Hermit – A Profound Documentary by Bill Porter

Aug 21, 2018 | Views: 2,324
A Chinese hermit meditates high above the Zhongnan Mountains in China

A Chinese hermit meditates high above the Zhongnan Mountains in China

 

Introduction

Cover of Bill Porter’s Hermit documentary. Click on image to enlarge.

Cover of Bill Porter’s Hermit documentary. Click on image to enlarge.

The pursuit of spiritual perfection has fascinated mankind since the beginning of religious practice in the world. Over time, there have arisen many religions, philosophies and ways of life dedicated to finding the meaning of life and the nature of reality. Buddhism is one such religion that emphasises this pursuit.

Within the Chinese Zen tradition, following the Buddhist principle of renunciation, there arose a beautiful hermit tradition which seeks to find this truth in outer seclusion and inner contemplation, coupled with transformation of the mind through meditation.

Bill Porter, an American translator, author and Buddhist practitioner has spent many years studying these ancient hermit traditions of China. Renowned as one of the world’s experts on the subject, he has published books as well as been featured in fascinating documentaries about Chinese hermits.

Bill Porter – translator, author and practitioner of Zen Buddhism.

Bill Porter – translator, author and practitioner of Zen Buddhism.

In 1989, Bill Porter, also known by his pen name ‘Red Pine’, travelled to the Zhongnan Mountains in China to meet some of these hermits and learn about their way of life. This resulted in his publishing the work titled Road to Heaven: Encounters with Chinese Hermits in 1993. 25 years later, Bill Porter travelled back to the same mountains to see if life there had changed. The outcome of this particular trip was a documentary titled Hermit, about a modern-day journey into the heart of the hermit tradition in China. This is a must watch documentary with so much to learn to enhance our lives which will give us hope as we are all drowning in materialism’s false promises.

I hope you enjoy reading about Bill Porter and his works, it is truly inspirational to read and watch his foray into this fascinating and transformative tradition. Bill Porter’s life itself is incredibly inspirational. It was such a pleasure for me to read and share it here and it is an honor for me to blog about this great man. Please watch the documentary and share with others. Watch this documentary every few months to ‘recharge’ our inspirational ‘battery’ that gets depleted in today’s hectic world.

Tsem Rinpoche

 

Words and languages are merely ways of communication. According to the Mahayana point of view, only by means of practice can one realise one’s own nature. The Dharma consists in the enlightenment of one’s own mind, not someone else’s. Someone else’s enlightenment is for reference only. We have to look for enlightenment deep in our own minds. That’s something that’s real. It doesn’t involve outside help, because all outside help is conditional. They are aids.

~ Hermit master (Hermit documentary)

 

Bill Porter: A Biography

Bill Porter

Bill Porter

Bill Porter was born on 3 October 1943, in Los Angeles, California. His father, William A. Porter, was a convicted bank robber who was sentenced to 20 years in prison in Michigan in the 1920s. William’s sisters, Pearlie and Pauline, both moved to Michigan to be closer to their brother. They worked as waitresses in an upscale restaurant. As luck would have it, the Governor of Michigan often dined there, so both women seized the opportunity to tell the Governor about their brother. Through their efforts the Governor of Michigan issued an official pardon for William, who by that time had only served six out of his 20-year prison sentence.

William A. Porter went on to work in the hospitality industry and eventually became a very wealthy man after establishing a chain of hotels. Following his success, William A. Porter became a big sponsor of the Democratic Party and even became a close friend of the Kennedy family.

Being born the son of a wealthy father, Bill Porter grew up in a privileged environment. He attended prestigious boarding schools in Los Angeles and San Francisco but unlike most privileged children, Porter became disillusioned with wealth. He came to realise the fake and superficial nature of many people who had money.

But disaster struck when his father, William A. Porter, was inundated with a series of lawsuits which saw his hotel business crumble and his marriage end in divorce. He lost most of his wealth, which plunged the family into financial hardship. However, instead of lamenting the misfortune, Bill Porter was relieved that he did not have to inherit a vast fortune. He was happy to be released from the social pressure of having to act like other wealthy people. Later in life, Bill Porter revealed his feelings about the loss of his father’s fortune:

Meeting powerful people and seeing what facades their characters were, how false they were. I didn’t realise what I was being introduced to, but I realised that money and fame are not worth seeking and are even worth avoiding. I still remember how good I felt when I realised my father was losing all his money because then I realised I wouldn’t have to inherit it. Not that I couldn’t use a little money right now, but at the time I was so turned off by it because of all these fake people I met all the time as a child.

After finishing high school, Porter enrolled at the University of California in Santa Barbara in 1961, but dropped out soon after. In 1964, he received a draft notice and subsequently joined the military. He was sent on a three-year tour of Germany, during which time he served as a medical clerk. Arriving back in the United States he once again enrolled in the University of California, Santa Barbara to study Anthropology. While there, he became interested in Buddhism after reading two books: Introduction to Buddhism by Edward Conze and The Way of Zen by Alan Watts. After obtaining his Bachelor degree, he enrolled at Columbia University as a graduate student of Anthropology and Chinese Language. His junior year was spent at the University of Goettingen in Germany, where he realised his real passion was in the study of Buddhism.

He started to attend meditation classes held by Venerable ShouYeh, a Hua-Yen Buddhist monk, but was unable to communicate with him fluently. Porter had not yet mastered the Chinese language and Venerable ShouYeh spoke only limited English. Nevertheless, Porter observed the Venerable ShouYeh’s calm and peaceful demeanour that inspired him in his quest to learn more about Buddhist practice.

Columbia University where Bill Porter enrolled as a graduate student of Anthropology

Columbia University where Bill Porter enrolled as a graduate student of Anthropology

Porter dropped out of Columbia University in 1972, and travelled to the newly-established Fo Kwang Shan Monastery in Taiwan. His supportive father even bought him a one-way ticket to Taiwan and gave him US$200 to enable him to fulfil his wish to study the religion. He left the monastery after only one year. Though he wished he could have stayed there longer, as a western Buddhist practitioner he attracted a lot of unwanted attention.

He enrolled at the College of Chinese Culture studying Philosophy and it was here that he met Ku Lien Chang, who would later become his wife. He left the college after a year as he became disillusioned with academic life and joined Hai Ming Monastery, roughly 20 kilometres outside Taipei, the capital city of Taiwan.

College of Chinese Culture where Bill Porter enrolled as a student of Philosophy

College of Chinese Culture where Bill Porter enrolled as a student of Philosophy

He was given the name ‘Victorious Cloud’ and spent most of his time studying and meditating. It was there that he came across the work of the Tang Dynasty poet Cold Mountain, considered to be an emanation of Manjushri, the Buddha of Wisdom; and the commentaries on these poems written by the monastery’s abbot, Venerable Wu Ming. Porter decided to translate the poems into English and so began his extraordinary career as a translator.

His two and a half years at Hai Ming enabled Porter to further refine his understanding and grasp of the Chinese language. While at the monastery, he continued to court Ku Lien Chang and when the time came for him to decide whether he wanted to become a monk or leave the monastery, he chose the latter. However, before he left, he decided to commit himself to the Buddhist path in another way. He took the lay precepts, which are ethical vows of conduct for lay Buddhist practitioners.

Hai Ming Monastery

Hai Ming Monastery

Upon leaving the monastery he rented a stone farmhouse near Bamboo Lake, Yang Ming Mountain and took on the pen name ‘Red Pine’. He was inspired to use the name because great Chinese poets used symbolic names, such as Cold Mountain. It was only several months later that Porter discovered that Red Pine was also the name of a great Taoist master, who served as the Yellow Emperor’s rain-maker and weather-changer.

Porter married his long-time partner, Ku Lien Chang, and together they bore a son in 1982 whom they named Red Cloud and a daughter in 1987 named Irish. Now with a family to support, growing financial pressure led to Porter to take a full-time job as a national news editor for the International Community Radio of Taipei.

Bill Porter and his wife, Ku Lien Chang, in front of their family home in Port Townsend, Washington.

Bill Porter and his wife, Ku Lien Chang, in front of their family home in Port Townsend, Washington.

While continuing to live at Bamboo Lake, he continued his translation work. Seeking to publish his work, he submitted his translation of Cold Mountain’s poems to several publishers but was rejected by all of them. It was then that he sought the advice of the famous translator and author, John Blofeld (1913-1987). Blofeld, who became his mentor, encouraged Porter to complete translating all of Cold Mountain’s existing poems. Porter followed Blofeld’s advice and after having translated all the poems, he submitted his work to Copper Canyon Press under his Red Pine pen name. He was successful and his work was published in 1983 under the title The Collected Songs of Cold Mountain which included an introduction by Blofeld.

Porter’s career as a translator of ancient Chinese classics took off. His subsequent works, P’u Ming’s Oxherding Pictures and Verses in 1983 and From Temple Walls: The Collected Poems of Big Shield & Pickup in 1984 were published by Empty Bowl Press. His book The Mountain Poems of Stonehouse was published by Copper Canyon Press. It was Stonehouse’s poems that left a lasting impression in Porter’s mind. He was moved to learn more about the lives of Zen hermits and their quest for spiritual perfection. The rare poems by Stonehouse and Porter’s ability to express the poet’s intention in his own words, made the book a huge success among its readers and earned Porter positive reviews for his work.

Following the success of The Mountain Poems of Stonehouse, Porter continued to translate the teachings of Bodhidharma, which were published in his book The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma. After a period of extensive research, Porter published one of his greatest works Road to Heaven: Encounters with Chinse Hermits. Returning to work at the radio station, he soon moved to a new job at the Metro News radio station in Hong Kong where he wrote and produced five radio series. After working there for two years, he raised enough money to return to the United States and put a down payment on the house the family still lives in today in Port Townsend, Washington State. He chose the location as Copper Canyon Press was based there and he had become enamoured with the peaceful nature of the city.

Port Townsend in Washington, USA where Bill Porter and his family currently live.

Port Townsend in Washington, USA where Bill Porter and his family currently live.

Having to work two jobs – one in a bakery and the other in a restaurant – to support his family, Porter was too exhausted to work on his translation. He decided to concentrate on his translation and writing work instead. Debt quickly accumulated and for a period of time the family lived frugally and relied on food stamps.

His book The Zen Baggage was published by Beijing Reader Publishing in Cypress Grove Monastery although it usually publishes business-related books. His work Secluded Orchids in a Deserted Valley was republished by the same company and ended up selling 100,000 copies. He became a sensation in China and hermit tourism in China soared due to his work. In 2009, Porter published English versions of The Heart Sutra and The Diamond Sutra along with their commentaries. In 2011, his book The Zen Baggage was reprinted, with over 50,000 copies sold. After years of struggling, he was finally able to provide for his family without relying on the United States Government’s Food Stamp Program.

After being rejected seven times in a row, Porter was finally awarded a Guggenheim Foundation grant to fund a trip to China, which resulted in the publication of Finding the Gone: Visiting China’s Poets of the Past, in 2016.

Now that Porter is in his 70s, he will soon be retiring from the literary world. Initially, he used Buddhist texts as a functional way to understand the Chinese language and had not planned on translating them into English. These days, Porter finds more meaning connecting with other people, instead of visiting China only to conduct research for his books. He has plans to visit Europe where he used to serve as a medical clerk for three years, and to visit Taiwan. Although Porter does not plan to write or translate any more books, he will always be remembered as a gifted translator and prolific author who poured his heart into his works and inspired thousands on their spiritual paths.

