A moving personal story, an exciting war story, and a difficult spiritual journey, Walking the Tiger's Path offers elements of all three. For anyone looking to learn how the Buddhist path can be a useful and productive component of contemporary life, I recommend experiencing SSgt Kendel's story.”
--Ven. Wayne Hughes, Engaged Dharma
Read the full review here
Buddhism is well known for its emphasis on non-violence. Less known, but as important for our modern age, is its wisdom on how to meet and transform the poison of violence, no matter how egregious. Paul Kendel discovered these teachings, not in a classroom or as bedside reading, but on the battlefield of Iraq in 2005 where he put them into action with jaw-dropping gentleness, intelligence, and courage.
Whether you're about to deploy to a foreign country or are simply searching for real tools to deal with the fear, anger, and violence within and around you, this book provides a vivid and courageous guide to changing your world.
—Susan Piver, Author
The Wisdom of a Broken Heart
Kendel’s story is beyond unique. How can one “kill and pray” and maintain one’s own sanity and humanity. War is not glorious, rewarding or any other upbeat metaphor, war is truly “Hell.”
Rarely do civilians have an opportunity to see the true nature of war. Not the five o’clock version, but the reality. Take the time and read his story and you will understand a number of things, but PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), is my focus.
A Chef’s Cauldron! Place anyone in an unfamiliar environment throw in a dash of uncertainty, fear, and enormous stress, a pinch of unknown good and bad guys that are armed, and you have a real live stew of danger. This danger is both physical and mental. Society seems to feel a soldier can return from war and simply turn that “engine” off. He/she is not a car or television. Watching the evening news does not make you a combat veteran.
That he was able to maintain some compassion amid this quagmire speaks well of his inner self. Is Kendel a hero? Perhaps not in the sense one might identify with an Audie Murphy, but heroic to be sure in how he came to deal with all that was going on within and around him.
A soldier with conviction amid the brutality of war is worth the read. Walking the Tiger’s Path is such a story.
—Jim Greenwald, Lead Reviewer
Military Writers Society of America (MWSA)
Lawrence King interviews Paul and reviews Walking the Tiger's Path. Read the review below:
Walking the Tiger’s Path: A Soldier’s Spiritual Journey in Iraq puts you on the ground with National Guardsman Paul M. Kendel as he faces roadside bombs, ambush, and potential suicide bombers while patrolling the “Triangle of Death” outside Baghdad in 2005. Already familiar with the Middle East through travel and study, he’s acutely aware of the local people and culture around him—in a way that many American soldiers are not. As his friends start dying and the other soldiers grow embittered toward the Iraqis, he struggles to maintain his humanity and sense of compassion with his finger on the trigger.
Impulsively sending an email to the Shambhala Buddhist community, he makes a connection with an instructor, Margot Neuman, and they begin a correspondence that provides him with advice and spiritual teachings. Literally Sgt. Kendel discovers and contemplates spiritual teachings with a gun in his hands, as he makes his way through the blood-soaked, cratered landscape of a war zone. When he returns to America, he finds that his “ordinary” life is not immune to death and suffering either, affirming the principles he’s been learning and the need for compassion. In the end, he comes to a heartening place of peace and clarity.
An unusual story, Walking the Tiger’s Path combines a compelling, quick-reading, gritty military narrative with a voyage of spiritual discovery centered on principles of eastern religion. There are few, if any, stories like it in modern Buddhist literature. At the same time, it fits into the realm of classic war memoir, replete with the details of battle and the modern soldier’s life, told in a voice by turns humane, humorous, sarcastic, and thoughtful. The most natural audiences for his book, therefore, would be anyone interested in spirituality and eastern religion, as well as those interested in war stories and American military history in Iraq.
Sgt. Kendel spent three years in the Army and twenty in the National Guard. He has two master’s degrees, in anthropology and in middle-eastern history, and currently teaches high school in Jacksonville, Florida.
Listen to Paul's interview with Lawrence King on his Talk Show at Artist First Radio Network here.