My Journey

Xin hân hạnh giới thiệu đến các anh chị tập thơ "My Journey" của anh Trần Trí Năng.
Anh Trần Trí Năng (Exryu 68 - Kyushukodai) hiện đang sinh sống và làm việc tại Minesota - USA.
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Be mindful, relaxed and free .

Every morning begins a new day .

A fresh journey

to start .

- Binh An Tran, My Journey



"My Journey"
Author: Binh An Tran
Dorrance Publishing 2002
Softcover 148pp - $10
University of Minnesota faculty books
Barnes & Nobles online

Book Description  ( )

Reflections upon the new millennium, discussions of the impermanence of existence, musings on the future of humanity and technology, and much more make up the themes that are illustrated in verse by Binh An Tran in My Journey. A physicist and a poet with a practive in Zen meditation, Tran provides insights from his life that has spanned many years and several continents. And, since My Journey chronicles one man’s life in Asia as well as the west, many poems are presented first in Vietnamese, then in English to give the full flavor of what living a life in two cultures is like.

While this is a collection of thoughts from one man’s journey, it is sure to inform, aid, and lighten the journey of anyone who reads it.

Living Peace, October 22, 2003

 Reviewer: A reader from Pennsylvania, USA 

Poetry is a wonderful way to express our feeling and thinking; it can carry what we say and what we do not say. I found quite intersting in reading " My Journey " by Binh An Tran. I could read both Vietnamese and English and could share with Binh An Tran his feeling and enjoyment of an early morning near the peaceful lake. He is not longing for peace; he is living peace in those present moments. Binh An in Vietnamese means Peace, Doing Well, Being Safe... We are living in the world with turmoil, people kill each other under the names of religion, skin colors..., people are so mad these days that they do not care about human lifes, even their own! People must learn how to enjoy those present moments with peace, with our own reflection. Throughout " my Journey", we can see that the poet has digested the teachings of Buddhism, such as Selflessness, Impermanence, Living in the Presence...

A Zen poem collection, July 17, 2003

 Reviewer: David Cheng from California, USA 

This book covers many topics ranging from humanity, American society as a melting pot to the author's personal experience with the "Journey" so-called life. More than 1/3 of the book was written in the Haiku forms which give the readers a Zen-like relaxed feeling. When I read these poems, I have a feeling that I too do the "walking meditation" with the author along the lake or into the beauty of Nature in the trail near his house. The Japanese concept of Wabi-Sabi reflects throughout the book in its simplicity and in the choice of everyday's mediocre subjects. It seems to me that the author enjoys nature and the "present moment".

“Enjoy the moment”

By Tom LaVenture

A poet must stay in the moment to fully appreciate what it is they are experiencing, says Binh An Tran, who published his third book of poetry, and the first with an English translation, called "My Journey." The book is a recording of observations and experiences from his boyhood in Vietnam, through 11 years in Japan, and the past 24 years in the United States.

Binh An Tran (the pen name of Nang Tri Tran) is a combination of the words "Binh" and "An" from the province, and the town respectively in Viet Nam where he was born. "Binh An" also means "peace and tranquility."

Tran offers a refreshing outlook on life, with the simplicity and clarity of someone who stops to smell the roses despite a profession that could easily absorb all of his attention.

"Throughout this journey, I wrote several poems in Vietnamese, Japanese and English, and My Journey is a collection of these poems," said Nang. "In My Journey I tried to express my personal view about life, society, my living philosophy both as an American and as an immigrant. More than one-third of the book was written in the form of Haiku which is the Japanese poem style that I had picked up (together with Zen meditation) during my stay in Japan."

The journey of this scientist and poet, husband and father is interesting enough to tell on its own, and illustrates how Tran's imagination was fueled by his experience.

Nang Tran is employed by Imation where his contributions include a direct digital x-ray imaging system used in chest and breast diagnosis. He is listed in Who's Who in America and Who's Who in Science and Engineering. He is also an adjunct professor at the Department of Electrical and Computer Sciences, University of Minnesota.

Tran indulged in poetry as a child. Writing is a popular hobby in Viet Nam, and with the lack of other entertainment, he found it to be a joyful pastime. He embraced the works of Ngo Xuan (1916 - 1985), who under the name Xu穗 Di黏 became a pioneer in Viet Nam's modern poetic trend around the mid century.  Tran appreciated  the sweet, soft and gentle _expression of the love poems.

"His writing style influenced mine significantly," he said.

Nang built quite a collection of poetry, only to lose it all to a big flood and a fire.

