreciate Hanh’s wisdom and storytelling in his novel The Novice which contains universal themes that transcend all bou If Buddhism or Guan Yin are not of interest to you then a two or three


10 thoughts on “The Novice A Story of True Love

  1. says:

    It is amazing how a book sometimes finds it way to you when you need it most I've read other books by Thich Nhat Hanh so I knew this would be a great story but I didn't expect it to have such an impact on me I read it in one sitting I needed to be reminded of how important it is to forgive The story line is simple and yet so thought provoking A young woman who wishes to be a buddhist monk disguises herself as a young man and becomes a novice Another young woman in the village accuses the monk of raping her and inpregnating her Further complicating matters the monk then begins raising the baby allegedly conceived by the rape If the monk reveals her secret she will no longer be able to be a monk and achieve the buddha nature she so longs for If she says nothing then she tacitly endorses injustice and the false accusation I won't tell the whole story here In addition to being a wonderfully simple story that is well written this reminds each of us to reflect on the daily injustices judgements and wrongs that occur in our daily lives It helps us to understand how we can respond to such issues tactfully with grace and in such a way that order is restored This book is a lovely way to introduce yourself or someone else to the Buddhist concepts of loving kindness and compassion


  2. says:

    I stumbled upon this book because I'm planning a short story collection based on Vietnamese folk stories and renovated operas centered around women and wanted to see if anyone had written a story about uan Am Thi Kinh in English yet I was pleasantly surprised to find that one had been written by Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh whose name is famous within the Buddhist community I ordered it immediately The volume is thin but packs a punch Anyone looking for a bit of spiritual wisdom will benefit greatly from reading this Having grown up around the Thi Kinh legend I didn't think this would be anything new On some levels it's not the story is well known and this version doesn't mess TOO much with the original material However Thich Nhat Hanh pays attention to all the minor characters that one doesn't really hear much about in most retellings and does so in a compassionate way that highlights their humanity In reading this one should keep in mind that the author is not a novelist and that the book's purpose is to convey Buddhist teachings to the reader There's a lot of explanation about the teachings of Buddha the writing style is pretty basic and it can be a tedious read for someone who reads a lot of good fiction You likely won't find anything very commendable about the prose itself; it's the lessons one learns from the book that are important I definitely struggled to read through it because it was so preachy but I was glad I did read it Overall a good book to read if you're curious about Buddhism but can't stomach nonfiction I am not very religious but I felt significantly reverent after reading this book


  3. says:

    If Buddhism or Guan Yin are not of interest to you then a two or three star rating would be in order The story of Kinh Tam and how she became known as uan Am Thi Kinh Guan Yin is elaborated on by Thich Nhat Hanh in an uncomplicated easy manner as if he were talking to young people This teaching style is deceptively simple because it covers several Buddhist principals I was surprised at the end of the story when I had tears in my eyes I'm not sure where the tears came from though I suspect that at least in part they were stimulated by my attempts to grasp the true meaning or what it is like to accept all people whether they let you down falsely accuse you belittle you ignore you treat you like a non person and Kinh Tam who experienced those judgments from others was able to maintain euanimity towards all beings by practicing Buddhist principles of compassion and non judgment The 100 page story was followed by an essay by Sister Chan Khong an expatriate Vietnamese Buddhist nun and peach activist who has worked closely with Thich Nhat Hanh for over 50 years Part of the essay includes examples of how Vietnamese Buddhist monastics and social workers were discriminated against and even murdered by those in power in both the 1960s and the 2000s There is a brief essay at the end of the book by Thich Nhat Hahn where he explains how no matter what is happening to us from the outside we can always find refuge in the true home within ourselvesThis book is obviously not for everyone though I would recommend it to those whose curiosity has been aroused Here is a link that discusses Guan Yin


  4. says:

