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Road to Heaven
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In this first-person narrative, the author relates his journey to seek out the religious hermits of China, who left civilization and chose to live alone as monks in the mountains of China, quietly practicing their Buddhist, Taoist, and Confucian faith. Sprinkled with Eastern religious philosophy, Chinese current affairs, and personal observations, this travel book reveals a secluded world very few people believed survived the purges of the Chinese Communists. The author wisely includes transcripts from conversations with many of the hermits, both men and women, and through their words the reader comes away with a better understanding of their lives and their reasons for deciding to live their harsh existence. This is not intended to be a scholarly study but an invitation to the public to discover this relatively unknown aspect of Chinese religious culture. Recommended for public libraries.-- Glenn Masuchika, Chaminade Univ. Lib., Honolulu

Porter, a Hong Kong-based writer whose previous books were published under the pen name Red Pine ( The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma ), lived in a Taiwanese monastery for three years in the 1970s and later translated works of some Chinese hermits long admired for their virtue. When travel to China opened up in the late 1980s, Porter began to search for hermits who might have survived under years of communism. His story is unusual, but his ``encounters''--actually, brief interviews--produce not subtle observations but statements of gnomic profundity: `` . . . the Tao is empty. It can't be explained.'' Still, Porter showed undeniable bravery as he trekked through the Chungnan Mountains in central China to interview more than 20 male and female hermits. Some hermits are circumspect about politics, having suffered under the Cultural Revolution, while others, like an 85-year-old monk who had lived in a cave for 50 years, are oblivious to the political changes. Porter's historical and literary reflections show sensitivity to his subject, but this book seems aimed only at those interested in such spiritual quests. Some of the photographs are starkly spectacular. (June)


"Bill Porter's "Road to Heaven" is a brilliant essay on the traditions of Chinese hermits, a startling reminder of how far we have gone astray. It should be a part of any serious Zen or Taoist library." --Jim Harrison

Bill Porter's "Road to Heaven" is a brilliant essay on the traditions of Chinese hermits, a startling reminder of how far we have gone astray. It should be a part of any serious Zen or Taoist library. Jim Harrison"

-Bill Porter's Road to Heaven is a brilliant essay on the traditions of Chinese hermits, a startling reminder of how far we have gone astray. It should be a part of any serious Zen or Taoist library.- --Jim Harrison

"Bill Porter's Road to Heaven is a brilliant essay on the traditions of Chinese hermits, a startling reminder of how far we have gone astray. It should be a part of any serious Zen or Taoist library." --Jim Harrison

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