 

Road to Heaven

Road to Heaven by Bill Porter. Click on image to enlarge.

Road to Heaven by Bill Porter. Click on image to enlarge.

After Bill Porter completed his translation of poems by Cold Mountain and Stonehouse, he began to wonder if Buddhist hermits still exist in modern times. To fulfil his curiosity, he applied for a Guggenheim Foundation grant to conduct his research in China. Before he received news from them in regards to his application, he happened to interview the son of the wealthiest man in Taiwan at the time, Winston Wong Wen-Young from Formosa Plastics, one of the largest plastic companies in the world.

When Porter told Wong about his application for a grant from the Guggenheim Foundation, Wong said that he would be happy to help if the application was rejected. It turned out the Guggenheim Foundation did not entertain Porter’s application. Since he was rejected, Porter turned to Wong who provided him with the funds he needed for his research. With the help of the research funds, he was able to complete his first book on the subject. Road to Heaven: Encounters with Chinese Hermits was published in 1993 by Mercury House.

Bill Porter interviewing a hermit in the Zhongnan Mountains

Bill Porter interviewing a hermit in the Zhongnan Mountains

Bill Porter’s Road to Heaven is a brilliant essay on the traditions of Chinese hermits, a startling reminder of how far we have gone astray. It should be part of any serious Zen or Taoist library.

~ Jim Harrison

The book charts Porter’s trek through the then-remote Zhongnan Mountains of China in search of contemporary hermits to study their practices and their lifestyle. Throughout his time there he gained invaluable spiritual wisdom, which shines forth beautifully through the interviews he writes about in the book. On his journey he was able to interview more than 20 male and female hermits of both the Zen Buddhist and Taoist faiths that call the Zhongnan Mountains their home. It is a fantastic read for those interested in Eastern religions and those who dedicate their lives to these practices.

Written in the first person, the book is set amidst mountain caves and hermitages hidden in the forests. Porter, who originally published the work under his Red Pine pen name, writes with authority, love and elegance. His work is indispensable for those interested in the intricacies of Chinese religion, philosophy and poetry, and also those who have a fascination for the hermit tradition.

A hermit praying at a temple in the Zhongnan Mountains

A hermit praying at a temple in the Zhongnan Mountains

Though the spiritual heritage of China is sometimes difficult to fathom for many, it still exists and Porter skilfully describes the hermit tradition like a bridge that reaches into the distant past where myth and history mingle together. Throughout the book he leads readers to the revelation that for those of us living in the world, there is much to be learned from those who live outside it. He talks of the hermit tradition being based on the idea that in order to truly engage in the world and see it clearly, one must first disengage from it. In the ancient traditions, they saw it as “disengagement to engage”, which is the most essential lesson to be learned in order to see the world clearly and function within it at a higher, more spiritual level.

 

Hermit: A Documentary

Bill Porter revisited the Zhongnan Mountains 25 years later, in order to reconnect with those he had originally interviewed and to see if life on the mountain range had changed. What he found were a few familiar faces, many new ones and a changing environment. Through his conversations with the hermits living there, he realised that his works had a far greater impact on the life of hermits in the mountains than he originally thought.

A Taoist hermit that Bill Porter interviewed in the Zhongnan Mountains

A Taoist hermit that Bill Porter interviewed in the Zhongnan Mountains

25 years ago, American author Bill Porter (a.k.a. Red Pine) went to the Zhongnan Mountains to seek out modern Chinese hermits. His resulting book, Road to Heaven, was a touchstone for many westerners wondering what remained of Buddhist and Daoist asceticism in China. Now, for the first time, Bill Porter revisits Zhongnan to seek out those who seek from within, living quiet lives of deep devotion in some of the world’s most stunning locales.

It took the crew 3 years and 14 visits deep into the mountains to accomplish this film. The whole film was shot on DSLR camera with prime lens and fixed camera positions. To avoid dramatic effects, the film has no zooming, no panning, no artificial lighting, no voice-over, no music. It was made as a low budget film to reveal the simple and peaceful way of the hermit’s life.

~ Emei Film Studio

The documentary received international acclaim, with screenings at:

  • The 15th International Buddhist Film Festival, USA
  • The 6th DOCUTAH International Documentary Film Festival, USA
  • The 10th Buddhist Film Festival Europe, Netherlands
  • The 9th Tel Aviv SPIRIT Film Festival, Israel
  • The 9th Alexandria Film Festival, USA
  • The 13th International Gold Panda Documentary Festival, China
  • The 2015 Spotlight Documentary Film Awards, USA
  • The 22nd Victoria Film Festival, Canada
  • The 3rd International Documentary Festival of Ierapetra Awards, Greece
  • The 4th Ethnografilm, France
  • The 2017 Golden Tree International Documentary Film Festival, Germany

Directed by He Shiping, Fu Peng and Zhou Chengyu, it was produced by Emei Film Studio. What made the actual production of the documentary so unique was that it was made using Buddhist principles, as outlined in a statement by the director:

Director Statement – 13 Commandments

It took us 3 years and 14 trips to Zhongnan Mountains to accomplish this documentary. It was difficult to communicate with the hermits. Our requests for interview were mostly rejected, but when some of them agreed, we got the precious opportunities. Due to our humbleness, sincereness and patience, about ten hermits finally agreed to be filmed and might be willing to have further communication with us. Unfortunately, our author/leading character–Bill Porter was only allowed to stay in China for a short while this time. However, with three years’ hard work and preparation, we’re quite ready for the revisit.

  1. Zen. Everything moves except the camera position. The dynamic state of men, wind, water, birds, grass and trees contrasts with the static state of the camera. No zoom shots, no pans and tilts, no dolly or crane shots. The balance of composition is pursued, with the steady scenes to reveal inner peace and quietness.
  2. Humility. For shooting the hermits, we adopt only low angle and the static camera position. The camera should be no higher than the cameramen’s heads when they are shooting on their knees. We do our best to avoid the disrespectful high angle shots, and while shooting the conversations between Bill Porter and the hermits, the cameramen step back or leave the scene once the camera is set and rolling.
  3. Moderation. We use mainly medium shots for shooting characters instead of close-ups, so as to avoid the dramatic effects. The frames of interior shots and exterior shots of dialogues are limited to one zhang (c. 3.333 meters) wide, symbolizing Fang Zhang (square zhang, or 11 1/9 m2), as in “The room of one square zhang can contain all.” In Vimalakirti Sutra. static camera position is required for the scenes of people sitting in meditation, apprehending the doctrines, practicing martial arts, living, etc. Following shot or other kinds of moving camera shots are prevented.
  4. Selection. The unnecessary gorgeous scenery is left out. Just the simple life of the hermits is filmed. This documentary is to show both the elegant, poetic, leisurely and carefree aspects, and the impoverished, choice-less, agonizing, and sometimes dirty sides of the hermits’ life.
  5. Micro-Budget. Total cost is under $92k (€65k). To reveal a way of low budget life, we adopt a way of low budget shooting. Instead of professional movie cameras, we shoot the whole documentary with Canon EOS 5D Mark II, using only prime lens and telephoto lens.
  6. Keeping it natural. Absolutely no props, setting, or artificial lighting are added. Everything you see is the actual living condition of the hermits.
  7. Simplicity. During post-production, no special effects — fade-in, fade-out, dissolve or blank screen — are added. Scenes are directly connected by the footages of Bill Porter’s journey.
  8. Silence. There may be awkward situations when the hermits refuse to let our crews in, or are not willing to talk with us, which, however, lead to precious scenes that definitely need to be captured. Moreover, we let such shots last, in order to brew interesting and profound impression.
  9. Slowness. Slowness is the rhythm of the hermits’ life, and the style of this documentary. Bill Porter is required to speak slowly, as he’s thinking. The hermits talk slowly, with pauses, or even sit in silence from time to time. In addition, streams in the documentary are slow and soft ripple instead of water pouring down.
  10. Vitality. We do not peruse intentional vitality so as to get rid of the tediousness. In fact, the spontaneous self-mockery and movement are of vivid eastern wisdom and humor. Besides, Bill Porter’s body language is vivid enough.
  11. Quietness. No score. No narration. Only the hermits and Bill Porter’s sound recorded on location, with occasional birds’ chirping, dogs’ barking and water bubbling.
  12. Freedom. We did not direct any of Bill Porter’s topics.
  13. Fast. After going into the mountain, our crews were forbidden to have alcoholic drinks, meats, scallion, or garlic.

January 14th, 2015

Bill Porter was 71 years old at the time of the documentary’s production. He found that some of the original hermits he met had since passed away but the area was still populated by both male and female practitioners who spent their days in meditation, chanting and exercise. The camera followed his laborious journey from hermitage to hermitage, and captured his talks with these spiritual seekers and how they live. The movie is slow and deliberate, capturing the essence of spiritual life on the mountains, as he climbs up narrow paths to find different hermits and asks, “Are you here, master?”

Despite being elderly, Bill Porter braved treacherous mountain passes in order to interview hermits for the documentary

Despite being elderly, Bill Porter braved treacherous mountain passes in order to interview hermits for the documentary

Throughout the documentary you see trees and vegetation punctuated by the rock faces of towering mountains, and the simple lives of the hermits who live there, providing insight into why they cut themselves off from modern civilisation in order to be one with nature and gain high spiritual attainments. You can watch this fascinating documentary below and also read the transcripts in both English and Chinese.

 

Hermit: A Documentary

Or view the video on the server at:
https://video.tsemtulku.com/videos/Hermit.mp4

English Transcript

TRANSCRIPTION

HERMITS

In 1989, American writer Bill Porter came to Xi’an to look for hermits. At that time, in the Zhongnan Mountains, there were over two hundred hermits. In 1993, he had his book published: Road to Heaven: Encounters with Chinese Hermits. In 2014, Bill Porter revisited the Zhongnan Mountains.

Visiting Master Cheng Bo (Master Huiyuan’s disciple), in the Zhongnan Mountains:

(Bill Porter enters the courtyard of the hermitage.)

Bill Porter (B.P.): “What happened to the apple tree?”

Master Cheng Bo: “It was too old and damaged by disease.”

B.P.: “It was old. It was old.”

Sitting with Master Cheng Bo in the courtyard:

M. Cheng Bo: “My master was always happy.”

B.P.: “Yes, she was. I’ve been visiting some of the other huts. This is one of my favourites. It’s tidy. Some huts are shabby. Your master had good taste.”

M. Cheng Bo: “Yes, she did.”

B.P.: “The place is well organised. She liked to plant trees, flowers and …”

M. Cheng Bo: “Plant vegetables.”

B.P.: “Plant vegetables. She kept it very clean. Like a small piece of Paradise. A Pure Land hut.”

M. Cheng Bo: “And a Pure Land on earth. My master was like that. She said everything is practice.”

B.P.: “Yes, she was a great practitioner. She was happy. Whatever the conditions were, she was always happy.”

M. Cheng Bo: “Very happy.”

B.P.: “Very happy.”

B.P.: “Master Cheng Bo, how long have you been living here?”