    A Young woman Kinh Tam who wishes to be a Buddhist monk disguises herself as a young man and becomes a novice Another young woman Thi Mau in the village accuses the monk of having a sexual affair that made her pregnant If the monk reveals her secret she will no longer be able to be a monk and achieve the Buddha nature she so longs for If she says nothing then she tacitly endorses injustice and the false accusation As intriguing as it may sound the rest of the story doesn't really resonate with the story conflict Infact it is of a series of events that follow the secret life of Kinh Tam On top of that the Buddhist literature the mantras chants My personal favourite The Great Bell Chant which you will find in Youtube TNH tried to forcefully infuse into the story feels on the nose and out of place at times But having said so there is something profound about the book that struck a chord in me especially the bonus insight towards the end Its relevance was only clear to me after reading it; the suppression of Buddhist religious leaders and followers by Police force local Communists back in 1960s and how Thay and his student monks endured and fought back with loving kindness and inclusiveness that resonated loudly in the bookThis is a small book with a powerful message which is may well very relevant to our times Despite the shortcomings in its writing I still feel it's a beautiful read 45 This World doesn't need successful people The World desperately needs peacemakers healers restorers storytellers and lovers of all kindsDalai Lama


  5. says:

    A book filled with gentle wisdom and true compassion A small life faithfully lived made large by the transforming power of love Brief though it may be this story is not allegory or parable or empty didacticism The characters breathe with their own life and truth and the power and relevance of their choices come holistically through the telling Yet the greatest treasure is probably Sister Chan Kong's summary of Thich Nhat Hanh's life which follows the narrative and lends depth and credibility to the truth it contains the hope that it offersAs a final note I find Thich Nhat Hanh's complete disregard for gender utterly refreshing A soul is a soul is a soul There is an unaffected egalitarianism in his writing and teaching that one rarely finds within the leaders of my own tradition something I find myself thirsting for desperately


  6. says:

    I like the way the story of Kinh is told in a simple clear and charming style A child at any age as well as an adult can read or hear this story and enjoy it just as much Because I am an Easterner I can relate to that village girl Kinh and know how she exactly must have felt having to deal with frustrated hopes and aspirations and her only problem is that she is a girl in an Eastern society I like the spiritual nuggets spread here and there as I keep reading the story A story is meant to be a story not a religion lesson and indeed Thich does a marvelous job at that Only Thích Nhất Hạnh has the amazing ability to teach you Buddhism through a story like this without letting you feel that you are being taught He is just having conversation and when he speaks he does indeed speak to your heartEven though the novice Kinh Tam is falsely accused and beaten to the point of bleeding he is able to maintain such carefree and tranuil composure What was his secret? It is because he has learnt and is applying the practice of inclusiveness that he is able to avoid into falling into suffering and reproach Practicing magnanimity brings us away from the shore of sorrows and over to the shore of freedom and happiness Our goal is to be clear minded and those who are caught in cravings are no longer clear minded We have to magnanimously persevere and then our hearts and minds will be at peace See the collection on the Sixth Paramitas When we truly practice looking deeply then we have a chance to understand better and to be accepting Our hearts naturally open up becoming vast like the oceans and rivers In understanding the sorrows and difficulties of others we are able to accept and feel compassion for them even if they have caused us difficulties treated us unfairly brought disaster on us or unjustly harrassed us Am I like the Earth which uietly receives everything without feelings of pride grievance or being humiliated? The Earth has the embracing capacity and has the ability to receive and transform whatever it takes in Is my heart mind boundlessly immense like water? Do I have the ability to receive and transform all injustices and grievances?


  7. says:

    Unfortunately I have to agree with some of the reviewers that this book's writing is somewhat off putting TNH is one of my favorite authors and I understand that this is meant as a Buddhist lesson But still I could never really get into the story because of the writing so I might not have learned the lesson as well as I was supposed to Not a bad book per se but I would basically recommend any other book by TNH rather than this one


  8. says:

    It is not a grand literary read However it is very peaceful and uick and easy One of those reads that really helps bring peace to the mindAnd it's great because one gets to learn about Vietnamese folk lore I love to learn things


  9. says:

