One Monk, Many Masters
The Wanderings of A Simple Buddhist Traveler
by Paul Breiter
Paperback, 264 pages with photographs
$18 plus shipping!
In 1969 Paul Breiter was among the throngs of disaffected youth who traveled to the Exotic East, seeking to escape the cultural and spiritual upheavals at home. He traveled to India, thinking that indulging the senses would be his means of finding God.
Instead, he found himself at a monastery in Thailand, taking the precepts of a Buddhist monk. He would spend the next seven years in robes, not indulging the senses, but depriving them.
One Monk, Many Masters: The Wanderings of a Simple Buddhist Traveler follows Paul’s life as a monk and his ongoing search for enlightenment after leaving the robes.
One Monk, Many Masters is an engaging account of Paul's spiritual wanderings through the Theravada, Zen, and Tibetan Buddhist traditions under such great teachers as Ajahn Chah, Ajahn Sumedho, Kobun, Lama Gonpo, and the 16th Karmapa.
Paul Breiter's interesting and modest account of his life as a Buddhist monk practicing in the U.S. and Thailand, especially illuminates two 20th century teachers whose work in opening the Dharma to westerners had an especially profound effect on Western Buddhism. Ajahn Chah and Kobun Chino both kept themselves outside conventional institutional practice in order to express the Dharma as a way of life with meditation as its basis. Breiter's experience with each of these teachers, expressed in this book with honesty and insight, is a pleasure to read as he takes us primarily to small forest temples in the Thai forest with Ajahn Chah, and on a foray to Santa Cruz, California with Kobun Chino. The Dharma emerges throughout his memories as a sincere gift, and a teaching for all who are fortunate to read it.
Angie (Zuiko Enji) Boissevain
Paul Breiter’s restless character is equipped with an observant eye, unrelenting note-taking and a compass pointing towards masters of the Dhamma. The result is a rich and diverse travelogue through modern Buddhism. With dry wit and an unquenchable heart, Breiter relates his journey with self-effacing modesty. We begin in 1970 Thailand with a young Mr. Breiter, of American Jewish roots, rather bemused to find himself ordained as a Buddhist monk. While in Bangkok he soon encounters his first teacher, Theravada master Luang Por Chah. Breiter’s doubts about his ordination subside for several years but not, we discover, for good. Once disrobed, he returns to the States where he studies with other Buddhist teachers, including Tibetan lamas, a married Zen priest and a uniquely American hybrid. Breiter’s knack for unadorned observation takes the reader on a worthwhile trek through modern Buddhism as journeyed by a Western layman turned monk and back again.
Sakula Mary Reinard, Spiritual Director, Portland Friends of the Dhamma