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The US Review

by Kate Robinson 

The Paradise Man: According to Thomas Merton
by Linxhuan Vu
Xlibris

“[Paradise] is rather an attitude of heart, a state of consciousness, in a spiritual journey.”

The author, a priest and Cistercian monk, has artfully crafted this “collection of precious notes” inspired by Thomas Merton, a prominent twentieth-century Trappist monk known for his insightful scholarly work in Christian mysticism. Merton was praised by Tenzin Gyatso, the current Dalai Lama, as having the most profound understanding of Buddhism than any Christian he had ever known. This book addresses the state of returning to paradise as a state of consciousness in Christian terminology, using many well-known biblical metaphors familiar to Christians and non-Christians alike. Many of the precepts discussed have strong relevance in Buddhist theology and in mystic Islam, both of which share the idea that higher states of consciousness are available to both laypeople and monastics as well as to both non-religious and religious spiritual seekers.

The author patiently and methodically explains in just three chapters Merton’s philosophy of attaining the consciousness of paradise by setting ego and earthly desires aside to exist in the present moment, an act of gratitude and prayerful union with God. The author sees this union as simultaneously an act of contemplation and an act of transformation. By his account, the state of self-identity—the “I” consciousness—vanishes, and what remains is unparalleled “being,” a state of limitless peace and joy. In this state of mind, God is everywhere, in everything, and, therefore, to exist in this state is true paradise. Spiritual seekers will appreciate the concrete and accessible guidance in this book, and it certainly can be read and re-read as needed to rekindle the wonder of life’s sacred aspects. The beauty of this philosophical journey is that the journey and the destination are available to all.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review.

The Readers’ Favorite Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers’ Favorite

The Paradise Man According to Thomas Merton is a short work of religious discussion aimed at readers of all ages and was penned by author Linhxuan Vu. Taking the original concept of the biblical Garden of Eden, and the suffering of humanity since its leaving the garden, Vu re-explains the garden as a metaphor in modern life for the paradise we all seek inside ourselves. Written in part as a self-help guide through discovering one’s own faith in the Christian God, this work explains Thomas Merton’s philosophy of achieving paradise whilst living, but cutting away earthly ego-driven desires and opening ourselves to the goodness of God.

Written for readers in all walks of life, whether they are devout in their daily practices or not, author Linhxuan Vu approaches God from both a philosophical and devout lens, using the real-world realistic principles of Thomas Merton as a guide. The work is well organized with quotations to support the arguments of Merton and the explanations given by Vu, strengthening the concept with every passing chapter. The tone is both instructional and inspirational, attempting to evoke a sense that paradise is indeed a real feeling which can be achieved by living humans, through the toil of creating an ‘attitude of the heart’ and accepting God’s love into their lives. Overall, The Paradise Man According to Thomas Merton presents an intelligent meshing of modern and traditional takes on Christian devotion and belief, and would certainly be a useful read to anyone seeking comfort and the need to fill the emptiness in their lives.

The Pacific Book Review

Pacific Book Review Star
Awarded to Books of Excellent Merit

When you think of the word paradise, the first thing that would typically come to mind is an indescribable environment or experience of peace and happiness. It can also be a word to describe Heaven and what it must feel like to be closer to God. The interesting thing about that is, people have a tough time wrapping their heads around the fact that every living thing is directly connected to God. As long as we focus on becoming better spiritual beings, God will continue to use us wherever He sees fit, as we’re ready and
willing. Once we strip ourselves away from ego and selfishness, we’ll gain knowledge and witness opportunities presenting themselves to us in ways we cannot fathom. A goal every human should consider having is to fully emerge themselves with God so they can become one with our creator and experience life in the way it was intended. Many would wonder, if paradise could be here on Earth or if it’s only reserved for special individuals. Growth is all a part of life and developing new skills to aid us in our life journey, only increases the importance of making a paradisiac life worth living. Life is amped to unreachable heights when you have God within your heart as your trusted guide throughout life.

In The Paradise Man: According to Thomas Merton, author Linhxuan Vu breaks down text written by Thomas Merton in more digestible pieces. As the reader, we’re gaining knowledge about who and what a Paradise Man is, how does one become one, as well as discovering ways to connect on that higher level. It’s discussed further that there is a Paradise Man, who is the second Adam of mankind that was created by God. To become said Paradise Man, one must live life through the eyes of God, emerging into one with all creations of life, from nature to natural resources. Viewing through the eyes of paradise, it’s interpreted that by believing all things were created with reason and to bond spiritually with others, grants you the advancement of being higher up in your spirit. God favors humankind, as stated in the book simply because we’re crafted in His image. Although we have free will, the greatest gift an individual can give themselves is to accept God into their life since we were gifted the Holy Spirit by God, Himself. Our connection to our creator is direct, but we cannot see through our human eyes, only through spiritual sight. We are instructed to lose our self-awareness to be psychologically transformed because we are to live selflessly, as we are not our person, but a temporary vessel to conduct and carry out acts in God’s name. This teaches us to pay attention to what happens around us while being aware that the Holy Spirit is within us at all times to carry out missions of faith and love.

