Bones of the Master: A Buddhist Monk's Search for the Lost Heart of China

George Crane, Author Bantam Books $25.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-553-10650-3
Though not as widely discussed as the Cultural Revolution, China's Great Leap Forward (1957-1963) also inspired an internal struggle among Chinese Communist Party leaders. As they argued about the pace and type of development best suited for China, famine settled upon the land, killing tens of thousands and affecting millions. In 1959, the monks of Puu Jih Monastery knew they had to leave in order ""to keep Buddha's true mind alive."" Tsung Tsai, the youngest, journeyed alone through the heart of China to Hong Kong, eventually settling in Woodstock, N.Y. The story unfolds in an engaging way as author Crane befriends his quirky new neighbor, Tsung Tsai. When Tsung Tsai proposes to return to China to find the bones of his master and build a shrine, Crane follows to record the event. Despite their abbreviated poetic nature, Crane's impressions of Chinese life are some of the richest and most vivid readers will encounter. His words float like silk prayer flags at a Buddhist temple, enticing readers to explore their own spirituality. This book is the best reflection on Ch'an Buddhism to appear in quite some time. Written on multiple levels, it will appeal to readers looking for a good story, armchair travelers who want to understand more about China and spiritual seekers with an interest in Buddhism. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/31/2000
Release date: 02/01/2000
Paperback - 324 pages - 978-0-553-37908-2
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