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Road to Heaven: Encounters with Chinese Hermits Paperback – 1 Jun 1993

4.2 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 228 pages
  • Publisher: Mercury House; 1st Edition Thus edition (1 Jun. 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1562790412
  • ISBN-13: 978-1562790417
  • Product Dimensions: 22.8 x 15.1 x 1.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 218,515 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Review

"[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" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Steven R. Johnson is a leading photographer, specializing in landscapes of China and his work is included in books including "The Road to Heaven". --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is a magical book. It transports the reader to an appreciation of old China - that existed thousands of years ago, and continued to exist up until 1949. The author, Bill Porter, whilst living in a Buddhist monastery in Taiwan, decided to travel to mainland China in May of 1989, in search of any still existing hermits of the Chinese religious systems. In so doing, inadvertently, Porter witnessed the political turmoil of the time, that culminated in the tragic events surrounding the student pro-democracy demonstrations in Tienanmen Square of the same year. This book does not dwell on these events, but meanders through valleys and climbs mountains throughout central and southeast China in search of the isolated holy ones. Porter is assisted on this quest by photographer Steven R Johnson.

The paperback (1993) edition contains 220 numbered pages, numerous photographs and illustrations, a list of Chinese dynasties and republics, and 12 chapters:

1) Hermit Heaven.
2) Mountains of the Moon.
3) If the World is Muddy.
4) On the Trail of the Tao.
5) Sound of the Crane.
6) Road to Heaven.
7) Cloud People.
8) The Bird That Is the Mountain.
9) Crossing Heartbreak Ridge.
10) Home of the Evening Star.
11) Visiting Wang Wei, Finding Hime Gone.
12) When the Tao Comes to Town.

This book firmly establishes the fact that despite the political upheavel China and her people have experienced over the last 100 years, and despite the changes in ideology, nevertheless, the tradition of the Chinese hermit still persists. Porter describes how he encountered an old man living in a cave who had been there since 1939, and had never heard the name 'Mao Zedong'. The local villagers supported him with food and clothing.
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Format: Paperback
Road to Heaven: Encounters with Chinese Hermits is an extraordinary tale of one man's persistance to delve deeply into the journey of solitude taken by master's of the art. His profiles of Chinese hermits offer glimpses into the lives of these men that inspire the search that many of us make to live lives that make room for solitude whether it is for a few minutes, hours or days. While most of us cannot or will not retreat deep into the mountains or forests to enter solitude, this book reminds us that each can make his own journey inward and find meaning in even the briefest moments of solitude. This rich tapestry of stories shows that there is as many ways to embrace and honor solitude as there are people who seek it.
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By A Customer on 4 Oct. 2004
Format: Paperback
I'm not entirely sure what the reader from Linthicum, MD expected out of a book of travel writing if not stories of the author's travels. My only criticism of Porter's book is that we don't get enough of what makes this book most interesting, not the long-winded histories of ancient China but the more-personal anecdotes, the conversations between himself and the hermits he encounters on his search. For me, these were the most memorable parts of the book, and I found myself skimming through the background information to get back to precisely what the previous reader has criticised: Porter writing about where he went, how he got there, and whom he met.

Porter travels between numerous monasteries-turned-tourist-destinations enquiring as he goes about those who have fled the noise of modernity and taken up the eremitic lifestyle. His successes are few but fascinating, as Porter follows his leads off the beaten path and treks across forbidding landscapes in search of hermits that preserve a bit of ancient China, recluses whom China's Cultural Revolution has passed by unnoticed (like the monk who wonders about this 'Chairman Mao' Porter keeps mentioning). In the end, Porter's book reflects what you'd expect of China's Buddhist and Taoist hermits: They are few and far between, and their homes remote and well isolated. But the few treasures that Porter does uncover makes his book well worth the read.
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