M. Cheng Bo: “For 35 years.”

B.P.: “Oh! As long as the old Master.”

M. Cheng Bo: “Yes, as long as the old Master.”

B.P.: “Wah, very good.”

B.P.: “35 years have passed very fast.”

M. Cheng Bo: “I was young then.”

B.P.: “Yes, the first time I came here was 25 years ago.”

M. Cheng Bo: “Yes.”

B.P.: “You had already been here for 10 years then.”

M. Cheng Bo: “Yes, ten years.”

B.P.: “I have another question. Master Cheng Bo, I remember that you said the first time you came here you were hiking with classmates.”

M. Cheng Bo: “I came here with some laywomen and other girls my age.”

B.P.: “Do they still come to see you?”

M. Cheng Bo: “Yes.”

B.P.: “They still remember…”

M. Cheng Bo: “They still remember me.”

B.P.: “That’s good.”

M. Cheng Bo: “Very good. They still come to visit me. I’ve been here ever since. I never left my Master.”

B.P.: “Tomorrow, before we leave, I plan to visit her stupa and burn some incense.”

M. Cheng Bo: “That’s good. Amitofo (Merciful Buddha).”

Another conversation in the hermitage with Master Cheng Bo:

B.P.: “I’m always glad to come to the Zhongnan Mountains.”

M. Cheng Bo: “You can come again if you wish.”

B.P.: “I hope to come again. But I don’t know.”

M. Cheng Bo: “You’ll have the chance.”

B.P.: “This place is the same as before. The mountain is here, so are those who practise here. This is very good. Actually, there are more practitioners than before. There are new huts.”

M. Cheng Bo: “There are a lot more huts in the Zhongnan Mountains.”

B.P.: “When I came for the first time, most people thought spiritual practice and religion were superstitions. Or because during the Cultural Revolution, people were afraid that spiritual practice and religion weren’t good. Now the society is more open, and people are becoming interested in practice again. These mountains are so big, there is always room for another hut.”

M. Cheng Bo: “The ten-year-long Cultural Revolution was a cruel blow to Buddhism. But since it ended, Buddhism has begun to thrive, monks and nuns are once again pursuing spiritual paths.”

 


 

At the entrance of a cave in the Zhongnan Mountains:

B.P.: “Hello Master. Is the Master in? Oh, it’s a layman, a disciple. Does anyone live here now? No one lived here before.”

Practitioner: “No one lived here when I came. It was empty for two years.”

B.P.: “You live here now?”

Practitioner: “Please sit down. As a Chinese I feel quite embarrassed. For the past few decades, the Zhongnan Mountains, as far as the Chinese were concerned, they didn’t know where they were, it wasn’t until your book appeared that anyone knew about them. What I worry about now is, with the development going on, the huts will be pulled down or those of us living in the mountains will be driven away to make way for rich people’s houses. This is a serious problem right now. Such traditional places as these would be rare anywhere else in the world.”

B.P.: “I know. But I haven’t kept up with recent developments. So I came here to see whether conditions had changed. When I was writing Road to Heaven, no one lived here.”

Practitioner: “There were people living nearby but not here because it was too damp. There was too much water.

B.P.: “No one could live inside, only outside.”

Practitioner: But that’s not true, not if they dried things in the sun before they took them inside. When something gets damp, I take it outside again. Right now, that’s the only way.

B.P.: “What’s this place called?”

Practitioner: “I’m thinking of writing a few characters when I have more time. I want to call it Pure Heart Cave.”

B.P.: “Pure Heart Cave.”

Practitioner: “But right now I’m too busy doing other things. I have to stockpile firewood. If it rains, it won’t be good if I don’t have anything to burn. This place is directly below Big Hut. Big Hut is up there.”

B.P.: “Do your relatives and friends come to see you?”

Practitioner: “I’m here to cultivate, so I try not to think about that. I have to let things go. According to the Dharma, one has to let things go. The mind has to be calm. That’s the simplest way to say it. If you want a deeper understanding, letting one thing go doesn’t mean letting another thing go. For example, when an insect bites you, you don’t kill it, but let it go. That’s because you vow to liberate living beings. Deep in our hearts, if there is no thought of killing, when an insect bites, we don’t become angry. If it comes from your heart, there’s no need to restrain yourself. It’s natural we don’t want to kill. Killing makes us feel bad. Don’t think such thoughts, let alone carry them out. You know this better than I do. A long time ago, I heard that your understanding of Buddhism was far greater than that of many senior practitioners in China. But practising Buddhism isn’t something you learn about. You have to do it yourself, practise it yourself. You have to practise it while you’re learning about it.”

B.P.: “Many people learn about Buddhism, they attend classes or they read books. But they don’t necessarily practise.”

Practitioner: “I don’t know if I’m right. There’re a lot of things that don’t depend on how much you know. That you have to practise.”

B.P.: “I agree. I have always been like that. However, understanding the Dharma is the first step. It leads you into the door, once you’re inside, it all depends on you. You have to let your mind go. Letting go isn’t something you can learn from a book. You can learn to let go after you encounter something.”

B.P.: “What is this?”

Practitioner: “Pakchoi.”

B.P.: “How long does it take to grow?”

Practitioner: “From planting the seeds to eating it, at least one to two months.”

B.P.: “This is such a small plot. Any other plots?”

Practitioner: “For now, I’m planning to plant a few things behind the hut. The terrain isn’t really suitable for planting. Too many rocks and not flat enough. It’s not easy to make it flat.”

B.P.: “Most practice places are like this.”

Practitioner: “We don’t need much land. We don’t eat that much. Living expenses for a month, for everything we need is 50-60RMB (US$9 dollars).”

B.P.: “For one month?”

Practitioner: “Yes. For rice, cooking oil, salt, and other small daily necessities. I don’t need that much money.”

B.P.: “Do you go down the mountain once a week for provisions?”

Practitioner: “I don’t know about others, but I don’t need to buy vegetables, just some rice and noodles. Perhaps once or twice a month, I go down to buy things.”

B.P.: “Where do you go? To Guandi Temple? Go back up the other side?”
Practitioner: “To Taiyi Gong. I go up to Big Hut then down the other side past Purple Bamboo Temple.”

B.P.: “Where do you get your water?”

Practitioner: “Down in the hollow.”

B.P.: “Firewood can be found everywhere.”

Practitioner: “I try to choose the dead wood. It doesn’t harm the forest and requires less effort.”

B.P.: “This is filtered water.”

Practitioner: “No insects. I use a piece of cheesecloth.”

(Bill Porter takes his leave.)

B.P.: “Amitofo.”

Practitioner: “Amitofo.”

Practitioner: “Your merit is great.”

B.P.: “Your merit is also boundless. I wish you the best.”

Practitioner: “Watch out. This way isn’t safe. This way is better.”

Practitioner: “Too many hikers pass by every day. It’s not an easy trail. If they can really make it this far, I welcome them. If they don’t take this trail, I enjoy the quiet. This is a brilliant solution.”

 


 

Bill Porter arrives at a cave with a Practitioner:

B.P.: “Was this cave carved out by someone before?”

Practitioner: “I carved it out.”

B.P.: “You did?”

Practitioner: “Yes. It’s very cool inside.”

B.P.: “Yes, especially in summer. It’s a good place to practise and meditate. Oh, you have a place to meditate.”

B.P.: “What tools did you use to carve out the cave?”

Practitioner: “A chisel. Like this.”

B.P.: “A chisel.”

Practitioner: “I carved it out like this.”

B.P.: “How long did it take? A month?”

Practitioner: “No, a Malaysian student helped me. So did a layman. It took the three of us two months to carve it out.”

B.P.: “Three people, two months.”

Practitioner: “Because we had to move the earth outside.”

B.P.: “Yes.”

Practitioner: “In fact, when it’s compacted, there was a lot of earth. We had a huge pile of earth we dug from the cave. The place was originally flat. There was no earth before.”

B.P.: “What’s this? Are you imitating the Native Americans?”

Practitioner: “No. It’s a spur-of-the-moment thing. Just for fun. It’s made of vines. It’s OK. Leave it. This is a vine.”

B.P.: “It’s good to have a private cave. And it’s useful. Especially in summer, it’s comfortable to meditate here.”

Practitioner: “But it’s quite cool. If you are not in good health, you’ll catch cold. Because when you don’t move, the skin pores absorb the cold.”

(Bill Porter and the practitioner having tea in the open air.)

B.P.: “When I lived in the temple, I began to translate Han Shan’s poems. I kept translating when I moved to a farmhouse in the mountains. Then I made a foreign friend. He introduced me to an American press which was willing to publish my translations. I wasn’t really thinking about publishing them. After that, I began to translate another monk’s poems which was also published. He was a hermit, too. I think these people are special. People like Han Shan. I wanted to know if they really existed. And if so, what their life was like. When you read a poem, it’s often a dream, you wonder whether it’s real or just the poet’s imagination. So I came to China in 1989. I couldn’t do that before 1987 because my wife is Chinese but from Taiwan. Taiwan people were not allowed to visit Mainland China until 1987. Once I was allowed to come, I thought about looking for the hermits. So I came in 1989 and I met some practitioners. I thought they were really great and wrote a book about their lives, their traditions, their habits and their methods of practice. And I published the book because I wanted to encourage American practitioners. I felt that American practitioners live such comfortable lives. I wanted to give them an example of other practitioners who live very hard lives but who keep practising. American practitioners have easier lives. They have everything. Food, house and clothes. They should work harder. That was my purpose. I didn’t expect the book would be translated into Chinese and published in China. I didn’t expect that. But it was a hit in China. So many people like the book. And it did something good, especially for the young people nowadays. China has become a developed country. Although not everyone is rich, life has gotten much better, much better. But many young people feel something is missing. Money isn’t everything. It’s useful, of course. But it isn’t everything. Maybe sometimes, if they read Road to Heaven, they might think about spiritual practice. It doesn’t matter what they practise. I would like to know in your practice here, what do you do every day? Can you tell me? Like when do you get up?”

Practitioner: “I get up early. About 4.30.”

B.P.: “What do you do then?”

Practitioner: “First I meditate. My schedule is different from when I lived in the temple. I meditate as soon as I get up. About 6 o’clock I go for a walk. Then I come back and light some incense. Then I wash my face and rinse my mouth. At around 8 o’clock I cook breakfast. It’s very simple. Usually besides farm work, I copy the sutras or I read them. Things like that.”

B.P.: “Which is your favourite sutra? Which one do you read every day?”

Practitioner: “The Taoist Qingjing jing. Laozi’s Taodejing and the Qingjing jing. Now mainly the Qingjing jing. It’s easy to recite. It’s like Buddhism’s Heart Sutra. It’s only about 200 words. Very short.”

B.P.: “Do you chant it with your mouth or with your heart?”

Practitioner: With my heart. Because according to the Taoist way, you have to nourish your vital spirit. But to do so, you have to be silent. You have to be silent to nourish the spirit. Conserving one’s inner energy, that’s the essence of Taoism.”

B.P.: “Conserving one’s inner energy. So you eat at 8 o’clock then chant sutras.”

Practitioner: “Yes.”

B.P.: “Until when?”

Practitioner: “Until about eleven.”

B.P.: “And during the day?”

Practitioner: I don’t sleep during the day.

B.P.: “No nap at noon?