At age 18, in 1968, the Government of South Viet Nam sent Tran to Japan on a full scholarship to study physics and engineering. He was to receive another scholarship (USAID) to study in United States. The Tet Offensive began and the US trip was postponed indefinitely. Upon completion of his undergraduate education he received a graduate school scholarship from the Japanese government.

"I decided to go to Japan instead," said Nang. "All my education was in Japan."

The cultural shock of life as a student in Japan did not allow time for poetry. Nang had to learn Japanese to do well in his studies there. After three years he became fluent and eventually found time to reflect and write once again.

Tran developed an appreciation for the Japanese Zen Monk Matsuo Basho (1644-1694), whom history credits with taking haiku from a crude form and developing it into the three-line, 17-syllable form that sprung the literary tradition that exists to this day.

He would blend the haiku form with his Vietnamese style, which he says does not have a name, but a tradition based in part on Chinese Tao influence. He is also influenced by the Kado (way of flowers) style, an 8-8-7-7-7-syllable discipline that is popular in Vietnam.

"Most of my poetry was in Vietnamese to start with, and as my Japanese language started to get better I began to write in Japanese as well," he said. "I write to relax the mind. I am very much influenced by the Zen meditation. The Japanese culture reflected a lot in my writing too."

His observations are refreshing and life affirming perspectives on everyday life. He speaks with the innocence of a child looking at the hard realities that life has in store. He writes with a sense of awe and appreciation for nature, and with people, whether relationships or prioritizing the simple disciplines that keeps up from becoming to self-absorbed amidst the pressures of a modern world.

"That is the essence of Taoism and Buddhism," he said. "You need to think like a child. I think people who can think like a child are the happiest people in the world. Think about it. Everyday we have a lot of frustrations with our job and with everything. If you can give yourself a moment where you can live innocently and don't think too much, you'll be lucky."

His daily regimen includes an early walk around the lake, with an occasional stop to his favorite bench next to the water. He doesn't allow himself to look forward to the responsibilities of the day, but to enjoy the moment.

"Open your mind and be mindful of what is happening to the things around you," he said.

Nang came to the United States in March 1979, and was to work at Harvard University as a postdoctoral fellow. He wound up working at the University of California at Irvine, where he continues to receive invitations to teach.

"You see, this is something strange about my life," said Tran. "Planning something and getting something else instead.

"'L'homme propose and Dieu dipose", as one likes to say it in French," he added.

Nang was then 0destined for the Twin Cities and its high-tech industries. He worked first with 3M and then with its spin-off company Imation. His contributions include several patented inventions, including a direct digital x-ray imaging system used in chest and breast diagnosis in hospitals worldwide.

Tran says there are many factors that feed his creativity. His enjoys his work in science and the writing helps to relax his mind. He says science that as science is trying to figure out the laws of nature through discovery, poetry is the same thing, and that he loves to intermix science, physics, and poetry in his writing.

"I write to express certain aspects that I cannot in science," he said. "For example, in writing in philosophy I express in Zen meditation the aspect of imperfection. You don't see anything perfect in life, right? Impermanent, or lacking permanence, that is part of Buddhism."

At work, and at home, he practices the same discipline of remaining in the moment. Once everyone is in bed and the house is silent, in late evening or early morning, is his time to write.

"You have to be in the mood to write," he said. "I can write 10, 20, or 30 poems straight. But, sometimes for even one month I don't write anything.

"Don't force it. It wouldn't be natural. Sometimes I don’t have material to write so I stop writing for a while," he added.

He added that to write he must "live the moment," and not sit try to write while thinking ahead about what he will be doing hours later. He says this practice is easier said that done, but with discipline has helped his work and writing very much. Regardless of the spiritual aspects, he said this helps the heart and nervous system, and reduces the tendency to become upset easily.

Tran wrote this book with the purpose of expressing his point of view to a larger audience, to include the English speaking community. He also wants this to be a benchmark in his life, and the book will draw the line from his past and from this point forward.

"That is the only intention I have. I do not have any intentions of making a profit or anything, not at all."

What he does hope for is feedback on his writing from people of all walks of life. He believes this will also help his publisher gauge the value of his next book he hopes to have read for print in a couple of years. This book will have more reflections on life in Minnesota, and particularly the Frogtown/Midway neighborhoods.

"This society has a lot of material if you want to look for it," he said.

He and his wife, Thu-Huong, live in Lake Elmo with their four children, two in college and the other two in high school. He is active at the Phat An Buddhist Temple in Roseville. He enjoys meditation, jogging, walking, and cross-country skiing. With his wife he enjoys ballroom dancing and flower arranging together.


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