Road to Heaven: Encounters with Chinese Hermits

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9780712662154: Road to Heaven: Encounters with Chinese Hermits

In 1989, Bill Porter, having spent much of his life studying and translating Chinese religious and philosophical texts, began to wonder if the Buddhist hermit tradition still existed in China. At the time, it was believed that the Cultural Revolution had dealt a lethal blow to all religions in China, destroying countless temples and shrines, and forcibly returning thousands of monks and nuns to a lay life.

But when Porter travels to the Chungnan mountains the historical refuge of ancient hermits he discovers that the hermit tradition is very much alive, as dozens of monks and nuns continue to lead solitary lives in quiet contemplation of their faith deep in the mountains.

Part travelogue, part history, part sociology, and part religious study, this record of extraordinary journeys to an unknown China sheds light on a phenomenon unparalleled in the West. Porter’s discovery is more than a revelation, and uncovers the glimmer of hope for the future of religion in China.

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Review:

From 1966 to 1976 the malevolent rage of the Chinese Cultural Revolution struck a devastating blow to all religions in China, destroying countless temples and shrines that had stood for centuries and forcibly returning thousands of monks and nuns to lay life. Bill Porter had been told that the venerable hermetic tradition in China had also succumbed, but he went looking anyway. What he found, Taoist and Buddhist monks and nuns living in huts and caves deep in the mountains of central China, is more than a revelation, it is a glimmer of hope for the future of religion in China.

From Kirkus Reviews:

Porter, who as ``Red Pine'' has written several studies of Eastern religions (The Zen Teachings of Bodhidharma, 1989, etc.-- not reviewed), now clambers over the Chugnan mountains of central China in search of solitary mystics and saints. The author sets out in the spring of 1989 with photographer Steven Johnson, and immediately runs up against Beijing's official line that hermits no longer exist in China. But of course they do, and by bumping from mountain to mountain and knocking on one monastery door after another, Porter ferrets out nearly two dozen examples of what he calls ``the happiest and wisest people in China.'' Some readers may balk at Porter's description, for while a number of the hermits--mostly elderly Buddhist monks, though a few are nuns, young, or Taoist--radiate bliss, others talk of loneliness or sorrow. And while some offer simple truths (``If you don't practice, you achieve nothing''), others bat away Porter's questions (`` `What sort of practice do you do?'... Chi-Ch'eng: `I just pass the time' ''), or slip from truth to truism (``If someone is drowning and you can't swim, it doesn't do any good to jump in yourself''). But this matters little, since the hermits are charming and, in any case, the bulk of Porter's narrative consists not of hermit-chat but of a loose blend of history and travelogue. Porter unfolds a dizzying panorama of cliffs and valleys, crumbling monasteries and canny abbots, all the while discoursing on the rise of Taoism, its encounter with Buddhism, the lives of past hermits, the outlines of Tantra. Lessons emerge: the value of silence; the need to balance inner practice with community service; the differing aims of hermits, with some of them questing after immortality, others seeking escape from illusion. As travelogue/history, cluttered; as ethnographic resource, unique--and as for those hermits, they're the salt of the earth. (Thirty-three b&w photographs) -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Porter, Bill
Editorial: Rider & Co (1994)
ISBN 10: 0712662154 ISBN 13: 9780712662154
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Descripción Rider & Co, 1994. Estado de conservación: Very Good. 1st. Ships from the UK. Former Library book. Great condition for a used book! Minimal wear. Nº de ref. de la librería GRP63639952

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Porter, Bill
ISBN 10: 0712662154 ISBN 13: 9780712662154
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Descripción Estado de conservación: acceptable. 440 Gramm. Nº de ref. de la librería M00712662154-B

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Porter, Bill
Editorial: Rider & Co (1994)
ISBN 10: 0712662154 ISBN 13: 9780712662154
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Descripción Rider & Co, 1994. Paperback. Estado de conservación: Acceptable. Highlighting/Underlining/Notes etc. Some shelf wear. Satisfaction 100% guaranteed. Nº de ref. de la librería mon0000985243

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Porter, Bill
Editorial: Rider & Co
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Descripción Rider & Co. PAPERBACK. Estado de conservación: Good. 0712662154 Item in good condition. Textbooks may not include supplemental items i.e. CDs, access codes etc. Nº de ref. de la librería Z0712662154Z3

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Porter, Bill
Editorial: Rider, London (1994)
ISBN 10: 0712662154 ISBN 13: 9780712662154
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BOOKBARROW (PBFA member)
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Descripción Rider, London, 1994. Paperback. Estado de conservación: Very Good. Photo's Ilustrador. First U.K. Edition. prefaced by list of Chinese Dynasties & republics & also line-drawn map of Sian area & Chungnan Mountains; b/w. photo's. throuout taken by Steven R. Johnson & the author; Throughout Chinese history, hermits have always been the most respected men and women of society. Living beyond the city walls, in the mountains, they followed the Buddhist/Taoist tradition of solitary contemplation. The last few decades. however, have seen immense political and social changes in the country. After the long years of revolution, war and oppression, could hermits still exist in the China of today? To find out, Bill Porter, a distinguished writer and translator, undertook an incredible and: at times, arduous journey amongst the Chungnan Mountains. Here, he discovered this ancient form of religious asceticism does indeed continue and was able to listen to the life histories and wisdom of its practitioners. The result is a fascinating blend of Eastern Philosophy, Chinese current affairs and superb photographs, as well as personal observations of these isolated people who can 'talk to heaven'; slight wear to corners;previous owner's name inside cover; otherwise a clean, tight copy; 221 pages plus additional notes. Size: 8vo - over 7¾" - 9¾" tall. Illustrator: Photo's. Quantity Available: 1. Category: Religion & Theology; Oriental Philosophy; Buddhism/Taoism/Zen; Chungnan Mountains; China; Travel & Places. ISBN: 0712662154. ISBN/EAN: 9780712662154. Pictures of this item not already displayed here available upon request. Inventory No: EST00052. Nº de ref. de la librería EST00052

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Porter, Bill
Editorial: Rider, London (1994)
ISBN 10: 0712662154 ISBN 13: 9780712662154
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Descripción Rider, London, 1994. Soft cover. Estado de conservación: Very Good. No Jacket. A clean, unmarked copy. Nº de ref. de la librería 002821

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