Practitioner: “No. I seldom feel tired.”

B.P.: “Do you grow vegetables here?”

Practitioner: “My life here is really simple. If I’m not hungry, I don’t need to eat. No hunger, no eating. Your body will tell you what to do. Eat when you’re hungry. If you eat when you’re not hungry, you’ll feel bad.”

B.P.: “When you’re hungry, what do you eat then?”

Practitioner: “Vegetables. And rice porridge. That’s enough. Or noodles.”

B.P.: “How do you get your rice and noodles?”

Practitioner: “From the lay people who come here. I eat very little in the course of a month, less than 5 kilos of rice and noodles. I eat these vegetables mostly. But not much of them either. I only eat a little.”

B.P.: “What about winter?”

Practitioner: “Before the winter begins, I buy potatoes and sweet potatoes and cabbages and store them. I get ready in autumn. These can all be stored for the winter.”

B.P.: “Isn’t your place here too damp?”

Practitioner: “I eat ginger. People living in the mountains, at least those living in the Zhongnan Mountains, use ginger to regulate cold and damp. Ginger and Sichuan pepper. Both of these are relatively hot. And ginger is the king of herbs. We use ginger to keep ourselves healthy.”

B.P.: “It’s a part of Chinese medicine.”

Practitioner: “Yes, it is.”

B.P.: “Which part of the plant do you use?”

Practitioner: “This time of the year, we use the leaves. We make tea with the leaves which we can also eat. It’s also a spice. (Bill Porter chews some ginger leaves.) It tastes okay?”

B.P.: “Like mint.”

Practitioner: “It tastes like mint?

B.P.: “No. Patchouli.”

Practitioner: “That’s the taste of patchouli. Smell this.”

B.P.: “It tastes like mint.”

Practitioner: “It’s heat-clearing. It relieves summer heat.”

 


 

Bill Porter arrives at the entrance of a hermitage:

B.P.: “Is Master Daoji in? Master Daoji!”

B.P.: (knocks on the door) “Hello, Laymen. I just wanted to say Hello. I’m the author of Road to Heaven. I seldom have the chance to visit Big Hut. It’s OK if you don’t want to open the door. I understand. Good luck with your practice. Goodbye.”

 


 

Bill Porter at Master Quangqi’s hermitage:

B.P.: “Master Quanqi. Master Quanqi. (a disciple opens the door). Amitofo! I’m Wang Wenjun’s friend, his American friend.”

Disciple: “Come in.”

(Having tea with Master Quanqi inside the hermitage.)

Master Quanqi (M.Q.): “You must be in your 70s.”

B.P.: “I’m 71.”

M.Q.: “You look healthy.”

B.P.: “Still okay. Not many worries.”

M.Q.: “Practicing and studying Buddhism expands a person’s mind, so they don’t have any worries.”

B.P.: “Worries make you old fast.”

M.Q.: “Indeed, they do.”

B.P.: “People who understand practice don’t have a mind full of worries and that leads to a long life.

M.Q.: “These are from outside the mountain. Apples. These aren’t as good. And the peaches are new.”

B.P.: “Peaches.”

M.Q.: They were artificially ripened. Not so tasty.”

B.P.: “Not ripe yet.”

M.Q.: “If this traditional morality is to be kept alive, we need people who follow the Bodhisattva Path to develop and spread it. Without it, the society can’t be stable. In this modern society of ours, people’s desires are much stronger. Without moral education, the teachings of our sages, the teachings become chaotic and people’s minds become corrupt. There has to be people like you, kind-hearted and merciful and benevolent, making an effort to spread it, then the society can be saved. It’s possible that Buddhists everywhere in China know your book, Road to Heaven. It’s had a very great influence. You’re the best example of the old and the new Bodhisattva Path.

 


 

Arriving at a hermitage on top of a mountain:

Practitioner: It’s still the same old place.

B.P.: “It’s surrounded by cliffs.”

Practitioner: You can see only them from on top.

B.P.: Is anybody there?”

Practitioner: “There are many natural caves in the Zhongnan Mountains. There’s one called Lama Cave at Jiawutai. During the Zhenguan period (627-649 AD) in the Tang dynasty, there were monks practising there. The most famous was one who lived there during the Republic of China period. His name was Yekai. He lived there for three years. Zen Master Xuyun and layman Gao Henian also held Zen retreats there. I’m guessing you haven’t been to Jiawutai for 20 years.”

B.P.: “True. It’s been 20 years. At that time, Master Nengren was still alive.”

Practitioner: “Master Nengren passed away around 1995.”

B.P.: “Around 1995.”

Practitioner: “I can’t remember exactly, but it should have been in 1995. Her body was found here in 2009. As for how she passed away, the villagers down below knew she was missing for days, then they found her body below the cliff. People enshrined her body here sitting cross-legged. It was recorded on a stone tablet there. This was the place she built for herself. I worked in the Buddhist Association then. Master Nengren’s son came to me and said it was inconvenient to come here every year to pay his respects to his mother. There was also another reason. He thought keeping her body here might bother the monks nearby. He wondered if he could move her body and put her into a stupa. I discussed it with the monks here. Remember the stupa we passed on our way here and the smaller partly covered stupa next to it? That was built for Master Nengren. But what was remarkable before we opened the stupa, her son dreamt that his mother’s body hadn’t decomposed. He also told me when we opened the stupa what to do if the body was still intact. I said that was impossible. The body was simply put inside without any preparation. Unlike those on Jiuhua Mountain, which were embalmed first. If what he said was true that would be a miracle. We then invited the abbot of this temple to open the gate. When it was opened, her body was visible. After the monks finished conducting a Buddhist ceremony the workers opened the gate. What we saw was her head-covering and her clothing were in perfect condition. When we were rearranging her clothing we discovered the ashes and dust around her body were quite damp. But it was obvious that her flesh if we pressed it, was still flexible. We were shocked and stupefied. Around Master Nengren’s body we found some of her belongings like her eyeglass case, her alms bowl, and her prayer beads. They’re all next to her. Later we invited an artisan from Jiuhua Mountain and had the body gilded and enshrined it here. We’ve also put a pane of glass in front for protection. Where Master Nengren is sitting now is where we buried her 13 years ago. We didn’t have to move her. I’ve only heard about the flesh bodies of bodhisattvas but I witnessed this one myself, its original condition when we opened the stupa. It’s all recorded here. Those who can influence phenomena are the same as buddhas. This is what it says in the Surangama Sutra. If your mind can influence phenomena, you are the same as a buddha.”

B.P.: “It’s from the Surangama Sutra?”

Practitioner: “Yes, it is. ‘If your mind can influence phenomena, you are the same as a buddha. If you can bear the unbearable, you are the Master of Emptiness.’

B.P.: “The meaning of this is hidden within Master Nengren’s name. Interesting.”

Practitioner: “For all these years in the Zhongnan Mountains, up until now, this is the only imperishable flesh body.”

B.P.: “This is the only one in the Zhongnan Mountains, in the entire mountain range.”

Practitioner: “The only one we know about.”

Practitioner: (pointing to a building) “Inside there’s a photo of the Master when she was alive.”

 


 

Bill Porter meets a Master at his hermitage:

B.P.: “Hello! Layman, are you in? Hello! Layman? Amitofo! Hello! Anybody in? Amitofo!”

B.P.: “Master, are you in?”

B.P.: (speaking to the camera) “The door is not locked from the outside. Maybe there’s a door on the other side.”

(Bill Porter with the Master in front of the hermitage)

Master: “If I hadn’t read Road to Heaven, I wouldn’t talk to you. I wouldn’t speak with you. I would treat you as a passer-by. But I read the book. I know that talking with you would be meaningful.”

(Bill Porter and the Master sitting in front of the doorway of the hut)

B.P.: “Master, when I first came here, there was no hut. I remember in 1989, no one lived here. No hut.”

Master: “In the 21st century, in 2003 or 2004, in this hut there was a monk. No one before him. Because there’s no water here. No one lived here before.”

B.P.: “The biggest problem is water. And firehood.”

Master: “You came from America?”

B.P.: “From Seattle, the northwest corner of America. For the past 21 years, that’s where I’ve lived. I translate Chinese sutras into English, like the Heart Sutra, the Diamond Sutra, the Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch and the Lankavatara Sutra for the foreigners who can read English.”

Master: “You translated the Lankavatara Sutra?”

B.P.: “Pardon me?”

Master: “The Lankavatara Sutra is hard to understand.”

B.P.: “Yes, the Lankavatara.”

Master: “That sutra is very difficult to understand. It’s wonderful that you were able to translate it. You have contributed to the Buddhist world in two ways. One is your first-hand investigation of spiritual practice in the Zhongnan Mountains, your translation of Buddhist sutras is the other one. Your contribution to the world includes both. It’s valuable indeed. Translation can only serve as a guide. Only through actual practice can one find enlightenment. The written materials have to be abandoned. Abandon the words. Words are an aid.”

B.P.: “Yes. In the beginning the aid makes the Dharma easy to understand. People depend on words. They are used to them.”

Master: “Words and languages are merely ways of communication. According to the Mahayana point of view, only by means of practice can one realise one’s own nature. The Dharma consists in the enlightenment of one’s own mind, not someone else’s. Someone else’s enlightenment is for reference only. We have to look for enlightenment deep in our own minds. That’s something that’s real.”

B.P.: “Gradually achieve this state.”

Master: “It doesn’t involve outside help because all outside help is conditional.”

Master: “Translation is like a bridge. Do you understand? You can’t cross the river without a bridge. And you can’t become a buddha without the Wisdom. Wisdom is the boat. It ferries people to the Other Shore. Once you reach the Other Shore you leave the boat of Wisdom behind. All that’s left is this boat. You leave it after you cross the river. You can’t carry it with you. This is how the Dharma works.”

 


 

Having a conversation with a Master at his hermitage at the top of a mountain:

Master: “I think in this modern society of ours it’s impossible to escape from what’s going on. In terms of tourism, if we plan properly, and keep part of the temple closed so the monks have a quiet place to study, it will work.”

B.P.: “That’s good.”

Master: “Keeping part of the temple closed means tourists can still come here to light incense and pray. But the place for monks isn’t to be disturbed. There’s still a place for study.”

Master: “Temples in the mountains have their merits. Our place has particularly favourable natural conditions. We don’t have to worry too much about tourism. This mountain is hard to climb.”

B.P.: “Yes, it took me 5 hours.”

Master: “Not easy. Even if tourists come, they look around at the statues and maybe worship the Buddha. There’s nothing bad about that. The main thing is as long as the monks who are practising aren’t disturbed, then it’s okay.”

(Bill Porter with the Master watching the sunset as they talked.)

B.P.: “The sun is setting. It descended behind the hills.”

Master: “Yes.”

B.P.: “When I was in Taiwan, I lived in Fo Kwang Mountain. I was asked to translate something. They said I could choose anything. I translated a text used by Pure Land Buddhists: The Sixteen Contemplations.”

Master: “Oh, the Sixteen Contemplations Sutra which begins with the contemplation of the sun.”

B.P.: “In the beginning, you observe the sunset. So, every time I see the sunset, oh…”

Master: “You think about the contemplations.”

B.P.: “The Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss.”

Master: “You think of the Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss.”

B.P.: “From this the Pure Land begins to appear.”

