Cuong Lu’s The Buddha in Jail: 52 Vignettes on Discovering Freedom and Happiness Within
Cuong Lu, founder of the Mind Only School in the city of Gouda in the Netherlands, is a Buddhist teacher, writer, and scholar. Born in Nha Trang, Vietnam, in the midst of the Vietnam War, Lu and his family fled to the Netherlands when he was 11 years old. After majoring in Asian studies at the University of Leiden, Cuong Lu travelled to Thich Nhat Hanh’s Plum Village community in France, where he lived and practiced peace for 16 years. During his time there Lu was ordained as a monk under Thich Nhat Hanh’s guidance, and in 2000 he received recognition as a teacher in the Lieu Quan line of the Linji school of Zen Buddhism.
From 2011–17, Lu served as a prison chaplain in the Netherlands. His new book, The Buddha in Jail: Restoring Lives, Finding Hope and Freedom (OR Books 2019), offers insights into the lives of prisoners that will resonate with us all. This month, Buddhistdoor Global interviewed him on his life, work, and writing.
Buddhistdoor Global: In the introduction to The Buddha in Jail, you write: “I saw that I could help others overcome loneliness, as I had, and find meaning again in their lives.” Did your experiences growing up in a war zone have a bearing on your decision to serve others who are suffering?