Bones of the Master: A Buddhist Monk's Search for the Lost Heart of China
They are the most unlikely of friends: one an American poet in love with words, a self-described ne'er-do-well and sensualist with a finely honed suspicion of authority. The other an aging Chinese monk steeped in an ancient tradition and devoted to the memory of his ascetic meditation master. Their lives come together in this extraordinary journey that takes us from the still-medieval villages of Inner Mongolia to a modern Hong Kong of black magic and stunning materialism.
The journey begins in 1959, as a young monk named Tsung Tsai ("Ancestor Wisdom) escapes the Red Army troops that destroy his monastery, and flees alone three thousand miles across a China swept by chaos and famine. Hidden under his peasant jacket he carries a book of poetry and his monk's certificate, either of which means death if discovered. His mission: to carry on the teachings of his Ch'an Buddhist master, Shiuh Deng, who was too old to leave with his disciple.
Nearly forty years later Tsung Tsai--now an old master himself--travels with his skeptical friend Crane back to his birthplace at the edge of the Gobi Desert. China is stirring with spiritual renewal, and Tsung Tsai is determined to find Shiuh Deng's grave and build a shrine in his honor. Ignoring visa restrictions, facing down hostile bureaucrats, the two men reenter a lost world of belief and superstition nearly extinguished by history. As their search culminates in a torturous climb to a remote mountain cave, it becomes clear that this seemingly quixotic quest may cost Tsung Tsai's life.
Laced with passion and humor, Crane's vivid prose captures it all: foxy town girls and outback shamans, ice-cold morning meditations and drunken feasts, sand-scoured wilderness and gold-clad Buddhas. Finally, as past and present come together we glimpse the power of a timeless faith to endure in the heart of suffering.
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Review: Bones of the Master: A Journey to Secret MongoliaUser Review - Jessica Zu - Goodreads
Very well written. Good teaching material. the Puji Si in the book was built in late Qing by local gentries, became quite popular during the Republican China and then destroyed during CR, rebuilt in ... Read full review
Review: Bones of the Master: A Journey to Secret MongoliaUser Review - Becky Prise - Goodreads
I loved this book. I first read it for a Chinese Thought class in college. I quickly fell in love with it. Crane's writing style was very easy to follow and you could tell how much his teacher meant to him. I recommend this book whenever possible and I plan on rereading this year. Read full review
The Last Days of Puu Jih
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