Master: “Bit by bit it appears.”

Master: “Our life in the mountains feels like slow motion in the movies. Very slow. How we do things. How we think. We talk very little. There isn’t much to do or to talk about. Or much Buddhism to talk about. Not much to do. If there’s too much to do, practitioners can’t live here anymore. As for this place, it isn’t a standard practice place for the mountains. A more standard place would be a hut or a cave where one seldom talks. There’s not much to talk about. Here I have visitors occasionally, so sometimes I talk.”

B.P.: “You can help people by talking to them.”

Master: “To help people, I think saying a lot isn’t as good as saying a little. Many times, even though they hear the words, but they don’t put them into practice. I think that if you really want to help people is to show them how to study, show them how to pray to the Buddha, show them how to meditate, show them how to chant sutras. I think that way is better than just explaining things. Many years ago I did explain things to the lay people. They were good listeners but when something happened in their lives, they couldn’t deal with it according to the Dharma. So I think talking doesn’t help much. Giving them a little hint, may be better. Sometimes talking less impresses people more. They benefit from it more. Too much talking contains a lot of empty things. People can miss the significant points. Take the great monks outside, for example. They seem to have become commercialised. But we don’t think that way or that they are inferior to us who live in the mountains. It’s not like that. They are aspiring bodhisattvas doing what they can to create centres of practice. As Zen Master Xuyun put it, ‘If someone worries about others instead of letting worldly things go, if they can’t avoid this, they still resolve to attain enlightenment.’ If they had the opportunity, they would like to live in the mountains too. Nowadays, the young people who are willing to be monks or nuns and work hard, who want to do something for Buddhism, they all are sincere. How should I say? Nowadays, we monks and nuns are not so blessed. Unlike in former times, circumstances in the world were better. There were good things going on in society. Moral principles were upheld. Blessings were everywhere. At that time, even if they weren’t in the mountains, and lived in the temples instead, they maintained a good attitude and studied. Now it’s impossible. Everything is commercialised. Everyone is concerned about money. They have no choice. Otherwise they would leave and live in the mountains instead. But what would Buddhist centres be like if they did? Who would perform Buddhist ceremonies and teach Buddhism then? Hence, we are ashamed to some extent because we can’t carry such a burden. So we live simple lives here in the mountains.”

 


 

On the way to Master Ren Farong’s house:

B.P.: “Taoist Master Ren Farong lived here.”

B.P.: “Do you see that building?”

Woman: “That’s it. Found it! That’s the house he lived in. All torn down.”

B.P.: “It was here. The garden was in front.”

Woman: “See the window? It’s still the same.”

B.P.: “There’s no change. This is where I took his photo.”

Woman: “So that’s the place.”

B.P.: “See. It’s here.”

Woman: (showing a photo in the book) “See. The brick wall and the window are the same. The trees were cut down. Still the old place.”

(Inside the house.)

Master: “Oh, let me see (looking at the book). This is Road to Heaven. Good translation.”

B.P.: “If a young Taoist wants to practise, can they come here?”

Master: “Of course.”

B.P.: “After a few years here, if they want to further their practice, do they go into the mountains or do they stay here?”

Master: “Of course they can stay here. I don’t understand.”

B.P.: “I mean, as long as they practise with other Taoists, they get a deeper understanding.”

Master: “Yes.”

B.P.: “And when they want to continue, where do they go?”

Master: “in the mountains.”

B.P.: “Living in the mountains is better. Living alone or with others?”

Master: “Either is OK.”

B.P.: “They do both in the Zhongnan Mountains?”

Master: “Yes, both.”

B.P.: “Can you suggest a place?”

Master: “It’s all different now due to the development of tourism. Everything is different.”

B.P.: “So they have to move deeper into the mountains.”

Master: “Of course, sometimes, they’re disturbed. The area has been developed for tourism now. Everything is a tourist site. It’s not quiet any more.”

B.P.: “How long do those who go into the mountains stay? Three or five years? Longer?”

Master: “They can stay for more than ten years if they aren’t disturbed.”

B.P.: “More than ten years. Do they come down afterwards? Or maybe not.”

Master: “It’s hard to say.”

B.P.: “Some choose to stay in the mountains to cultivate the Taoist regimen.”

Master: “Of course.”

 


 

Bill Porter in front of a mountain dwelling:

B.P.: “Master Zhongjing! (A disciple opens the door.) Amitofo!

Disciple: “Come in.”

(Bill Porter with the Master Zhongjing having tea in the open air.)

B.P.: “This place is really quite nice.”

Master: “It’s okay. It used to be smaller. In the past, the yard sloped down from here. Over there was a brushwood gate. This side was nothing but boulders.”

B.P.: “It was all rocks.”

Master: “Over by the well there were more boulders. Because there was no place to grow vegetables, I blew up the boulders with dynamite and gradually made the place bigger and built these over here.”

B.P.: “Master, are the living conditions on the mountain better now than before?”

Master: “Compared to what we had when we first came here, the conditions are totally different. You know, in the past, I had to find a way to get everything by myself. But now, I don’t have to worry about food. Sometimes I have more than I need. I used to go down the mountain to buy things and then carry them back up here. I had to do everything myself. My life is much better now. As far as living goes, there aren’t any problems. On your way up here you can see the huts are all in good condition.”

B.P.: “There are also more huts now.”

Master: “Yes, there are more. Now I feel that there’s one thing missing. The living conditions have gotten better, but at the same time, our understanding of the Tao has receded.”

B.P.: “Excuse me?”

Master: “Our understanding of the Tao has receded.”

B.P.: (laughs) This is another problem.”

Master: “Sometimes, when the living conditions are too good, people pay more attention to pleasure and comfort. The Buddha says, ‘an understanding of the Tao only begins when you’re cold and hungry.’ Sometimes, people need to experience a little hardship.”

B.P.: “In America, there are people who wish to practise the Dharma. But they want to become buddhas right away.”

Master: “It is impossible.”

B.P.: “I’ve been practising for three years, but I’m not a buddha yet.”

Master: “Impossible. There is no short cut.”

B.P.: “When they read books, they think Buddhism is profound. They admire Buddhism. So they begin to practise. Two or three years later, they give up and begin to do something else. It’s a pity.”

Master: “We have to persevere. Without perseverance, it’s impossible. Of course, having strong self-motivation to keep up the practice is admirable. But it has to be maintained from start to finish. With perseverance and determination. Otherwise, practice is just an impulse. And when obstacles are in the way, you give up. Hardship is part of the Path. Too much hardship will make people give up. But not people of strong will. Hardship becomes their step to the next level. Right now, I feel life is comfortable up here on the mountain. It isn’t what I’d call hardship.”

B.P.: “It isn’t like it used to be.”

Master: “The conditions in the past were horrible but the great monks who lived in the mountains, monks like Xuyun, who lived at Lion Hut, what did he eat every day? He grew enough potatoes to have one every day. If the crop was good, he ate, if it wasn’t he went hungry. At least now we don’t worry about food and clothing. And the places where we live are better too. Our livelihood is secure. But in terms of pursuing the Tao, we don’t do as well as those in the past.”

B.P.: “Master, do you practise by sitting in meditation or chanting sutras?”

Master: “Sometimes I meditate, sometimes I chant sutras.”

B.P.: “Which sutra?”

Master: “Generally the Surangama Sutra.”

B.P.: “I once taught at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas in the USA.”

Master: “Oh, Venerable Xuan Hua. The Surangama Sutra was his favourite sutra. That was the sutra he used to instruct his disciples.”

B.P.: “That’s the one he used.”

Master: “He also wrote a commentary on the Surangama.”

B.P.: “And his disciples translated it into English. English version.”

Master: “Oh, that’s great. That translation was done long ago. Maybe in the 1980s.”

B.P.: “Yes, long ago.”

Master: “His was the first commentary I read. This thick. (showing with her fingers how thick the book is) It’s a good explanation. Easy to understand.”

(The master cooks dinner for Bill Porter)

Master: “The mountain is quite high. It was a tiring climb.”

 


 

Bill Porter chats with a Master by a stream:

B.P.: “Where did you live before?”

Master: “in Xi’an…”

B.P.: “At the Temple of the Eight Immortals?”

Master: “No, in Weinan, east of Xi’an.”

B.P.: “Oh, Weinan. In a Taoist temple in Weinan?”

Master: “No, not in a temple. I lived in a shrine. I’ve been practising acupuncture the past few years.”

B.P.: “Acupuncture. How long did you stay there?”

Master: “In Weinan 7 or 8 years.”

B.P.: “Why did you come here to the mountains?”

Master: “I’m old. I don’t want to do anything. You used to live in a shrine?”

B.P.: “Pardon?”

Master: “You lived in a shrine before?”

B.P.: “Yes, in my previous life.”

Master: “I lived in a shrine, then, 7 or 8 years in Weinan.”

(Bill Porter and the Master got up and walked away from the stream.)

B.P.: “After you.”

B.P.: “Have you taken this road before?”

Master: “No.”

B.P.: “This way.”

 


 

Bill Porter visits another Master:

Master: “This is Wang Chongyang; this is the founder of the Longmen School of Taoism, Qiu Changchun. There’s a Changchun Temple in Wuhan. Qiu Changchun or Patriarch Qiu.

B.P.: “He was a great hero.”

Master: “This is Zhang Sanfeng, the founder of Taiji. The meaning of the poem you read. This is something we can talk about. This isn’t like looking for something and finding them gone. So I’ll write this poem down for you. And we can give our full attention to looking for someone and finding them gone. And you can write about finding somebody.”

B.P.: “Great, looking for somebody and finding them, that will be my next book.”

Master: “This is a present for you. This is a present for you. Almighty lord of Heaven. If you come again in the future you’ll find me here. You won’t find me gone. You will always find me here. And I’ll invite you for tea again.”

(The master performs Taichi in front of Bill Porter. Then they started to climb a ladder.)

Master: “Try it. Come on. Put your stick down. (Bill Porter climbs.). Be careful. Good. Walk to the terrace. Be careful. Good! Good! Wonderful! Hahaha! Good!

(They came to a hut.)

Master: “This is a tiny house I just built. We call it a thermos house.”

B.P.: “Ah, a thermos house.”

Master: “It’s cold up here in winter. This section is hollow. I need to put something there in winter, to block it and make sure air doesn’t get in. This is one of the boards.”

B.P.: “Good. Very thick. In the past I didn’t use such thick boards. Only half this thick. This is the inside. I put this in the middle to keep it warm. It’ll be warm indeed.”

Master: “Good. Good.”

(The Master practises Kungfu.)

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中文文本

TRANSCRIPTION

隐士 (Hermit)

(开始 1:23)

波特:那棵苹果树呢?

尼姑(一):苹果树太老了,坏了!

尼姑(一):看我师父高兴的样子。

波特:对,很高兴。我也去过另外一些茅棚。我记得,我很喜欢这个茅棚,因为它是很整齐,别的茅棚是比较破烂的。可是,你师父就是很讲究,做得很整齐。她喜欢种树、种花、种菜,弄得很干净。就是一个小极乐世界。就是一个净土茅棚。

尼姑(一):嗯,就是人间净土。

波特:对。

尼姑(一):我师父的性格就是那样。她说做什么都是在修行。

波特:对。她很会修行。她很快乐,不管是什么条件。可以看得出来,她很快乐。

波特:乘波法师你在这里多少年了?

