Questions of Heaven: The Chinese Journeys of an American Buddhist (Concord Library)

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9780807073117: Questions of Heaven: The Chinese Journeys of an American Buddhist (Concord Library)

A Haunting pilgrimage to one of China's holy mountains
"Ehrlich . . . writes with tremendous grace and passion."
—Miles Harvey, Outside

"In spare, lyrical prose, Ehrlich inventively recounts her 1995 spiritual trip to China and Tibet. . . . Like one of the landscape paintings of which she writes, Ehrlich's book is at once delicate, deeply considered and moving." 
Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Ehrlich's highly personal travelogue centers on her attempt to find what remains of [the] once-flourishing spiritual culture in the sacred mountains of western China. . . . [Ehrlich] intersperses her personal narrative with bits of the intellectual, political, historical and spiritual." 
—Alexandra Hall, The New York Times Book Review

"If Questions of Heaven has a message, it may reside in the author's belief in a bond across geography and generations, one transcending space and time." 
—David L. Ulin, The Village Voice

"This is travel writing at its best." —Glenn Masuchika, Library Journal

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Review:

As a practicing Buddhist, Gretel Ehrlich set out to climb Emie Shan, a sacred Buddhist mountain in China, to complete a personal spiritual quest. What she came away with was an understanding of the brutal effects of Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution on China's Buddhist population, and the politics and bitter realities of the collision between modernity and monastic life. Written in a lively and thoughtful style with plenty of exciting passages, Questions of Heaven chronicles Ehrlich's journey through China and its recent turbulent history in such a personal way that it draws the reader closer to the subject. From her conversations with monks and a heartbreaking visit to a panda refuge, Ehrlich discovers that the ancient Buddhist tradition lives on, though not in the manner she anticipated. Silencing both Buddhism and Taoism changed the complexion of China in unexpected ways, and this journal exposes the subtleties of this shift from the perspective of one who is able to bridge the cultural and political differences with her spiritual attachment.

From Kirkus Reviews:

A brief but valuable narrative of travel by essayist Ehrlich (A Match to the Heart, 1994, etc.), exploring the sacred and the profane in contemporary China. Ehrlich's search for an authentic Chinese culture and spirituality at first leads only to frustration. She climbs Emeishan, a mountain sacred in both Buddhist and Taoist traditions, only to find it overrun by crass commercialism. The few monks who operate a guesthouse for pilgrims don't impress Ehrlich as being very devout; instead, they are obsessed with TV. When she reaches the peak, she finds partially constructed ``Las Vegasstyle'' hotels and aggressive, ravenous monkeys who steal food and jewelry from tourists. Ehrlich suggests that much of this shambles can be traced back to Mao's Cultural Revolution, which irrevocably destroyed many of the remaining elements of an ancient culture. The second half of the book offers a slightly more optimistic view. Ehrlich travels to Lijiang, a remote city in the mountains near Tibet, and discovers a stubborn, persistent strain of ancient Chinese culture. She meets an aged musician who was imprisoned for 20 years by Mao and kept his sanity while in isolation by singing Taoist melodies to himself. Now free, his commitment to preserving elements of Chinese culture has led to the formation of a small orchestra, which has revived ancient musical traditions. In the book's last pages, Ehrlich travels with the orchestra to London on their first international trip, bringing the music of a lost culture to the West. The book is a fine travelogue but would have been more compelling if the author had provided a bit more on her own spiritual journey. In all, though, a worthy read. (3 b&w illustrations, not seen) (Quality Paperback Book Club selection; regional author tour) -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Book Description Beacon Press, United States, 1998. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****. Gretel Ehrlich s path leads her to Sichuan and Yunnan Provinces in western China to climb Emei Shan, one of China s four sacred Buddhist mountains. For Ehrlich, a practicing Buddhist, the climb is both a spiritual pilgrimage and a troubling encounter with a culture reeling from recent political history. Ehrlich visits Buddhist lamas who, until recently, were in hiding from the purges of the Cultural Revolution, and she travels to a panda refuge in the mountains northwest of Chengdu - in both cases trying to unravel the ultimate fate of these once-revered symbols. All roads to paradise first pass through purgatory. In perhaps the most hair-raising car-trip narrative in recent travel literature, Ehrlich writes of her journey from the southwestern city of Kunming over the Burma Road and on to Lijiang - an isolated mountain town which does in the end fulfill Ehrlich s hopes for cultural and spiritual revival, and where she learns from an unlikely group of Naxi sacred musicians that music is medicine and that profound healing requires profound faith. Bookseller Inventory # AAV9780807073117

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Book Description Beacon Press, United States, 1998. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****.Gretel Ehrlich s path leads her to Sichuan and Yunnan Provinces in western China to climb Emei Shan, one of China s four sacred Buddhist mountains. For Ehrlich, a practicing Buddhist, the climb is both a spiritual pilgrimage and a troubling encounter with a culture reeling from recent political history. Ehrlich visits Buddhist lamas who, until recently, were in hiding from the purges of the Cultural Revolution, and she travels to a panda refuge in the mountains northwest of Chengdu - in both cases trying to unravel the ultimate fate of these once-revered symbols. All roads to paradise first pass through purgatory. In perhaps the most hair-raising car-trip narrative in recent travel literature, Ehrlich writes of her journey from the southwestern city of Kunming over the Burma Road and on to Lijiang - an isolated mountain town which does in the end fulfill Ehrlich s hopes for cultural and spiritual revival, and where she learns from an unlikely group of Naxi sacred musicians that music is medicine and that profound healing requires profound faith. Bookseller Inventory # AAV9780807073117

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Book Description Beacon Press (MA). Paperback. Book Condition: New. 144 pages. Dimensions: 8.2in. x 5.5in. x 0.4in.A Haunting pilgrimage to one of Chinas holy mountains Ehrlich . . . writes with tremendous grace and passion. Miles Harvey, OutsideIn spare, lyrical prose, Ehrlich inventively recounts her 1995 spiritual trip to China and Tibet. . . . Like one of the landscape paintings of which she writes, Ehrlichs book is at once delicate, deeply considered and moving. Publishers Weekly, starred reviewEhrlichs highly personal travelogue centers on her attempt to find what remains of the once-flourishing spiritual culture in the sacred mountains of western China. . . . Ehrlich intersperses her personal narrative with bits of the intellectual, political, historical and spiritual. Alexandra Hall, The New York Times Book ReviewIfQuestions of Heavenhas a message, it may reside in the authors belief in a bond across geography and generations, one transcending space and time. David L. Ulin, The Village VoiceThis is travel writing at its best. Glenn Masuchika, Library Journal This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Paperback. Bookseller Inventory # 9780807073117

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