Road to Heaven
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About the Author

Bill Porter (aka "Red Pine") is widely recognized as one of the world's preeminent translators of Chinese poetry and religious texts; he assumes the pen name "Red Pine" for his translations.

Writing as Red Pine, he was the first translator to ever translate the entirety of Han-shan's oeurve into English, published as The Collected Songs of Cold Mountain. Red Pine was also the first to translate into English the entirely of The Poems of the Masters. He has also translated several of the major Buddhist sutras, including the Heart Sutra, Diamond Sutra, and Platform Sutra.

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"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

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

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