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Old Path White Clouds: Walking in the Footsteps of the Buddha

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4.46  ·  Rating details ·  3,537 ratings  ·  351 reviews
Drawn from original sources, Old Path White Clouds is the beautiful classic recounting of the life and teachings of Gautama Buddha over the course of eighty years. It is retold alternately through the eyes of Svasti, the buffalo boy who provided kusa grass for the Buddha's enlightenment cushion, and the Buddha himself.
Paperback, 600 pages
Published May 1st 1991 by Parallax Press (first published April 30th 1987)
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Gabrielle
I’ve been reading and reviewing a bunch of books about Buddhism lately, and it occurred to me that I hadn’t read my very first introduction to the teachings in a really, really long time. We visited the Cham Shan Temple (also known as the Ten Thousand Buddhas Sarira Stupa, in Niagara Falls, Ontario) over the holidays, and looking at the amazing statues and shrines and spending a little time inside the public temple reminded me how moved I was by my first introduction to the life of the Buddha, ...more
Patrick
Apr 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone looking to gain a deeper understanding of the life and teachings of Buddha
Recommended to Patrick by: Reno Buddhist Church reading group
I just finished this reading this book as a participant in the every-other-Wednesday reading/discussion group at the Reno Buddhist Church. If you pick up a copy, don't be intimidated by the book's hefty size; it's written in an easy, flowing style and you will move through it quickly.

A thorough retelling of the story of the life Siddhartha Gautama (better known to most people as the Buddha), the book is highly enjoyable if the reader already has a basic understanding of Buddhist philosophy and
...more
Grady McCallie
Nov 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: buddhism
In Old Path White Clouds, Thich Nhat Hanh retells the story of the Buddha's life, drawing on accounts from multiple classical sources. The language is simple, calm, and beautiful; there's conflict in the story, but no false drama, just the clear working out and sharing of the Buddha's teachings, and the growth of the early sangha through the end of the Buddha's life.

Over the last two decades, I've acquired and read parts or all of roughly a dozen different books on Buddhism, from translations of
...more
সালমান হক
This is basically Buddha's autobiography told from his various close associates and third person perspectives. Along with it, his teachings are also combined in a simple, understandable form. If you are looking for the history of Buddha and his Sangha's early days, you can pick this up.
Rosie Nguyễn
Sep 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
A great book about Buddha, and Buddhism. Found what I have thought scatterly about life, death, and human were all there in the book, more systematically, completely, perfectly. Found out that Buddhism is not merely a religion, but science about life.
Peter Upton
Mar 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
With its ‘Four Establishments of Mindfulness, the Four Right Efforts, the Five Faculties, the Five Powers, the Seven Factors of Awakening and the Noble Eightfold Path’(page 457)and ‘such simple practices as the sixteen methods of observing the breath’ (page 476)Buddhism has always felt too intellectually demanding to appeal to me. However, my biggest doubt was that I was under the impression that they believed in an endlessly repeated cycle of birth, death and rebirth which I couldn’t accept ...more
Yirong
Oct 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Personally, the best written recount of the buddha's life.
Beautiful, clear and simple writing without missing out on the important sutras and key essence of what buddhism is all about.

I have attended Thich Nhat Nanh's retreat and enjoyed it thoroughly. He also mentioned in his website that " I knew that the readers would have much happiness while reading the book because I had so much happiness while writing it"

Indeed I felt light and happy reading the book. Its simple yet deep. It deserves a
...more
Nikki
Apr 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is so much more than a book. It's absolutely an experience. I have walked alongside the Buddha for 572 blissful pages. Thich Nhat Hanh delivers a beautiful narrative of the Buddha's life, including his path to enlightenment and all his teachings in the years that follow. Imbedded within the Buddha's story are many stories about other followers, monks, and nuns, how they struggled, and how they came to follow the Buddha. Many of the Buddhas teachings are contained within this text and ...more
Anthony Mazzorana
Dec 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: buddhism
The good: It's easy reading and a nice way to learn more about the Buddha's teachings.

The bad: 572 pages felt like 572 pages. It's a biography but it isn't. It's fictionalized. So it's hard to know what Thich Nhat Hanh made up and what he got from original sources. Granted, the Buddha lived over 2,500 years ago so it deserves a serious clump of salt anyways.

The ugly: I don't like that the Buddha's wife is depicted as encouraging him to leave her and their only child to go and find "The Way".
...more
Heidi Nummi
May 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The most beautiful and inspiring book I've ever read.

A must-read for every living being.
Evy Ngo
Jul 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book gives me a general view of life of Buddha as a human rather than a god or a saint. Thanks to this, I found myself on the same path he passed and therefore encouraged to move forward on my path to enlightenment. Moreover, maybe because it was written by a zen master, the energy in the book is so calming and soothing, as if I was taught by the zen master himself. Every time I read, I found myself lighter of stress and saw more joy sparkling in life.
Bobby Tang
Nov 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I find this book more philosophical than religious. The teachings are based on the dissection of life and attempt to construct a way to overcome the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth, under the Buddha's view.

In short, I find 3 biggest takeaways from this book.
1. Suffering exists because of our expectation defied by reality.
2. Impermanence is permanent. Interdependence is the truth.
3. To love is to give, not to impose.

This is not an easy book because of heavily philosophical contents and
...more
Sophie
Apr 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, buddhism
A very beautiful book retelling the Buddha's life story and his teachings.

The language is very simple, but really stunningly beautiful. It captured my heart right away. The story is told through the eyes of a young buffalo boy who ends up becoming a monk, and through the eyes of the Buddha himself. His teachings are recounted and explained various times, and you get a good impression of what they were, even if you don't understand all of them.

