People: Jan. 17, 1969

In Saigon, the young Buddhist disciple murmured "I am Tao" as he drew designs from the book of I Ching on the palm of his hand. But could that be a Yank accent? It was indeed. John Steinbeck Jr., 22, son of the late novelist, has dropped out into a dingy Saigon flat in order to follow his yen for Zen. His teacher: Nguyen Thanh Nam, a mystic generally known as the "Coconut Monk," after his habit of meditating perched atop a palm tree in the middle of an island in the Mekong River. Young Steinbeck and his guru have pursued...

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