Final Word from Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Part of the action in Terry Hayes's "I am Pilgrim" takes place in Prague, but this isn't the only reason to read the celebrated thriller. Among all the killing and plotting is some deep philosophy. The hero meets a Buddhist monk who tells him how Thai villagers capture monkeys for food. They chain a ewer - a vase with a narrow neck and bulbous bottom - to a tree and fill it with nuts. A monkey descends from the trees at night and slips his hand down the long neck. He grabs the nuts and makes a fist. Not being able to remove his fist, he's trapped. The villagers come round in the morning and hit him on the head. "It's a Zen story, of course," said the monk. "The point is: If you want to be free, all you have to do is let go." Twenty-five years ago, Czechs had to let go of some things - low rent, cheap milk - to be free from Communism. What will they give up - or refuse to give up - in 2015 to retain or build on their current degree of freedom? [Czech Republic Buddhism new year Thailand]

Glossary of difficult words

to plot - to secretly make plans to carry out (an illegal or harmful action);

bulbous - resembling a bulb in shape; rounded or swollen; bulging;

to let go - to release, to release one's hold on something.

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