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Month: November 2014

Vietnam: The Lotus in the Sea of Fire

Vietnam: The Lotus in the Sea of Fire ~ CoverI just read “Vietnam: The Lotus in the Sea of Fire”. This small book was written at the height of the Vietnam war by my Zen Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh.

My first sensation on receiving the book was one of gratitude. I had been wanting to read it for some time but it had never come to hand. It has been out of print for a long time but I found a copy on Abebooks for £5 delivered to my door. This copy was an ex-library volume from the Cathedral and Abbey Church of St Alban and is a 1967 first UK edition. It feels like a piece of history. I imagine it being bought 47 years ago by someone trying to understand the situation from a Vietnamese Buddhist perspective. I wonder why it was discarded.

The cover is as powerful as it is iconic. It shows the self-immolation of Buddhist monk Thich Quang-Duc. The book could be seen as an explanation of the context in which Thich Quang-Duc and other Buddhists felt they had to burn themselves.