Walking the Tiger's Path: A Soldier's Spiritual Journey in Iraq


Paul M. Kendel (SSG Ret.) deployed with his National Guard unit out of Georgia to Iraq in 2005 hoping to use his knowledge of that land to bridge the gap between American soldiers and Iraqi civilians. However, the realities of war crushed his idealism when his buddies began dying at the hands of the enemy six weeks after their arrival. Eventually, his ongoing concern for the Iraqi people alienated some of his comrades, and he felt the sting of growing conflict within himself.


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Walking the Tigers Path: A Soldier's Spiritual Journey in Iraq

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Paul M. Kendel (SSG Ret.) deployed with his National Guard unit out of Georgia to Iraq in 2005 hoping to use his knowledge of that land to bridge the gap between American soldiers and Iraqi civilians. However, the realities of war crushed his idealism when his buddies began dying at the hands of the enemy six weeks after their arrival. Eventually, his ongoing concern for the Iraqi people alienated some of his comrades, and he felt the sting of growing conflict within himself.

Turning to the books on Buddhist teachings he had brought with him, he found solace in the written words, but he longed for more. On a whim, he emailed Shambhala International and requested assistance. An unexpected response and ongoing support from Buddhist teacher and meditation instructor Margot Neuman helped him to retain a sane and humble humanity in a situation that often plummeted into lethal insanity.

This book addresses the horrors of war from an extraordinary human perspective. SSG. Kendel did not lose his compassion in the face of grave risk, nor did he endanger fellow soldiers while he remained true to himself—rare feats in our violent world.

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Editorial Reviews

Jim Greenwald
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.
Military Writers Society of America

Wayne (Ren Cheng) Hughes
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.
Engaged Dharma
Judith Toy
Within the chaos, Kendel manages to find beauty in taking simple bread and tea with poor Iraqi families, and beauty in the land itself, the cradle of civilization.
True Door of Peace
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780984154357
  • Publisher: Tendril Press, LLC
  • Publication date: 9/5/2011
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 1,453,857
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Paul M. Kendel's (SSG Ret.) first experience with the current “War on Terror” began with a deployment to Saudi Arabia with the California National Guard following 9/11. In 2005, the military deployed him to Iraq. He had been in Baghdad only a short time before he felt besieged with doubts regarding the U.S. presence in that region and saw little progress in winning the hearts and minds' of the Iraqi people as he witnessed the hardships the American military placed on their way of life.

Disillusioned with the aggression overwhelming some of the members of his military unit and inspired by Sakyong Mipham's book Turning the Mind Into an Ally, he sent an email to Shambhala International, who connected him with Margot Neuman of the Ratna Peace Initiative (formerly Ratna Prison Initiative.) They corresponded throughout his deployment, and upon his return home, he deepened his involvement in the Shambhala Community through programs with the Sakyong Mipham, President Richard Reoch and Pema Chodron.

Following his return from combat in the spring of 2006, SSG Kendel spent the next three years dealing with the end of his marriage, the loss of his mother from cancer, and the friends who died in Iraq. During this period, he delved deeply into the Shambhala Buddhist teachings and the practice of meditation.

January 2009, found SSG. Kendel training for a deployment to Afghanistan. During that training, he aggravated a previous injury and did not deploy with his men. He spent the next ten months on active duty recovering from his injuries and spending quality time with his two young sons. Released from active duty in March 2010, he is currently teaching world history and special education at Andrew Jackson High School in Jacksonville, Florida. SSG. Kendel holds an M.A. in both History and Anthropology. He is actively working

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 3, 2012

    A great read!

    This is a soldier's candid account of serving in the war in Iraq, while trying to stay on a spiritual path. As one who has not served in the military, I was intrigued by the inside look at what it's like in a war zone. Trying to maintain a spiritual path myself, I was very interested in and sympathetic to the special challenges his circumstances posed. Fascinating and eye-opening!

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  • Posted October 30, 2011

    Awakening Through Suffering--A Must-Read for Americans of All Faiths

    SSG. Kendel describes his path amidst the horrors of war with candor and compassion. How encouraging it is to know that as one leans into his suffering, he is able to see more clearly the gifts of enlightenment.

    As one reads his memoirs one comes to understand how crucial it is to dedicate one's life to compassion. SSG. Kendel's descriptions of the war in Iraq are heartfelt and indeed thought provoking. Many nights while reading his work I laid awake thinking about his words, and how different this society in the United States could be if each of us applied the practices of loving kindness and compassion to those around us. The world would clearly be a different place!

    All Americans should read this work to understand that war is not as easy as simply sending thousands of soldiers to defend our democracy. It is complicated, heartwrenching, and scarring. SSG. Kendel's work teaches us that in the midst of this, one can learn that violence is not the path, that by hurting others who ultimately want the same out of life that we do does not place us on to the path of awakening.

    Yet what is so profound about his story is that he was able to see the Buddhanature within his spirit and begin his journey on the path to enlightenment.

    Thank you SSG. Kendel for sharing your most personal experiences with us!

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  • Posted September 7, 2011

    Great Read - Candid and Entertaining

    Paul Kendel's memoir of his time in Iraq is a entertaining and candid look at what many of us do not get an opportunity to see through the nightly news. Sgt. Kendel highlights the harsh realities of war while simultaneously pointing out some of the ridiculous aspects as well. Sometimes funny, other times depressing, Kendel does a great job of hooking the reader and making you want to start "just one more chapter."

    Sgt. Kendel does a good job of blending his personal struggles, both at home and with his role in the war, while also allowing the reader to get a picture of life on the ground in Iraq. Like other wartime memoirs, Sgt. Kendel manages to paint a picture of what soldiers actually experience, but his journey is distinctly different and therefore worth a glance.

    This is a good book to read if you like history, firsthand accounts of wartime activities or just want to be entertained.

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