尼姑(一):35 年了。

波特:啊!哈哈,跟老师父一样!

尼姑(一):嗯,跟老师父一样!

波特:哗!很好。35年过得很快。

尼姑(一):就是嘛!我那时还年龄不大。

波特:我来的第一次是25年以前,那时候你已经在这里十年了。

尼姑(一):我就在这里十年了。

波特:我有另外一个问题。乘波法师我记得你说,你第一次来的时候是跟同学爬山。

尼姑(一):我跟居士们就是同龄的小孩爬山来这里。

波特:他们有时候会来看你吗?

尼姑(一):他们来看。他们还记得我。

波特:他们还记得,那很好!

尼姑(一):很好的。他们还来看我。我就是一直在这里,没离开过我师父。

波特:明天,在我们走之前,我一定要去她的舍利塔上香。

尼姑(一):阿弥陀佛。

波特:很高兴还有机会来终南山。

尼姑(一):阿弥陀佛。你以后还会有机会来的。

波特:我希望有,可是就不知道。

尼姑(一):会有时间。

波特:现在和以前的一样,只有一些不一样。山还在,修行人还在。这是很好。

尼姑(一):阿弥陀佛。

波特:其实修行人比以前多了一点。

尼姑(一):对呀!

波特:有新的茅棚。

尼姑(一):现在终南山的茅棚增多了。

波特:我刚来的时候,大部分的人还以为修行、宗教,都是迷信。或是因为文化革命的时候,人比较怕修行、宗教,并不是一件好事情。现在社会改变了,开放了,大家开始对修行有兴趣。山是这么大,还有地方再盖一个茅棚。

尼姑(一):十年文革对佛教是一个很大的打击。文革过了以后,佛法慢慢地兴盛了。出家人也陆续地都出家修行用功办道。

 


 

(开始 8:34)

波特:喂,法师。

波特:法师在吗?

波特:噢,是居士!

波特:小弟子!现在这里有人吗? 以前没有人。

隐士(一):阿弥陀佛。

波特:阿弥陀佛。

波特:我以前来这里,就是没有人住的。

隐士(一):这里空了应该有两年吧!没人住吧!坐这里吧!

隐士(一):作为中国人也很惭愧吧! 终南山这个地方几十年,作为中国自己人还不知道有这么一个地方, 还是靠你那本书, 才传播开来。现在最担心的一个问题就是,他们搞开发。就是要把我们这些住山的茅棚拆掉或者把住山的人赶走。他们盖统一的房子。这个问题现在比较严重。这种文化遗产,哪怕在全世界来说应该也不多了。

波特:我知道。可是我不知道现在的情况怎么样了,所以我特别来这里看一看还有没有跟以前的样子那么好。

波特:以前我写的《空谷幽兰》那本书的时候,这里没有人住的。

隐士(一):人是有,只是不经常有人住这里, 因为太潮湿了,到处都是水。

波特:不可以住在里面,要住在外面。

隐士(一):也不是,就是要把东西拿去晒一晒, 晒干了就搬进去。搬进去湿了明天又拿去晒一晒,就这样啦,暂时没办法。

波特:这个地方叫什么名字?

隐士(一):我想有空的话,就给它写几个字,就是叫他“清心洞”。

波特:清心洞。

隐士(一):但是现在都在忙其他的。我要准备一些柴火,一下雨的话,到时候没得烧又不行。

隐士(一):这里是属于大茅棚的的下面吧! 大茅棚在上面嘛!

波特:你的南方亲戚朋友会来看你吗?

隐士(一):外面修行,就尽量不要想那些,就是要放得下嘛!

波特:要放下。

隐士(一):佛教说就一定要放得下,心要安静。这只是很基本的一种说法。但是,你再深层地去了解的话呢,他那种放得下不是说你这种放得下。好比如说我们一件事情呀,比如说一只虫子咬你一口是吗,你不把它打死,你把它放了。那你只是行为上把它放了!我们要从心里面, 就是没有杀的念头。它咬我一口,我一点恨意都没有。要从心里面发出来。不是说在行为上受到压抑嘛!是吗?就不能受到压抑,就会自然的, 好像就不想杀它。杀了它,我心里面不舒服,从念头上,就不能有这种念头, 不要说行为啦!这些你比我更了解。虽然说在很久已经听说过你对佛教的了解,已经远远超过我们国内的很多修行很久的人。

波特:可是修行不是了解的事情, 是要自己实践, 自己修行。

隐士(一):一定是要在了解的同时要自修。

波特:很多人会了解佛法, 他们去什么学校、看什么书,可是不一定是修行。

隐士(一):我也不知道我自己说得对不对, 就是说很多东西不在于你了解有多少, 关键你要行动。

波特:我同意。我一直也是这个样子。当然你了解佛法那是第一步, 把你引进门。 进门以后都是靠你自己的。自己的心要放下的东西, 都是你自己要放下,不是别人,不是书里面的东西可以教你怎么放下。你要碰到东西然后学放下。

波特:这是什么菜?

隐士(一):这是小白菜。

波特:要种多久?

隐士(一):从下种到吃的话,最起码要一个多月到两个月。

波特:要两个月。那只有这一个小小的地方,有没有别的?

隐士(一):暂时在后面也准备种, 因为这个山势不是很容易,又是石头又不平,不太容易搞成平地。

波特:修行的地方差不多都是这个样子。

隐士(一):如果有地也不用太多,我们也吃得很少,吃不了多少。一个月的生活费,基本上就是把一切包在一起就是五六十块就够了。

波特:一个月?

隐士(一):就是吃呀,那些油、盐、米,还有一些其他的生活用品比如纸巾之类。很少,用不了多少钱。

波特:其实你是不是一个礼拜下去一次,去拿那些吃的东西?

隐士(一):不是。不过其他人我不知道。我又不买菜,也不干什么,就买点米呀,买点面回来。可能是十天、半个月或者是一个月才下去买一次东西。

波特:去哪里?去关帝庙?

隐士(一):就是去太乙宫那边。

波特:就是去大茅棚,然后下去紫竹林。

波特:你的水是从哪里来的?

隐士(一):水是在下面沟里面去提嘛!

波特:木材到处都可以拿。

隐士(一):我们也尽量捡一些干的,又不浪费,自己又省力。

波特:水是过滤了?都没有虫?

隐士(一):用白布过滤过了,没事的。

波特:阿弥陀佛。

隐士(一):阿弥陀佛。

隐士(一):你的这个功德已经是,可以说在现在这个世界上是非常非常的大。

波特:阿弥陀佛。先生的功德无量。恭喜! 恭喜!

隐士(一):小心一点,这个不是很牢固。我是不怕。从这边来,这边好一点。

隐士(一):我是说,因为每天太多游客从这里过,让他难走一点。如果你真的能走上来,我也接受。你看这个路你不走了,我也自己清静一点。

波特:哈哈!这是一个很好的方法。

 


 

(开始 19:15)

波特:这个洞是以前的人挖的?

尼姑(二):我挖的。

波特:你挖的?

尼姑(二):对。呵呵! 这里很凉快吧!

波特:对,夏天一定很凉快。在这里修行,打坐。你有一个打坐的地方。你用什么东西挖?

尼姑(二):用凿子,这样一凿一凿锤下来。

波特:要用多少时间?一个月?

尼姑(二):没有,有一个马来西亚学生来帮我,还有一个居士。我们三个人用了两个月的时间挖出来的。

波特:三个人两个月。

尼姑(二):因为这个土也要往外面提。

波特:对对对。

尼姑(二):其实它压实了以后,凿下来的土是很大的。外面那两个地方就是好大一堆的土就是从这里挖出去的。原来的这个地方都是平的,没有土。

波特:这是什么?这是你学印第安人吗?

尼姑(二):哈哈!不是。这是随便弄的一样东西,觉得蛮好玩的就绑在这儿了。是一个藤子弄的。没事,没关系,就是一个藤子。

波特:有自己的洞,很可爱,也很有用。特别夏天的时候。要打坐,在这里很舒服。

尼姑(二):哦!但是太凉了。如果身体的热量不足的话,你在这样的地方还会受寒。因为当你很静的时候,毛孔都是往内收的。

波特:我住在庙里面就已经开始翻译寒山拾得的诗。

尼姑(二):哦,好厉害!

波特:然后,我去山上继续翻译。然后认识一个外国朋友,他给我介绍美国一个出版社,愿意出版。其实我自己没有这个意见。出版了以后,我再开始翻译了另外一个和尚的诗,也出版了,他也是一个隐士。然后我觉得,这样的人很特别。寒山这种,我想了解真的有这样的人,如果有的话,他们的生活是怎么样的?如果你看一个诗里面,诗有时候是一个梦想,你不知道是真的还是诗人随便想象的。所以我在89年来中国,87年以前我不能来。因为我太太是中国人,是台湾人。台湾人87年以前不能来。可以来以后,我有一个想法,要来找隐士,所以我89年来了。然后偶然地碰到一些修行人。我觉得他们那么了不起。我已经把他们的生活、他们的传统、他们的习惯和修行方法写成一本书然后出版。因为我要鼓励美国修行人。我觉得美国人,他们的生活太舒服了。我要给他们一个例子,你看那么多修行人,还过着那么幸苦的生活,还是在修行。你看你们那么懒惰,什么都有,吃的住的衣服都有,那应该用功一点。所以我的目的就是这方面。我没有想到有一天这本书被翻成中文,然后发行在中国。我没有想到这个,这不是我的目的。

尼姑(二):居然在中国还这么热。哈哈!这么多人喜欢《空谷幽兰》。

波特:这也是一个好处。因为现在特别年轻的人,他们以为现在中国发达啦!不是每个人都是有钱的人。可是比以前好多了,生活好多了。很多年轻人也觉得生活还是有缺一个东西。钱是不够。当然钱是有用,可是钱是不够。可能有时候,一个年轻人看《空谷幽兰》,他们有意见,应该自己修行,不管是修行什么。

波特:我想问,你来这里修行,你每天会做什么? 你可以讲你每天会做什么?什么时候起床?

尼姑(二):我起床的时间比较早,大概四点半就起来。

波特:四点半在做什么呢?

尼姑(二):先是打坐。因为我现在在跟寺庙里不太一样,我这个时间是起来打坐。然后,大概六点钟的时间,我就会出来在外面走动,走一走。然后回去上香。然后就开始进行洗漱。在八点多钟的时候开始做饭。其实挺简单的,我平时的时候除了农活以外,我就会描描经、读读经、写写东西,画画,做这些。

波特:那你最喜欢的经是什么?每天读的经又是哪些?

尼姑(二):噢! 道家的《清静经》嘛!《道德经》,《清静经》。我现在主要念的是《清静经》,它可以背下来,其实跟《心经》差不多,也就是二百两个字,也很短,不长。

波特:那你念的时候是用口还是用心念。

尼姑(二):用心念就可以了。因为道家的功法里面,它给你一个东西,就是要养气。要养气的时候,不要说话。不说话就是在养气,内养。道家基本上都是用内养功夫,进行内养。

波特:你八点吃饭以后,也会念经看经?

尼姑(二):也会。

波特:到几点?

尼姑(二):我晚上一般到11点钟。

波特:那白天?

