I went to The Bookworm this evening to catch a talk by Bill Porter, aka ‘Red Pine’. I’d been planning to go for well over a month, but hadn’t thought to pre-book a ticket. As it turned out, the talk was well over-subscribed, and I was lucky to get a ticket on standby.
He was talking about his new book, Zen Baggage – a personal pilgrimage around the significant historical sites of Zen (Ch’an) Buddhism in China. I actually bought the book about six weeks ago, and I’m not going to say anything about it now as I hope to review it at some point.
Since I’ve already read it, the readings were only mildly interesting. It was the conversation afterwards that gripped me. Porter, let’s just say, has made the hard choice to follow what he loves, even though it led to poverty. I have to respect that, especially in light of the choices I’m weighing. It turns out that he’s a friend of Daniel Reid – “He turned to Daoism, I turned to Buddhism, and we balance each other out”. Apparently Reid lives in Yunnan now. I’m vaguely aware of his work, although my friends H. and S. are big fans.
Anyway, I had a brief and enlightening chat with Porter after the talk. It seems that the book for which he is most well-known, Road to Heaven, will be re-published in September this year. I’ll look forward to getting a copy. I had planned to take my copy of Zen Baggage along for him to sign but, since I was kept late at work, I didn’t get a chance. Instead, I bought a copy of Cold Mountain.
No…. NOT the American Civil War novel that got made into a film a few years back! This is the collection of Chinese poems by a Daoist, or possibly Buddhist, hermit, made famous by Jack Kerouac in The Dharma Bums. Which is where I first heard of them, and I’ve been looking for a copy ever since….