    This book is a retelling of the old and very well known Vietnamese folk tale of uan The Am also known as Guan Yi in Chinese and Kannon in Japanese uan Am in Vietnamese means to observe or listen deeply to the sounds or cries of the world She is an important bodhisattva or enlightened being in BuddhismTold simply and with great feeling by Thich Nhat Hanh we are taught the Buddhist principles of compassion and loving kindnessI would now like to own a copy of this book and read it to my children These are timely lessons for me personally and for all of us to be reminded of over and over again It certainly inspires me to learn of and do Buddhist practice I would recommend this book to allI loved the translations of the names and the following passagesKinh Reverence was a daughter of the Ly Plum family By the time she was 24 years old she had studied Buddhism had been married had been accused of attempted murder had disguised herself as a young man in order to be ordained and had been accused of breaking her monastic vows in sleeping with the daughter of the richest family in the village making her pregnantWhen she was seven years old her parents had another child a boy they named Chau JewelEven though she had been accepted to the university she obeyed her parents and married at age 19 Thien Si Good Scholar While Kinh was polite composed and sociable she was no pushover p 9 Thien Si on the other hand Thien Si while intelligent gentle and did well in his studies was a bit oversensitive tended to indulge himself and was not very strong or stable mentally p 12One evening while Thien Si was studying and Kinh was reading Thien Si fell asleep and Kinh noticed his beard needed a trim She took her sewing scissors to trim a few hairs just as Thien Si woke up He was terrified and he screamed His parents wouldn't listen to Kinh's explanation accused her of trying to murder their son and turned her out Years later during her meditation practice Kinh thought back to the critical moment of the accusation of attempted murder Thien Si was sitting there wanting to say something but he was ultimately unable to voice his thoughts He was about to lose his wife yet he could not take charge of the situation or even make any decision at all His parents resolved to send their daughter in law away How could he oppose them? Kinh had tried to change the situation but could not In returning home Kinh had felt uite light in heart and mind not holding any grudge toward Thien Si At the same time Kinh did not have much respect for him and without respect marital love simply could not survive p 75Her first teacher was Bai Bowing After she married she resigned herself to continue her education by self study at home p 10 Bai loaned her many books on Buddhism which was new to Vietnam She read the classical Confucian Four Books and Five Classics and also had access to religious books The greatest fortune in her life was that she had the chance to read the sutra texts of the Buddha She read The Sutra of Forty Two Chapters The Prajnaparamita in Eight Thousand Lines The Collection on the Six Paramitas by Zen Master Tang Hoi and Dispelling Doubts by Mouzi Teacher Bai also introduced her to Buddhist monks who so impressed her that she wished she could study in a monastery She knew it was impossible though because temples for nuns did not existWhile reading the sutra on the six perfections Kinh was often moved to tears She learned of the Buddha's life and of the practices of the six perfections generosity mindfulness trainings inclusiveness magnanimity diligence meditation and insight The monastic life appealed so much to her She saw that a monastic's heart was filled with the abundant energy of love compassion inclusiveness and diligence She regretted that she had not been born a boy and thus able to live this beautiful way of life p 11 12Even though she had done her best to be an ideal daughter in law her marriage had ended so she wrote a letter to her parents packed her bags disguised herself as a young man and went in search of a temple Seven days later she arrived at Dharma Cloud Temple in Giao Chi district The beautiful landscape surrounding the temple was peaceful and calming The abbot was teaching an audience of about three hundred people gathered there Everyone was listening attentively and with much respect as the abbot taught about the four factors of true love also known as the Four Immeasurable Minds loving kindness compassion joy and euanimity p 25 Afterwards she spoke with the abbot who agreed to let herhim practice at his temple as a novice in training for a trial period of three monthsThe two novices currently practicing at Dharma Cloud Temple were Chi Tam Heart of Aspiration and Thanh Tam Sincere Heart Kinh became their younger brother Her handwriting drew praise from them and her comments during discussions about the teachings earned her much respect from them Yet Kinh always remained very humble p 29Three months later during the annual commemoration of the Buddha's birth Kinh was formally ordained taking on the ten vows and the shaven head of a novice Thus cleanly shaven and clothed in a dark brown robe of a monk the newly ordained novice manifested the deeper beauty of a monastic radiating so much brightness and freshness The abbot gave the new novice the Dharma name Kinh Tam Reverent Heart p 29Thi Mau Wondrous was the daughter of the richest family in the village where Dharma Cloud Temple was She fell in love with Kinh Tam the novice and