Thich Nhat Hanh’s retelling of traditional and historical legends provides an introduction to the rich mythology of Vietnamese culture. His clear, contemplative spirit illuminates this collection of short stories, which includes new folktales inspired by Vietnam’s recent past. Each story subtly and gently invokes Thich Nhat Hanh’s key themes of cooperation, reconciliation, mindfulness, and the profound realization of the interconnectedness of all beings.
For people of all ages and traditions.
Contains previously published material from Taste of Earth and The Stone Boy.
Myth, anthropology, ancient history, the simple joys of peace, and the sorrows of war can all be found in The Dragon Prince. Savor the tastes, fragrances, sights and sounds of an older, distant world, a world that can delight and inspire.
The Pine Gate
It was a chilly autumn evening, and the full moon had just risen, when the young swordsman arrived at the foot of the mountain. The wilderness was bathed in the light of the moon glimmering playfully on branches and leaves. It seemed that nothing had changed during the seven years he was away, and yet it was surprising that no one was there to greet him. The swordsman paused at the foot of the mountain and looked up. He saw that the narrow path up the mountain was barred by a tightly shut pine gate. He walked forward slowly and pushed at the gate, but it was immovable, even under his powerful hands.
Never, in as long as he could remember, had his master locked that gate. This narrow path was the only way up the mountain. So, holding onto the handle of his sword, he jumped as high as he could, but he was unable to jump over the low gate. A strange force had gripped his whole body and pushed it back down. Next he unsheathed his long sword to cut the gate’s bar open, but the sword’s sharp blade bounced back from the soft pinewood with so powerful an impact that it sent a shock through his hand and wrist. He raised his sword toward the sky and examined its edge under the moonlight. Somehow, the gate was too hard for his sword. It seemed that his master had endowed it with the strength of his own spirit. It was impassable. The swordsman sighed deeply, returned his sword to its sheath, and sat down on a rock outside the gate.
Seven years earlier, on the day he was to leave the mountain, his master looked into his eyes for a long moment without saying anything. There was a kind expression on his master’s face, and yet there was something else, too, a kind of pity. The young swordsman could only bow his head in reverence. After a while, the old man said to him, “I cannot keep you here forever. I know you have to go down the mountain and into the world to carry out the Way and help people. I thought I could keep you here with me a little longer, but if it is your will to leave now, you have all my blessings. Remember what I have taught you. In the world below, you will need it.