george crane's 'bones of the master'

i’ve just waited too long to write this review. this read was so sweet with it’s pain. my relevant critical memory fails me. it’s about a raw grumbly poet of a hu’man traipsing through china with a tender brilliant aging monk. here’s a worthy review by kathleen l. housley:

…”Tsung Tsai is a Ch’an monk, perhaps the last one on Earth. Ch’an is a Chinese form of Buddhism that became known as Zen after its introduction into Japan. In 1959, the Red Army troops brutally destroyed his monastery. Knowing that his fellow monks had been killed, Tsung Tsai realized that he had to escape to preserve for future generations the teachings of his Buddhist master. His trek across China was appalling. Near death from starvation, he finally reached Hong Kong.

Nearly forty years later, the trek has taken Tsung Tsai to a cabin in the Catskill Mountains in New York State. It is here that he meets George Crane, a writer and on-again-off-again spiritual seeker. Their growing friendship leads in 1996 to Tsung Tsai’s request that Crane return with him to the edge of the Gobi Desert to find the bones of his master.

In a way (and this is why Peter Matthiessen used the word “delightful” to describe the book), Crane plays Sancho Panza to Tsung Tsai’s Don Quixote. Crane’s outlook on life is thoroughly Western, Tsai’s thoroughly Eastern. Their efforts to understand each other are at one and the same time funny and poignant. For example, over a cup of tea, Tsung Tsai tries to explain the meaning of Ch’an to Crane. “What means is I never lose my mind. Ch’an is pure mind. Always keep and you can see east, west, sky, earth, Everything pure. Everything coming you can see. Even can see in shadow. That is Ch’an. Nothing can move Ch’an mind. Understand?” Crane replies “Clear as mud.” Tsung Tsai is delighted with the answer, crying out happily, “Now you’ve got it really.”

What Crane does have is a love for Tsung Tsai. It carries him beyond his inability to understand fully the concepts of Ch’an. It carries him far from his ordinary life, and his writing far from of its ordinary haunts. The result is a book that celebrates compassion, wherever it is found.”


One Response to “bones”

  1. and bodies… « embodhiment Says:

    […] embodhiment bodhisattvas stay in their body « bones […]

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