“This short story conveys to children the timeless value of compassion, courage, and peacemaking in a simple yet powerful manner.” —Multicultural Review
In a war-torn world filled with images of violence, Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh offers young readers reassurance and a reminder that peace can be found through empathy. Based on a talk given directly to children, this timely book tells the story of a cat and a mouse and their smiling friend the Coconut Monk who overcome the differences of nature, nation, and belief to live as friends. Teaching equanimity, compassion, and perseverance, the book includes full-color oil paintings by Vietnamese-American painter Vo-Dinh Mai.
The Coconut Monk brought two friends with him on his journey—a cat and a mouse. The cat and the mouse traveled together. They had been friends for so long and sat with the Coconut Monk while he was meditating.
The Coconut Monk traveled for many days and nights. But when he reached the presidential palace, the guards would not let him in. Why are you here, the guards asked him, what can you, a silly monk, say to the President?”
“If a cat and a mouse can live together in peace, don’t you think we humans can too?“
From the introduction by Thich Nhat Hanh
I personally have met the Coconut Monk. When he was a young man he went to France and studied engineering, but when he went back to Vietnam, he did not like being an engineer anymore. He wanted to become a monk, and he practiced a lot of sitting meditation. He liked to sit where the atmosphere was calm and fresh, so he climbed up in a coconut tree and built a platform up there, and he sat in meditation up there. That is why people called him the Coconut Monk.