In 1989, Bill Porter, having spent much of his life
studying and translating Chinese religious and philosophical texts,
began to wonder if the Buddhist hermit tradition still existed in China.
At the time, it was believed that the Cultural Revolution had dealt a
lethal blow to all religions in China, destroying countless temples and
shrines, and forcibly returning thousands of monks and nuns to a lay
But when Porter travels to the Chungnan mountains — the historical
refuge of ancient hermits — he discovers that the hermit tradition is
very much alive, as dozens of monks and nuns continue to lead solitary
lives in quiet contemplation of their faith deep in the mountains.
Part travelogue, part history, part sociology, and part religious
study, this record of extraordinary journeys to an unknown China sheds
light on a phenomenon unparalleled in the West. Porter’s discovery is
more than a revelation, and uncovers the glimmer of hope for the future
of religion in China.
220 pages. Paperback.