Author Q&A

Author Q&A – Cuong Lu

Author Cuong Lu is a student of Thich Nhat Hanh and has worked for many years as a prison chaplain. His book, The Buddha in Jail, brings together his experiences in this field over the years and paints a picture of how his work and practice come together. In a short interview with The Dewdrop, Cuong Lu demonstrates his motivations for writing, the rewards of prison chaplaincy as well as the power of his teacher’s belief in him.

 

How do you write?

I am in deep concentration when I write. In that state of mind, I don’t think. Thinking is an obstacle for my writing. You can say that I meditate when I write. For me, meditation and writing are exactly the same. I write very fast. When it is done, I know: it is done. Writing always gives me a happy feeling. A feeling of being connected with myself and with life.

Why do you write?

I want to share my life with my readers. And I want to invite my readers to recognize their insight when they read my book. A book is for my readers to discover themselves. When a book comes from real life, it always tells my story and your story. Your life is often more interesting than you think. Through a good book, you can discover yourself.


When a book comes from real life, it always tells my story and your story. Your life is often more interesting than you think. Through a good book, you can discover yourself.


How did your recent book, The Buddha in Jail, come about?

My wife encouraged me to write this book. She asked me to sit down every morning to write this book instead of doing my daily sitting meditation. She wanted that everybody can have access to these stories about transforming suffering and touching happiness. Without her, this book wouldn’t have been possible.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing the book?

We are Buddhas and we all have the capacity to be free and happy. No matter who we are and what we have gone through in life. We have insight and happiness in each of us. The most challenging aspect of writing this book is to make my readers to understand this.


Don’t write about the Dharma. Live the Dharma. The writing will come when you have lived the Dharma.


What is the most rewarding aspect of prison chaplaincy work?

The most rewarding aspect of prison chaplaincy work is to see that I am in each prisoner. Thanks to this work, I have learnt to be humble. And I also have seen the Buddha in each prisoner. It helps me to be hopeful, even when I am going through a difficult time.

What advice would you give to other writers writing about the dharma?

Don’t write about the Dharma. Live the Dharma. The writing will come when you have lived the Dharma.

What is the greatest lesson your teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, taught you?

He believed in me. That was his greatest lesson. Some time it was difficult between him and me, but he kept trusting me. That was his power, his insight and his love.

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