her love uickly became an obsessive craving She tried to spend time alone with him but Kinh Tam was aware of her intentions and avoided her Kinh tam was fully engaged in observing the precepts and fine manners of a novice monk which included not befriending and conversing with women alone in secluded places The novice's deepest desire was to continue practicing as a monastic This kind of desire is known as bodhicitta the mind of bodhisattvas of awakened beings the mind of love This is love that contains the spirit of kindness compassion joy and euanimity; it is not a sentimental tragic obsessive or sensual kind of love To love according to the teachings of the Buddha is to have compassion for and to relieve the miseries of all who suffer miseries due to sensual desires hatred ignorance envy arrogance and doubtfulness p 38Distraught that Kinh Tam wouldn't spend time with her Thi Mau thoughtlessly seduced their servant a joyless experience and find herself pregnant and unmarried At first she wouldn't tell anyone who the father was but then promised that if she told the father would be forced to marry her she accused Kinh Tam who was beaten severely when he denied transgressing his vows Abruptly Thi Mau screamed She stood up walked toward the mat and bellowed Go on hitting keep striking the blows and don't stop till he dies And how about me? Strike me as well Hit me till I also die Thi Mau tore at her clothes beat her hands on her head and pounded her chest p 50King Tam knew that revealing the truth would stop the physical abuse and correct the injustice but also that the truth would bring an immediate end to the novice's monastic life in the temple The happiness of living that life was so enormous that Kinh Tam just could not part with it Better to endure extreme pain and public scorn in order to retain the delight of living as a monastic p 57 58Kinh Tam was saved by her abbot reciting a verse that moved the entire public She was taken home and allowed to heal She and her brother monks took to heart the advice from their abbot to do the practice of acknowledging faults and beginning anew daily They falsely accused me; they reviled me and misunderstood me They interrogated me and then violently punished me But staying true to my ideal and my true happiness I was able to endure with openness and magnanimity such flagrant injustice Lying in bed the novice felt something like a kind of bliss Kinh Tam realized that this lighthearted feeling of freedom was the result of the successful practice of inclusiveness of magnanimity p 58The two elder brothers were very surprised when they neither saw any sadness on the novice's face nor heard any words of reproach toward anyone even though people continued to slander and revile Kinh Tam In a discussion on the practice Thanh Tam asked Kinh Tam how the young novice was able to maintain such carefree and tranuil composure Kinh Tam answered It is because I have learned and am applying the practice of inclusiveness that I am able to avoid falling into suffering and reproach Practicing magnanimity brings us away from the shore of sorrows and over to the shore of freedom and happiness Paramita as my elder brothers already know means 'crossing over to the other shore' p 62After Thi Mau had her baby she abandoned it at the Dharma Cloud Temple Kinh Tam was moved with compassion and decided to take care of the baby Aunt Han Rarity nursed it and the child grew She named the adopted child Thien Tai Good Inheritance and called him Tai for short p 71As Thien Tai grew older strangely enough he didn't look anything like Mau and in fact his face increasing resembled that of his father teacher This made novice Kinh Tam's conduct suspect No one could imagine the possibility that the seeds of virtue and diligent practice in Kinh Tam now sown and cultivated in Thien Tai could manifest visibly in the child's countenance than hereditary seeds transmitted by biological parents p 73During her meditation Kinh Tam focused on little Tai Thien Si and Mau Daughter of a rich family she had beauty and position but not happiness Although her suitors were numerous she had never been truly loved Even the young man whom Mau had bedded she neither loved nor respected The novice did not need to know who that man was What the novice knew with certainty was that Mau did not love that person Both Mau and that man were simply victims of the raging fires of passion p 75 She also focused her meditation on the biological father of Thien TaiKinh Tam's heart and spirit felt light and free thanks to this practice of looking deeply to bring forth the energies of loving kindness and compassion from within like freshwater springing up from deep inside the Earth Looking at the other three Thien Si Mau and little Thien Tai's father the novice saw each one had suffered; each was still struggling to navigate the boat of life over the turbulent seas of ignorance and desires getting tossed around by the waves and often going under With this understanding Kinh Tam was able to truly love these three people Now filled with compassion the novice's heart was free from hatred resentment and hurt Kinh Tam knew that practice would be necessary to one day help the three and others to find their own understanding and be released from their sufferingThe novice surmised How heart wrenching it is to see young people continuing to go down such painful paths My father my mother my teacher my elder novice brothers and even little Thien Tai were also victims