I'm having a little trouble of expressing just how
...more
Aaron
Revered monk Thich Nhat Hanh tells a fictional story of the life of the Buddha. Despite the fact that it is quite long, this is perhaps the best introduction to Buddhism for general public. He does a great job making the characters very realistic and entertaining to read, while at the same time telling the mainstream story of Shakyamuni Buddha's real life, as well as the lives of several other characters along the way to flesh out other aspects of Buddhism.

Fairly easy reading, although long. If
...more
Tams
Mar 29, 2019 rated it liked it
First 300 pages was enjoyable, almost lost a star as the last 300 pages was a slog.
Pratima
Nov 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved the Book. Will Recommend everyone to read it atleast once.
Abhi
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful biography of the Buddha that also covers the basics of Theravada Buddhism.

One of the best things about this book is that you get to see a religion evolving in real time. Simple precepts of being present eventually transform to become over 200 sutras and guidelines as the community of bhikkus keeps growing. The author tries to build as objective a picture of Siddhartha Gautama as can be done almost 2500 years after he existed.
Wangmo Ghalley
Feb 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Simple yet so profound.
This books gives all the basic teachings of the Buddha
...more
Moon Rose
Immersion. Awareness. Awakening.

This is Gautama Buddha′s threefold pathway in reaching the summit of an Enlightened Existence. An age Old Path leading to the steep stairway towards the soaring White Clouds in the sky. This ultimate realization should be the direct aspiration of every thinking man, the end point of his being and the beginning of his interbeing as the capacity to attain this Supreme Wisdom of Divination is present in all of human consciousness despite its seeming untapped nature
...more
Stuti Jain
Dec 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Feels like living with Buddha.
Rathi
Jun 24, 2017 rated it liked it
I feel almost guilty to say that I did not like this book very much. Buddha as per this book was a proselytizer more than a fully realized soul. He also calls his path the only true path. I come from a religious system that emphasize s on multiple roads leading to the same destination. And my understanding of Buddha was a little different - I think he was definitely a realized soul who taught compassion and tolerance towards all living beings. There is also quite a bit of Brahmin hatred in the ...more
Shravan Mishra
Dec 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is an extraordinary book. Reading this book is like meditating.
The whole life story and the journey of the Buddha has been narrated in such a beautiful way that you feel like you are taking the journey along with the Buddha himself.
It is not just a story of Siddhartha's life, it's a deep glance into the teachings and Yogic practices employed by the Buddha and his close disciples.
Any spiritual seeker will love this book. It's filled with compassion and love. It's too overwhelming and often
...more
Sherilyn Siy
Jun 07, 2017 rated it did not like it
I liked the first 1/4 of the book and was completely hooked into the story of the Buddha's enlightenment and insights into life, death, the universe. I love the Thich Nhat Hanh books I have read so far and was so looking forward to this book. However, he lost me when he started going into who donated what to the Buddha, who visited the Buddha and became monks, who hosted vegetarian banquets for the Buddha, and the nitty gritty rules of monk life. I honestly think A LOT can be cut out from the ...more
Evan Backer
Jul 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I picked this book up from the store without even researching it. It's wonderful so far - a "novelistic" approach to the Buddha's life and teaching, told from the perspective of a young buffalo boy named Svasti. Written by Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, it somehow manages to be charming and full of vibrant personality while still explaining very well the teachings. Thich Nhat Hanh presents the Buddha not as a stoic and silent being, but as a human who grows in his concern for the root of all ...more
Maureen
Aug 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: buddhism
Thich Nhat Hanh, in addition to being an influential religious leader and poet, is a scholar of the first order. Nowhere is his level of scholarship more evident than in this book. He draws upon original sources to tell the life of the Buddha. His writing style is simple and poetic, and he relays the large and small events of Buddha's life in a highly readable fashion. This book is engaging enough to read to children, but sophisticated enough to hold the attention of any adult interested in ...more
Nicole
Mar 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
"The Buddha explained that all things depend on each other for their arising, development, and decline. Without dependent co-arising, nothing could exist. Within one thing existed all things. 'The meditation on dependent co-arising is the gate which leads to liberation from birth and death. It has the power to break through fixed and narrow views such as the belief that the universe has been created either by some god or from some element such as earth, water, fire, or air.'" p. 159
Duke
Oct 06, 2014 rated it liked it
As someone has said, the best way to define this book as
"Revered monk Thich Nhat Hanh tells a fictional story of the life of the Buddha"

Since I am well-versed with Buddha original teachings, hence its unfair to call all the incidents as real but agreed that this book is best we could re-collect about Buddha life.

P.S "50%+ are just fictions".
Nick Mather
Aug 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I would say that this is a much better narrative of the life of the Buddha than Hesse's Siddhartha, but I'll refrain from that since the two books have different approaches in mind. Hanh writes from the engaged perspective of a practioner of zen and that shows in the elegant simplicity of the language he uses.
Rick
Oct 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone interested in Buddhism
Shelves: spirituality
Not only is this a comprehensive history of the Buddha written from a first person, narrative perspective; but anyone who reads it will also come away with a basic working knowledge of the tenets of Buddhism. Even with all that, perhaps the thing I liked best about it is that reading it felt like meditating... very peaceful.
Ashwin
Jan 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
One of the most profound books I ever read. I just happened to pick it up at an airport while killing time and just could not stop reading until I had finished it. Led me to places I did not know existed.
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Thích Nhất Hạnh is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet and peace activist who now lives in southwest France where he was in exile for many years. Born Nguyễn Xuân Bảo, Thích Nhất Hạnh joined a Zen (Vietnamese: Thiền) monastery at the age of 16, and studied Buddhism as a novitiate. Upon his ordination as a monk in 1949, he assumed the Dharma name Thích Nhất Hạnh. Thích is an honorary ...more
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