Review of Old Path White Clouds
About This Resource
Old Path White Clouds: Walking in the Footsteps of the Buddha
By Thich Nhat Hanh; Illustrated by Nguyen Thi Hop; Translated by Mobi Ho
Published by Parallax Press (click here to purchase)
“Old Path White Clouds presents the life and teachings of Gautama Buddha. Drawn directly from 24 Pali, Sanskrit, and Chinese sources, and retold by Thich Nhat Hanh in his inimitable beautiful style, this book traces the Buddha’s life slowly and gently over the course of 80 years, partly through the eyes of Svasti, the buffalo boy, and partly through the eyes of the Buddha himself…” —Parallax Press
This seminal text by Vietnamese monk, poet, and peace activist, revered around the world for his teachings on mindfulness, ethics, and peace, is recommended by many lamas, teachers, and students and is appropriate for adults and children alike. It’s long, but broken up into 2 books with a total of 81 chapters. There are summaries of each chapter in the appendix at the end as well as a map of the area where Buddha roamed, and an excellent appendix of Pali and Sanskrit terms.
An interesting aspect of this book is that the chapters are not in sequential order of the story of the Buddha’s life and there is no description of his enlightenment. He’s teaching sutras in chapter 2 and is born in chapter 6. Chapter 30 presents the Five Precepts. In this way the story flows more from the teachings and it can be read out of order.
One Buddhist mom said she read Old Path, White Clouds cover to cover as a bedtime story to her young daughter. “It was this special place that she and I went to every night. It wasn’t action-packed but it had so much atmosphere, at least for us. It was like we went on a journey every night. It was so gentle. I remember reading every night for about half an hour.” The daughter, now all grown up, recalls this as a very special time. “Even if I don’t remember all the details from the stories, they left a lasting impression. It was the first time I was connected with the Buddha, and through the telling, I developed an affection for him as a main character. This later turned into something more. But at the time, that seed of just really liking this guy Siddhartha was important. The book became a bridge for my mom to share Buddhism with me, which I know she was happy about. That joy of reading something that was so dear to her made it stand out from other bedtime stories and I could feel that.”