尼姑(二):白天不睡觉。

波特:白天不睡觉。不睡午觉?

尼姑(二):不用睡。因为很少感觉累。

波特:你在这里种菜吗?

尼姑(二):其实我自己的生活真的很简单,有的时候,我不饿的时候,我就可以不吃饭。不饿的时候就不吃。其实身体会告诉你该做什么。你饿的时候再吃。你不饿的时候,你吃了就不舒服。

波特:那你饿的时候会吃什么?

尼姑(二):就煮一点青菜,一点稀饭就可以了。或是下一点面。

波特:那这个面和饭是从哪里来?

尼姑(二):饭从哪里来啊! 有居士可以给供养,一点就够了。我每个月吃的粮食很少,大概连十斤都不到。因为我很多时候是吃这些蔬菜,但蔬菜我也吃不多。我一直食量不是很大。

波特:冬天呢?

尼姑(二):冬天就是提前买一点土豆、买一点红薯、买一点白菜,将这些储存起来就好了。秋天的时候买就刚好,可以在冬天储存。

波特:你住的地方会不会太潮湿?

尼姑(二):吃姜呀!住在山里的人,就是一般住在终南山的人都是用姜来调整寒湿。姜和花椒这些都是比较燥的,而且姜是百药之王。平时保健也可以用姜来调整自己的身体。

波特:这是当中药?

尼姑(二):这是中药。

波特:用哪一部分?

尼姑(二):这个季节我们可以用它的叶子。我们可以用它的叶子泡茶,也可以吃。它也是一种香料。

尼姑(二):味道还好吧?

波特:薄荷?

尼姑(二):你觉得是薄荷的味道?不是。它那个是藿香。藿香就是这个味道。这样闻。

波特:但是吃起来像薄荷。

尼姑(二):它有清凉解暑的效果。

 


 

(开始 29:21)

波特:道济法师在吗?道济法师?

波特:喂,里面的居士们,我就是想来给你们打一个招呼。我就是写《空谷幽兰》那本书,很少有机会到你们的大茅棚来。你们不开门没有关系,我了解。好好修行,算了,再见!

 


 

(开始 31:41)

波特:宽启法师!宽启法师!

和尚(一):阿弥陀佛。

波特:阿弥陀佛。我是王文君的朋友,美国朋友。

和尚(一):哦!请进。

和尚(一):你今年有七十几岁了?

波特:我?我71。

和尚(一):身体还可以?

波特:身体还可以。烦恼少。

和尚(一):因为修行学佛,人的心会比较开阔,他就没烦恼了。

波特:烦恼有很多,很快就老了。

和尚(一):对对,没错。呵呵!

和尚(一):人要是懂得修行,心里面就没烦恼,人的寿命就长。这是山外拿上来的。像这个就不好吃。这是现在的桃,让人用摧红剂摧红的,也不好吃。

波特:没有熟。

和尚(一):要把传统的道德保存下去。就需要行菩萨道的人去发扬和传播。没有这个的话,这个社会就很难安定下来。因为现在的社会,人类的欲望和贪心比较重。没有道德的教化,圣人的教化,这个社会就很乱。人心就很不好。就是要有像你这个大菩萨的心肠,这样的慈悲,这样的力量去传播,就能把这个社会挽救回来。可能全国各地的佛教徒都知道《空谷幽兰》这本书。呵呵!影响很大的。你是一个老菩萨、行菩萨道的最有力代表。

 


 

(开始 38:10)

和尚(二):这里还是老样子。

波特:对,看得出来。这底下都是山崖。

和尚(二):要看山崖,要在上面就可以看得到。

波特:有人吗?

和尚(二):好像没人。终南山有很多的天然石洞。在嘉午台就有一个喇嘛洞。这喇嘛洞在唐贞观年间已经就有出家人在这里修行。最有名的是民国期间,一个叫冶开的老和尚就曾经在这里住过三年。虚云老和尚、高鹤年居士也曾经在喇嘛洞,护国寺这个地方打过禅七。

和尚(二):嘉午台这次应该是20年没有来?

波特:20年没来。那个时候,能忍法师还没圆寂。

和尚(二):对对对。能忍法师好像也是95年圆寂的。大约是95年。我也记得不太清楚,应该是95年。这个肉身是09年发现。她的圆寂,就好像刚才山下吃饭的的那个老乡也知道,就是说几天不见人了。后来,他们就在这个山崖底下找到了她的尸体。后来,大家就把她盘好腿,就供奉在里面了。我看这里面还有石碑上的记载。这个地方也是能忍法师为他自己修的。后来,我在佛教协会工作,能忍师在家的儿子,他找到我,他说每一年他来祭祀他的母亲挺麻烦的。他还有一个心愿就是,他母亲这样放在这个地方,这里的僧人也觉得不太合适,意思就是能不能把他的母亲请出来,重新放到塔里面。后来,我就跟这儿的师父商量,在我们刚才上来那块儿不是有一个塔吗?那个塔旁边还有个小塔,盖了一半,就是为能忍法师准备的。但是,很不可思议,她的儿子在我们在开塔之前做了一个梦。他梦见他母亲身体没有腐烂。他还告诉我,如果开了以后,这个尸体还保存完好怎么办?我当时说这不可能的,当年是那么草率地安放的,又不是像九华山那些肉身是经过提前处理过的。如果是这样的话,我觉的那就是很稀有的了。后来,我们就请法师过来,这里的住持法师就把这个门打开了。打开一看,真的她是肉身。

和尚(二):当时,出家师父做完佛事以后,工人就把门打开了。当时看到的情形就是,她头上的帽子包括他的衣服都很完好。我们在给她整理衣服的时候发现周围的灰、土都是特别的湿。但是明显的,她的肌肉,用手一摁还是有弹性的。当时很多人都很震撼,很多人都惊呆了。能忍师的法身的周围还放了她的一些遗物,眼睛盒、钵,包括她的念珠都在旁边放着。后来,我们请九华山一个装金的师傅,才把那个肉身重新贴金后供奉到这里。现在有一个玻璃罩子把她罩起来。能忍师现在坐的这个位置就是她13年前把她安葬到这儿以后的位置。根本就没有动。

和尚(二):以前看到的肉身都是传说下来的。这尊肉身是我亲眼目睹,打开以后的原始状态。

和尚(二):上面写的是“能转物则同如来”。当然这是《楞严经》里的话。心能转物则同如来。

波特:这是从《楞严经》里来的?

和尚(二):哦!《楞严经》里的话。心能转物则同如来。忍无忍即是空王。这个意思就是能忍法师名字的藏头。

波特:很有味道。

和尚(二):这也是这么多年来终南山在近代算是唯一的一尊,保存下来的肉身。

波特:所有的终南山只有这一个地方。

和尚(二):嗯,就所有的终南山。现在知道的只有这一尊。这里面有这个老法师生前的照片。

 


 

(开始 48:30)

波特:师父!师父,你在不在?……

 


 

(开始 50:09)

和尚(三):假如我没有看过《空谷幽兰》的话,我不会和你聊天,我不会跟你说,我会把你当闲人,我不跟你说。但是我看过《空谷幽兰》,我就知道跟你聊是很有意义的。

波特:法师,我来这里的时候,以前这里没有茅棚。我记得89年的时候,没有人住在这里,好像没有茅棚。

和尚(三):21世纪初,2003年、2004年,这个茅棚就有一个出家师父在这里住。以前没有的。因为这里没水,以前没有人住。

波特:最大的问题就是水,还有木材。

和尚(三):你这一次还是从美国来?

波特:是从西雅图,美国最西北部。我住了21年在那个地方。我翻译佛经。我把《心经》、《金刚经》、《六祖坛经》还有《楞伽经》,我都翻成英文给外国人看。

和尚(三):《楞伽经》你能翻出来吗?

波特:什么?

和尚(三):《楞伽经》是比较深的。

波特:对,《楞伽经》。

和尚(三):《楞伽经》是非常深的。你能翻出来那是难得的。你在我们佛教界有两种贡献。一种贡献是实地考察终南山修行。第二在佛经翻译又是一种贡献,对世间的贡献。这两种贡献非常难得。

和尚(三):翻译只能引导。实地修行才能彻悟。但是在文字上,你得把它抛弃,文字上得抛弃它。文字是个方便。

波特:对。开始的时候,给人们一个很好的方便。人们都是靠语言,他们习惯了。

和尚(三):但是语言文字只是流通形式。在大乘佛法来讲的话,真修行才能彻悟,自己本性。佛法就在于你自己一心觉性。不要他悟。他悟出来的东西是只是个借鉴。实际上的是从自心爆发出来的那种觉性。那是真的,真的东西。

波特:慢慢到这个境界。

和尚(三):它不求外求的。求外求都是攀缘,都是方便。但它也是一个桥梁的工作。没有桥怎么能过河?没有波罗怎么能成佛。波罗是个船,船才能渡人。渡了人就把波罗这个船给抛掉。过了河就把船抛弃了。你不要把船背着走。佛法就是这样。

 


 

(开始 54:51)

和尚(四):现在我想,其实我们这个社会不面对这个现实是不可能的,就旅游这件事情。所以旅游呢,只要我们规划好,寺庙有一个非旅游的区域,然后出家人可以用功的安静的地方,这样的话也可以。

波特:这个地方很好。

和尚(四):不开放。旅游的可以来,在前面烧香拜佛。但是,后面的地方就是出家人修行的地方,就不打扰出家人,有这样的地方也可以用功。

和尚(四):山里的寺庙有我们的优势,有我们得天独厚的地方。我们不用太担心旅游的问题。因为我们这座山,上来很不容易。

波特:对,五个小时。

和尚(四):很不容易的。即使有游客,让他们来看看佛菩萨,拜一拜佛也不是一个坏事。主要是出家人修行的地方,他们不打扰,就可以了。

波特:要给他们有一个很好的印象。

波特:太阳要下去了。

和尚(四):太阳落山了。

波特:我一到台湾的的时候就住在佛光山。他们请我翻译一些东西。他说随便你选择一个东西。我翻译的都是净土宗用的十六个观象。

和尚(四):《十六观经》。有观太阳。要看日落的太阳。

波特:对对。开始的时候要看日落的太阳。每次我看太阳下去。

和尚(四):自然就想到了观经。

波特:喔,我就自然想到极乐世界了。从这里开始极乐世界就开始显现。

和尚(四):慢慢就显现了。

和尚(四):我们住山的生活就感觉像你们电影的慢镜头一样。它很慢,做事情也好,他的心也好,包括说话的量都会比较少。没有太多的事情和太多的语言说有很多的佛法要说。没有那么多事。如果真的是这样的话,可能他就坐不住了,话太多了。我在这里已经不是像那种很标准的住山的状态。很标准的住茅棚山洞的那个状态,真的是没有太多话。你让他说他也说不出来。我这里偶尔还会来人,所以有的时候还会说一些话。