When it comes to love, the book talks about the definition of love in its purest form, which is something no human has managed to master. The “disinterested love” can be described similarly to unconditional love, where there are no limits, no conditions, just given without question or for a specific reason, but given away freely without restraints. So far, only God has that capability and we have so much learning to do to develop and prepare ourselves for paradise. One thing stood out, “the most important thing is love”, which is true because that’s an emotion God is enriched in and has shared his love with us so that we may turn around to share it with Him and others.

I found this book to be very interesting, as I haven’t heard such term as “Paradise Man.” Learning about our true purpose as human beings and what we’re supposed to do to have a direct communication line to God, is mind-blowing. I knew we were all created with the Holy Spirit within us, as a temporary loan until our lives are no longer. I just didn’t know our spiritual essence is what God sees and communicates with, kind of like a little-voice that speaks to us. When the description of Thomas Merton’s paradise experience at a spring, he truly believed his natural environment was praising God through him. This could also mean that a Paradise Man is extensions of nature, as nature is an extension of us, what we do to the world comes right back. I like how the author quotes some important sections from Thomas Merton because his experience and expertise of the matter are extensive.

This book encourages everyone to take their thoughts and actions into serious consideration because we are direct reflections of God, and we should act accordingly. I highly recommend everyone to give this a read, it grants the opportunity to change one’s perspective on life and make adjustments to reap benefits only paradisaical beings would have.

Gini Graham-Scott

Dear Linhxuan Vu,

My name is Gini Graham-Scott.  I’m an American author, songwriter, and game developer.  I’m also a consultant specializing in business and work relationships, conflict resolution, creativity, social issues, and criminal justice.

I have published over 40 books on diverse subjects. I have received national media exposure for my books (including appearances on Good Morning America, Oprah, Montel Williams, CNN, and The O’Reilly Factor). I am the founder and director of Changemakers Publishing, Screenworks, Song works, and Creative Communications & Research. I hosted a weekly radio talk show series, Changemakers, featuring interviews on various topics, which aired from 1991 to 1993 to 1 million listeners in over 70 countries.  I taught classes at several colleges, including Woodbury University, Notre Dame de Namur University, and the Investigative Career Program in San Francisco.

So, that’s me, but, enough about me as it’s not important.  The important topic here is you and your book, “The Paradise Man: According to Thomas Merton” and how it can make an impact on the silver screen.

I believe you have been contacted by Rushmore Press as I’ve recommended you to them to fulfill a Treatment and Screenplay for your book, “The Paradise Man: According to Thomas Merton,” for me to use in adapting into a film.

The reason why I want your book is because it’s different.  It’s such an interesting book, The Paradise Man.  I love its simplicity because it gives the reader mysterious thoughts.  It’s a page-turner at the same time a page holder as you would want to reflect on each page.  

The Paradise Man is certainly a source of peace, joy, and sanctity. If you want to take your spiritual formation to the next level this is a must-read book. The author simplifies advanced spiritual concepts advanced by Thomas Merton and reveals the hidden treasure of Paradise that can occur only through a change of heart. Paradise Man inspires and offers a path for those who are ready to empty their ego and watch paradise appear in all its beauty while experiencing an intimate relationship with the true God. You will want to read this book to learn more.

I also love how you, as the author, simplified advanced spiritual concepts developed by Thomas Merton through your clarity of thought and writing style.  With that, you exposed the hidden treasure of a Paradise that can only transpire through a change of heart.  I truly believe that Paradise Man, if made a film, will inspire and offer a path to those who are willing to release their ego and watch utopia appear in all its beauty while feeling an intimate connection with God.  People across the world will want to not just read this book but to watch the film that I’ll be producing, as well.

With all this said, I hope to be able to work with you on this project in bringing your book to the big screen so people may enjoy it and change for the betterment of this world.

Sincerely,
Gini Graham-Scott, Ph.D.

Lee Broom
4.0 out of 5 starsThought-provoking, spiritual book

This is a thought-provoking book. There are spiritual and philosophical questions and discourses all through this work. I had an interesting time reading through this book, as it talked about some deeply profound things, yet in some ways very simple. The author put together Thomas Merton’s writings and thoughts on becoming a Paradise Man, or a person who enjoys a life with God, and loves his fellow man, and also learns to be at peace and content with the world and his life. That’s it in a nutshell, so to speak, and the book is very good at showing the reader this way of looking at life. It’s a very good discussion of how different ones through history learn how to be at peace with God and people in the world, but also talks a lot about the suffering and poverty in the world, and how one can love others to do something about these things. It’s an interesting book, and there is a lot to think about, and much to ponder. It is very good at convincing a person to learn to find joy in God’s creation and contentment and peace in all circumstance. There is a good glossary at the end of the book about the different terms, and details about the people and spiritual things mentioned in this book.

Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 starsThis book is different from any other I have ever …

This book is different from any other I have ever read. The author’s message: that Paradise already exists if we only accept it on God’s terms, it supported by extensive quotes from Thomas Merton and others.
For this reviewer, a most significant content is that found on pages 131-136, where the author provides an impressive overview of mankind’s failed attempts to seek/create Paradise on earth through human effort. He ends by concluding that it can’t be done; that God’s effort is essential. This conclusion then serves as backdrop and justification for everything else in the book; which proceeds to outline how, working in cooperation with God, each of us can facilitate God’s creating Paradise in us even now – while still in this pilgrim life. A Paradise which ironically will extend beyond ourselves.
A few minor grammar issues are more than compensated for by clarity of thought, and very practical layperson language.
This is not a book to be read and put away; it is a working document (a road map if you will) to which the person seeking to become a “Paradise Man/Women” will want to frequently refer.

KJoel
5.0 out of 5 stars The Paradise Man a Gentle Guide for Deep Reflection

I have now read this book twice, and some pages three times and I find it to be a gentle guide for deep reflection. Fr. David Linhxuan Vu has written an inspiring and comforting book reminding us to turn our attention back to Paradise both in relation to the earth and to each other, and ultimately to God. In these noisy and turbulent times, The Paradise Man is a welcome reprieve to a gentler state of mind where we are renewed by seeking again a simple surrender that connects us back to the original intention of our being to be people of Paradise, inhabitants of the Kingdom of Heaven. With ample quotes by Thomas Merton sprinkled throughout, this deceptively simple book is deeply satisfying.

wayne lobue
5.0 out of 5 stars Free of unnecessary or complex theological jargon

“The Paradise Man” is a readable accounting of the contemplative life according to Thomas Merton. As written by its author, a priest of the Cistercian Abbey in Ava, Missouri, this presentation provides Fr. Louis’ reflections on the interior life that are available for the “person in pew”. Free of unnecessary or complex theological jargon, the author allows Merton to speak directly to our heart, as he does at his best. For any terms of complexity, a glossary is provided as addendum to further enrich the reader. This small book enriches the path of any person seriously seeking spiritual deepening.

A study of Merton for Everyperson. Excellent read.

One person found this helpful

Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars It’s a Text book.

This is an interesting book. When I read it I have feeling that I am reading a Text book. It is simple but leading me to play with mysterious thoughts in a very high level that I can not fast forward like I used to do with the other spiritual books. It holds me in each page. The book reflects the spirituality of Saint Benedict when he said in his Rule: The Rule was written for beginners and the monastery is the school; but throughout centuries Benedictine and Cistercian monks and nuns have been studying and practicing that Rule to try to get there and are still students. I think, together with Thomas Merton and Saint Teresa d’Avila Fr. Peter is writing a Text book to share their Divine experience, to inspire us to learn how to release ourselves from this busy world and enter the paradise in our heart. Thank you.

Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars  Open your heart to this book

Our hearts have never lost this hope that Paradise is the inheritance of everyone; a source of infinite peace, joy and sanctity. If you want to take your spiritual formation to the next level this is a must read book. The author simplifies advanced spiritual concepts advanced by Thomas Merton and reveals the hidden treasure of Paradise that can occur only through a change of heart. Paradise Man inspires and offers a path for those who are ready to empty their ego and watch paradise appear in all its beauty while experiencing an intimate relationship with the true God. You will want to read this book to learn more.

Dorothy Crahan
5.0 out of 5 stars I   especially liked the inclusion of quotes by St

A lovely commentary on Thomas Merton, who can sometimes be a difficult read. I especially liked the inclusion of quotes by St. Theresa, Ghandi and Suzuki. The commonalities of the great religious traditions of the world, as mentioned in the text, far outweigh the differences, I think. The presence of the Holy Spirit infused Ghandi’s life (whether Ghandi knew it or not, or called it something different!) A good read, much food for thought. One need not be a saint or a mystic to be a Paradise Man. This is a good tool for the journey. Thanks, Father Peter!

Steven Fruge
5.0 out of 5 stars  Simplifying Thomas Merton

In reading this book I find the author’s clarity of thought and writing style has the effect of simplifying Thomas Merton. The author’s style is to quote Thomas Merton and give an explanation of the meaning behind the quote. Often when reading this book I have had an “oh now I get it” moment as the meaning behind Thomas Merton’s quote became clear to me.

Gentle Breeze
5.0 out of 5 stars  I have found to be inspirational and easy to understand

This Work, which as the title implies, draws mainly from the prayerful reflection of Thomas Merton, I have found to be inspirational and easy to understand.
It’s pages engender HOPE in the attainment of beatitude (Paradise) through proper understanding, attitude and response within the intricacies of daily life: transformation of consciousness through Grace. This book, for anyone seeking a more pervasive contemplative outlook and goal, is rooted deeply in Sacred Tradition.

Jill Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars  Paradise Man is a good book to read for a person who does not …

Paradise Man is a good book to read for a person who does not have a strictly religious background. It gives us something to reach for. Beautifully written.

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