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14 March 2013

A Chant to Soothe Wild Elephants

A Chant to Soothe Wild Elephants by Jaed Coffin is the story of one multicultural man's journey to connect with half of his heritage.

Jaed Coffin was born to a Thai mother and American father. He grew up in Brunswick, Maine with visits to his mother's home village of Ponomsarakram, Thailand. Each trip to Thailand reminded him of how American he was and each trip home left him wondering how he could become more Thai.

Once his grandfather died, his mother no longer took him to Thailand, but at his grandfather's funeral a monk asked his mother to send him back to spend time at the temple when he grew up. Years later in college, Jaed decided to spend some time being a monk to find his Thai heritage.

Knowing few words in the language, and after years of not seeing his Thai relatives, Jaed traveled to Panomsarakram. He was initiated as a Buddhist monk, shaved his head and donned orange robes.

For three months, Jaed stayed at the temple. A Chant to Soothe Elephant is the story of that time in his life and what he learned and failed to learn as a monk, how he connected and failed to connect to Thai culture and the time spent learning to meditate, or not.

Coffin, Jaed. (2008). A Chant to Soothe Wild Elephants. Philadelphia: DeCapo.

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