Zen Baggage: A Pilgrimage to China (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

The inimitable Red Pine on the trail of the first patriarchs of Zen. FULL ON CHINA at its best and Porter at his best: relaxed, avuncular, full of trenchant insights on the human condition and the Void. Warm and rich with droll, understated humor. Not everyone gets to wake up the Master-at-arms of the Shaolin Temple at the crack of dawn, demanding answers ... one of Porter's many adventures.

— From Jesse


In the spring of 2006, Bill Porter traveled through the heart of China, from Beijing to Hong Kong, on a pilgrimage to sites associated with the first six patriarchs of Zen. In Zen Baggage, Porter takes readers to places few Westerners have ever ventured, weaving together historical background, interviews, and translations of the earliest known records of Zen along with personal vignettes into a fascinating tale of discovery.

Porter's account captures the transformations taking place at religious centers in China but also the legacy they have somehow managed to preserve. Porter brings wisdom and humor to every situation, whether visiting ancient caves containing the most complete collection of Buddhist texts ever uncovered, enduring a six-hour Buddhist ceremony, or meeting the abbess of China's first Zen nunnery.

Porter's Road to Heaven: Encounters with Hermits has become recommended reading at Zen centers and universities throughout America and even in China (in its Chinese translation), and Zen Baggage is sure to follow suit.

Praise For…

“Porter takes the reader to places far off the tourist track and far from the economic and political frenzy of major cities, traveling on buses and sleeping rough in monasteries. He does it without pedantry or zeal and with some humor.” —Library Journal

Product Details
ISBN: 9781582435404
ISBN-10: 1582435405
Publisher: Counterpoint LLC
Publication Date: January 13th, 2010
Pages: 359
Language: English