Bones of the Master by George Crane
A Buddhist Monk's Search for the Lost Heart of China

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 3 Critic Reviews

unrated

Synopsis

They are the most unlikely of friends: one an American poet in love with words, a self-described ne'er-do-well and sensualist with a finely honed suspicion of authority. The other an aging Chinese monk steeped in an ancient tradition and devoted to the memory of his ascetic meditation master. Their lives come together in this extraordinary journey that takes us from the still-medieval villages of Inner Mongolia to a modern Hong Kong of black magic and stunning materialism.

The journey begins in 1959, as a young monk named Tsung Tsai (Ancestor Wisdom) escapes the Red Army troops that destroy his monastery, and flees alone three thousand miles across a China swept by chaos and famine. Hidden under his peasant jacket he carries a book of poetry and his monk's certificate, either of which means death if discovered. His mission: to carry on the teachings of his Ch'an Buddhist master, Shiuh Deng, who was too old to leave with his disciple.

Nearly forty years later Tsung Tsai--now an old master himself--travels with his skeptical friend Crane back to his birthplace at the edge of the Gobi Desert. China is stirring with spiritual renewal, and Tsung Tsai is determined to find Shiuh Deng's grave and build a shrine in his honor. Ignoring visa restrictions, facing down hostile bureaucrats, the two men reenter a lost world of belief and superstition nearly extinguished by history. As their search culminates in a torturous climb to a remote mountain cave, it becomes clear that this seemingly quixotic quest may cost Tsung Tsai's life.

Laced with passion and humor, Crane's vivid prose captures it all: foxy town girls and outback shamans, ice-cold morning meditations and drunken feasts, sand-scoured wilderness and gold-clad Buddhas. Finally, as past and present come together we glimpse the power of a timeless faith to endure in the heart of suffering.



The journey begins in 1959, as a young monk named Tsung Tsai (Ancestor Wisdom) escapes the Red Army troops who destroy his monastery, and flees alone across a famine-wracked China carrying a book of poetry and his monk's certificate, either of which means death if discovered.  His mission: to carry on the teachings of his Ch'an Buddhist master, Shuih Deng, who was too old to leave with his disciple.

Nearly forty years later, Tsung Tsai, now an old master himself, travels with his skeptical American friend, Crane, back to his birthplace at the edge of the Gobi Desert, determined to find Shuih Deng's bones and rebury them with the proper ceremony.  As their search culminates in a torturous climb to a remote mountain cave--a climb that nearly kills Tsung Tsai--Crane's vivid and poetic prose captures both the paradoxes of modern China and the power of China's lost spiritual traditions. -->
 

About George Crane

See more books from this Author
George Crane is a poet as well as a translator of poems from the Chinese (A Thousand Pieces of Snow, co-authored with Tsung Tsai). He lives in upstate New York. Bones of the Master is his first nonfiction work.
 
Published February 29, 2000 by Bantam. 304 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Religion & Spirituality, Travel.

Unrated Critic Reviews for Bones of the Master

Kirkus Reviews

See more reviews from this publication

Crane’s narrative recounts Tsung Tsai’s past, including a harrowing trek through Communist China to escape religious persecution at the hands of the Red Army during the famine of 1959, as well as the self-revelations his own association with Tsung Tsai elicits.

| Read Full Review of Bones of the Master: A Buddhi...

Publishers Weekly

See more reviews from this publication

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.

| Read Full Review of Bones of the Master: A Buddhi...

https://www.spiritualityandpractice.com

When George Crane, a self-described 42-year-old "cerebral ne'er-do-well" with a love of books, women, and travel, and a distaste for long-term employment, meets Tsung Tsai, the monk is living a simple life in Woodstock, New York.

| Read Full Review of Bones of the Master: A Buddhi...

Reader Rating for Bones of the Master
89%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 68 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


Rate this book!

Add Review
×