A Lotus on Fire

How a Buddhist Monk Ignited My Heart

"A Lotus on Fire" 6-Week Book Study at the Martha Retreat Centre

Vickie & Doug with Deva Premal (photo by Alejandro Santiago)

A Love Letter to My Reader
(an invitation to read A Lotus on Fire)
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“We pay so much attention to the first and last breaths, but what about all the breaths in between?”
Vickie MacArthur, A Lotus on Fire

A spiritual memoir of awakening to the universality of a Love beyond culture and religion, based on Vickie’s experience with Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh and his Buddhist community.

A Lotus on Fire weaves together the passion of the Christian mystic, the calmness of the Zen Buddhist mind, and the embodied wisdom of yoga into a seamless story of peace and inter-being for all.

Sparked by a soul-searching glance from Vietnamese Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, A Lotus on Fire is a spiritual memoir that illuminates the path of awakening to the Love beyond the boundaries of body and mind, race and religion. Revealing the intimate details of her inner spiritual journey, Vickie shows how her heart-felt connection to this much revered Buddhist teacher, dissolved layers of suffering and separation to reveal the inherent oneness of life.

A Lotus on Fire is rooted in a collection of deeply personal letters Vickie wrote to her teacher while grieving the death of her mother, and also trying to understand the kind of life-changing, all-consuming love she was experiencing – the same love that mystics from all spiritual traditions struggle to describe. This love is both personal and universal, and felt as vast, loving presence.

Moving between her day-to-day life in Canada and retreats in North America and Plum Village (France), Vickie skillfully blends her ordinary lived experience with mystical moments of mindful attention. Her story traces the classic arc of the spiritual journey, from the spark of awakening in the presence of her teacher, to finally recognizing the true teacher and wisdom within.

This spiritual memoir is a tribute to Thich Nhat Hanh’s exceptional life and integrative teachings. Inspired by Thay’s life-long aspiration to inter-faith dialogue, Vickie poetically weaves together stories from her own life with the teachings and practices of both her Buddhist and Christian communities, to build bridges of shared understanding and practice.  Her personal stories reveal how these teachings take root in everyday experiences – from healing generational suffering and grieving a loved one, to reclaiming a more holistic and embodied spirituality.

Struggling with the Buddhist philosophy of non-attachment and letting go of desire, Vickie learns to sit with the feelings of intense love and longing she has for God. Finally, she is able to integrate the calmness of the Zen Buddhist mind with the passion of the Christian mystic’s heart. Following in the footsteps of saints and mystics the world over, she learns that these feelings of love and devotion to God or guru can be a path of skillful means to finally dissolving into the pure heart of Love.

In revealing the subtle mystical connection between spiritual teachers and students, Vickie reclaims the deep love and inherent gifts that seem to have been lost in the traditional teacher/disciple relationship. Ultimately she discovers that the true teacher is a mirror reflecting our own pure essence. What she saw in Thay’s eyes is what she wants to reflect back to the world. Like any good memoir, Vickie’s story turns out to be a collective story – revealing what is available to us all when we open our hearts to the intimacy and universality of a Love that knows no bounds.

Praise for A Lotus on Fire

The seed of devotion begins with a time when you feel seen and loved unconditionally. That’s the gift of the true teacher or guru. That seed is nourished by our practice, and by cultivating that depth of love in every moment of our life. In A Lotus on Fire, Vickie reveals the tender and devotional love that was ignited in one moment of awakening with Vietnamese Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, and how that love slowly expands to embrace the whole world.

Deva Premal and Miten, Grammy-nominated mantra singers and devotional musicians

In A Lotus on Fire, Vickie MacArthur invites us into her expanding heart. An unexpected meeting with Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh brought her face to face with love, vulnerability, and compassion. Vickie invites us all to consider how merging the practices of Christian love and Zen insight might expand our own hearts.

Jonathan Prescott, Clinical Chaplain and Pastoral Counselor, Ordained Student of Thich Nhat Hanh, Founder of Wise Care-Giving

In A Lotus on Fire, Vickie offers us rich and vulnerable prose on how she brought her kensho, a moment of enlightenment, into her family, her community, and her life. Joseph Campbell describes this as the journey of the hero, how we come down from the mountain and integrate this into our life. Vickie reminds us that it is not the seeing of God that is important, but the doing and the being of the presence of love in the world. Lovingly and skillfully, Vickie braids the teachings and practices of yoga, Christianity, and Buddhism into a seamless story of inter-being for all. She is a wise guide to the great mystery, and how to live authentically in the world with a heart undisturbed, dwelling in peace, amidst the inevitable ups and downs of life.

Dr. Peggy Rowe Ward, Senior Dharma Teacher in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh, Co-author of Making Friends with Time and Love’s Garden