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.
359 pages. Paperback.