and had to bear some of the conseuences although none of them was responsible for any part of the suffering of misdeeds p 78 79 The Buddha taught that hatred is never removed by adding hatred The only stream that can wash away the pain of unjust acts is the sweet water of loving kindness and compassion Without loving kindness and compassion hatred and vengeance will continue to accumulate from one year and one lifetime to the next p 83When Thien Tai was six year old another novice at the Dharma Cloud Temple took his vows with the Dharma name Man Tam Heart of Fulfillment p 84Kinh Tam fell terribly ill Just before she died she wrote three letters to her parents and brother to the abbot her teacher and to Mau She asked for forgiveness of her deceit for living as a young man and living away from home for so long leaving the care of her parents to her brother and offered compassion and forgiveness to Mau After she finished writing she straightened her posture and began to nourish her body through the meditation exercises on breathing Once her body and mind became calm and peaceful Kinh Tam immediately entered the Concentration of Immeasurable Loving kindness Having reached potent levels of loving kindness concentration the novice went on into the Concentration of Immeasurable Compassion When she had attained full realization of this concentration she entered the Concentration of Immeasurable Joy A blissful smile bloomed continuously on the serene face of the novice With full strength from the Concentration of Immeasurable Joy in her Kinh Tam entered into the Concentration of Immeasurable Euanimity In this concentration loving kindness compassion and joy embraced the novice and every being in the world; there was no discrimination between loved ones and enemies The novice opened her heart fully to all beings She concentrated her complete mindfulness on her parents her brother her teacher her elder Dharma brothers and every single person who had supported her in the entire twenty eight years of this life Then with a smile she let go of that body and life Stably seated in the lotus position Kinh Tam passed away p 88 89 More than three thousand people moved by her exemplary life attended her funeral and cremation Sandalwood incense permeated the air its perfume helping everyone present to open up their hearts and embrace the entire cosmos The deep slow sounds of the giant bell deliberately unhurried gently coaxed people to release all tension and be at peace p 97At this moment there was not a single person in the crowd whose heart held any hatred or division At this moment there was not a single person in the crowd still harboring any bitterness or vindictiveness Over three thousand people were present yet every single person's heart was infused with the energy of true love The heart of novice Kinh Tam had entered into the hearts of all the people Kinh Tam was distinctly present in this earthly world as well as on the shore of true freedom p 97 98After her cremation they gathered her ashes They found in the collected ashes seventy five relics Some relics were the size of the knuckle of a little finger shining like pearls while others were the size of sesame seeds all shimmering with the auspicious combination of five colors The two monks gathered the relics into a white ceramic urn to be put on the altar in the temple for veneration p 98Following her funeral and cremation the abbot began to teach the Dharma to the large audience The abbot paused and then continued with a new air of reverence as he told the story of a visitation In the abbot's sitting meditation the night before the Buddha had appeared holding a lotus flower in his left hand and making the great auspicious mudra gesture with his right The Buddha told the abbot that Kinh Tam had achieved the highest attainment of a bodhisattva and was now peacefully abiding in the Dharma Cloud Realm A beam of bright light shone forth from the little finger of the World Honored One's right hand still in the position of the auspicious mudra Looking up at the sky in the direction indicated by the beam of light the abbot had seen a magnificently jeweled lotus dais with a thousand petals Sitting on the lotus dais was a bodhisattva whose bearing was extremely upright and whose facial features were exactly those of novice Kinh Tam The bodhisattva had smiled and joined her palms in respect toward the abbot who in turn joined his palms respectfully as his heart overflowed with serene joy and admiration Interestingly the abbot also saw the little aspirant Thien Tai standing with palms joined behind the bodhisattva's lotus dais Although the apparition lasted only very briefly the communication was uite deep and clear At that precise moment an extraordinary and wondrous fragrance pervaded the abbot's room that he had never sensed before p 99 100The story concludes with this paragraphDharma Cloud Temple also known as Cloud Temple or Mulberry Temple is the site now marking the legend of the Bodhisattva of Deep Listening Kinh Tam And to preserve in people's memory that the bodhisattva appeared as a young woman the local people invoke Homage to the Bodhisattva of Deep Listening Thi Kinh The middle name Thi is regularly given to women Let us happily join the people in respectfully reciting Homage to the Bodhisattva of Deep Listening Thi Kinh The End p 104 105


  10. says:

    Reading Thich Nhat Hanh is like drinking from a cool stream


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