波特:多说几句可以帮帮他们。

和尚(四):帮助众生真的是,我觉得说太多没有什么真实的用。因为很多时候他们虽然听得明白,但做起来还是不行。所以,我觉得真的要想帮助众生,带着他们一起用功,带着他们一起念佛,一起带着他们打坐,带着他们念经。我觉得这个方法比给他们讲讲道理还要好一些。因为前些年我也做过这样的事情。给居士们讲了很多,然后他们听得也很好。但是真的有事情发生的时候,佛法的道理他们用不上。所以我觉得,讲太多也没什么意义。有时候少讲一些,点一下就好。反而有时候我觉得说得少一点,人家会印象更深刻一些。得到的受用会更好。说多了反而人家会觉得太多东西装在这里面,不知道哪些是更重要的东西需要去抓住。

和尚(四):就说外头这些大和尚看似商业化重的这些大和尚,我们不能觉得好像他们商业化,就好像比我们住山的师父差。其实不是那样的,他们真的是发心菩萨,为了道场,就跟虚云老和尚说的抛却几世专为人忧。那没办法了,他要发菩提心了。但是真的有机缘和合的话。他们也是很想住山的。在这个时代,年轻的师父们肯发心、肯出家、肯用功,为三宝做事的都是道心很好的。我们这个时代出家人没福报,不像古代。外界环境好。社会风气都是崇尚道德,尊重道德,然后各方面都是祝愿,他们那个时候即使不在山里头,到寺庙都能够保持一个很好的状态用功。现在没有办法了,现在都被商业化也好,各方面经济化也好,他们也没有办法。要不然他们都撂桃子,都住进山里头,那些道场怎么办?该得做佛法事业的时候谁去做?所以,我们这些人其实也很惭愧,很多大的担子担不起来,在山里头就是图个清静。

 


 

(开始 1:01:06)

波特:任法融住的地方就是在这里。

女士(一):看到那个房子了吗?就是在这里,找到了。他当时住的那个房子在这边。全部都拆了。房子就是花园。看这个窗子,窗户都没有变。

波特:他还在这里照了相。

女士(一):就是这个地方。

波特:你看。

女士(一):砖墙,窗户,一模一样的。把这块地的树也拔了,一模一样,不错。

 


 

(开始 1:01:56)

师傅(一):这就是《空谷幽兰》,翻译得很好。

波特:如果一个年轻的道士要修道的话,他们来这里方便吗?

师傅(一):方便。

波特:如果他们在这里几年,还有继续修,是要去山里面还是这里?

师傅(一):方便。现在方便。

波特:我的意思是跟别的道士在一块儿修,可以修比较根本的。然后要继续学,应该去哪里?

师傅(一):还是要在山里。

波特:还是在山里比较好。那去山里面应该是一个人住还是?

师傅(一):有几个人住的也有一个人住的。

波特:在终南山都有?

师傅(一):终南山里都有。

波特:可不可以给我们介绍一个地方。

师傅(一):现在都变化了。又是开发,又是旅游,都变化了。

波特:他们要搬到比较深的地方去。

师傅(一):对,有些干扰。现在一般都发展旅游了,都是旅游区了,都不安静了。

波特:他们去山里大概待多久?3年?5年?或是……

师傅(一):要是安静,没干扰,十几年都可以。

波特:十几年都可以。他们以后会下来吗?或是不一定?

师傅(一):不一定。

波特:有的是一直留在山上。

师傅(一):对。

波特:要养道。

师傅(一):对。

 


 

(开始 1:04:29)

波特:宗镜法师!

尼姑(三):阿弥陀佛。进来,进来。

波特:我真的很喜欢这个地方。

尼姑(三):这个地方还可以。这个地方以前也挺小的,不大。以前那个小院就从这里斜着过去到那里有一个篱笆门。这边整个是大石头。

波特:喔,这是石头!

尼姑(三):以前靠近那个水井那里是块大石头。后来因为没有地种菜嘛!后来就用炸药把石头给炸了。炸了以后,才慢慢的搞成这么大。这边都是建起来的。

波特:法师现在住山的条件还好?

尼姑(三):现在的条件跟我们当初刚上山的时候,简直是天壤之别。你看以前, 不管怎样就是什么都要靠自己去买。现在基本上吃的什么的,几乎都不愁。而且有时候会感觉吃不了。那时候多事我们自己下山去买。买了以后就背上来。都是自己自理。你看现在生活其实好多了。生活方面就不存在这个问题。你沿路上来你看每一个茅棚,条件都是挺好的。

波特:茅棚多了。

尼姑(三):对,茅棚多了。现在我感觉就是唯一缺少的,条件是好,但相对来说我们的道心好像是退了。

波特:什么?

尼姑(三):就是说我们的道心相对来说是退了。

波特:这是另外一个问题。

尼姑(三):对。因为有时候人毕竟条件过于好的话,人就贪图享福。佛陀说饥寒才发起道心。有时候人适当地吃一点苦还是必要的。

波特:在美国,有些人要修佛,可是他们要很快成佛。

尼姑(三):那不可能的。

波特:我修行两三年都还未成佛。

尼姑(三):不可能的。那是速成法。

波特:他们看书觉得佛教很有道理,很钦佩佛教。所以他们自己要修。他们很多都是这样子。过了两三年,他们就放弃了,做别的去了,很可惜。

尼姑(三):起码我们要有一个长远心。持之以恒的心才可以。当然,那种精进勇猛的心,在当时发这个心也是不可思议。但是这种心态始终要保持下来。那可是有一定的毅力和决心才能做得到的。要不然的话就是三天两头的热情,到时候遇到荆棘的时候人就会退。所以苦也是一种诸道缘。但是往往过于苦的话,可以把人打趴下。但意志力强的人他就不会。苦就成了一个增上缘。现在我感觉在山上都是享福,就没有所谓的苦。

波特:没有以前的那个样子。

尼姑(三):是呀,以前的条件那么差。那些大德们在山上,你看虚云老和尚在狮子茅棚那个时候一天吃的是啥?一年365天就种365颗土豆。今天拔了就吃,他有了就吃,没了就饿一天。现在我们起码衣食无忧。住的地方也挺好的,生活也有保障。但是。我们的道心这方面,就不如那些前辈们。

波特:法师是(通过)打坐还是诵经来修行?

尼姑(三):有时候也打打坐,有时候也看看经。

波特:哪一本经?

尼姑(三):我看《楞严经》比较多一点。

波特:我以前在美国万佛城教书,他们……

尼姑(三):那个宣化上人。他老人家提倡的就是《楞严经》,教诫弟子都是用它。

波特:他还是这样子。

尼姑(三):挺好的,他老人家给《楞严经》做了一个白话解。

波特:有英文的。他的弟子翻成英文。

尼姑(三):又翻成英文了。那挺好了。他那个翻译得早。好像在80年代就有他的译本。

波特:对。很早。

尼姑(三):我最初看的时候也是看他老人家那个白话解。这么厚一本。讲得不错,他那个比较浅显易懂。

 


 

(开始 1:16:06)

尼姑(四):这些够我们吃啦!

尼姑(四):这么高的山,好像挺累的。

 


 

(开始 1:17:50)

波特:以前住在哪里?

隐士(三):西安东边渭南。

波特:渭南的。渭南也有一个道观。

隐士(三):没有道观。我在庙里面住。我这几年在搞针灸。

波特:针灸。

隐士(三):帮人看病。

波特:在那边多久?

隐士(三):在渭南待了有七八年。

波特:现在为什么要到山里面来?

隐士(三):岁数大了,不想干了。你也是在庙里?

波特:啊?

隐士(三):以前你也在庙?

波特:前一辈子。

隐士(三):我原来在庙里。又在渭南待了七、八年。

波特:有没有走过这条路?

隐士(三):还没有。

波特:就是从这里走。

 


 

(开始 1:20:17)

隐士(四):这就是王重阳。这就是我们龙门派的祖师,叫丘长春。武汉的长春观。丘长春、丘祖。

波特:这是一代天骄。

隐士(四):这个是张三丰。太极拳的。你从里面边看到的诗的思想,然后我们可以谈,不是寻人不遇吗?今天就相遇了!

波特:就是相遇了。

隐士(四):是不是?所以说我就把这首诗写下来,然后我们来一块儿用心去,来去交流一个寻人不遇。以后你还可以写一个寻人相遇。

波特:好,寻人相遇,下一本书。

隐士(四):就是嘛!这是挺好的。回头这个就送给你。无量天尊。

隐士(四):将来你随时来,我可能都会在这儿。不会寻人不遇的,都会相遇的。我还会请你喝茶。

隐士(四):试一下,来啦!把拐杖放下。慢一点就可以了。走到那个平台上去。慢点儿。太好了。

隐士(四):这是我刚刚盖的一个小房子。我们把它叫做保温房。

波特:保温房。

隐士(四):就像冬天这里很冷。我这个东西还留在这里。这一块儿空的。我冬天就把它放上去,重新堵起来。它就不会漏风。就是那个板子。挺好的。

波特:很好。而且很厚。我以前没有用过那么厚的。我们用的差不多一半。这是外面,这是里面,中间放差不多。

隐士(四):起到一个保温的作用。

波特:保温的。

隐士(四):挺好。

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Comments from Kecharians

Sharon Ong

These are my thoughts on the – Hermits: a documentary

I have just finished watching this. They may look like simpletons but they are actually very profound. They live the teachings of the Buddha, not just study them. The Buddha Dharma is sooo strong in all of them that they are able to share the Dharma so effortlessly. I particularly like the poetic verses.

This is a good one to revisit from time to time. Thank you for sharing this gem, Rinpoche!

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Karen Chong

These are my thoughts on the – Hermits: a documentary

I’ve finish watching the documentary about Bill Porter revisiting Zhong Nan Mountain. A few things stood out for me:

  1. The whole Zhong Nan mountain seems so energised as there are so many Dharma practitioners living up there.I especially like the last part of the documentary, the male hermit who is also a kungfu practitioner, he is so cheerful and always laughing, from his laughter one could feel he is so light, worries-free and i guess it’s the result from his practise that he has developed such a state of mind. The rain scene in the very last few minutes in the documentary brings out the tranquility of the mountain, making it looks like a heaven. hehe
  2. One of the masters told Bill that in this modern days, he used to teach Dharma to his lay students in the class, but after a while, he finds that by just teaching in class it doesn’t help the students, because the students can understand the teaching very well intellectually however they are not able to put the teaching into practise when they face troubles in life. The same master also said that in the past when the society is not so developed and commercialised, the environment is so conducive for everyone to practise dharma anytime anywhere without much distractions.

It’s a very inspiring video. Thanks for sharing Rinpoche.

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Wylfred Ng

These are my thoughts on the – Hermits: a documentary

Thank you Rinpoche for sharing the video with us. The video is nice and these are some of the point that I would like to highlight.

  1. The first nun in the video, have been staying in the mountain for 35 years. Along the years, she never leave her Guru, and even her Guru already pass away, she still stay in the hermit house to continue to practice.
  2. In the video, Bill Porter said that the hermit houses are now even more that 25 years ago since he first visits Zhong Nan Mountain. Even though China had developed so intensively, but there are people found that spiritual practice is more important.
  3. The lady Taoist practitioner that recommended ginger, she do not eat much, she only eat when she feel hungry. They eat to survive, not to enjoy the food. She also seldom talks when there are no visitors. The Taoist practitioner cultivates “qi” in their body. When they do not talk, they cultivate the qi.
  4. We can see that the hermit in Zhong Nan Mountain feel happy. Even though they need to stand the cold and sometimes hunger, but for them, these are not suffering. The suffering is just the projection from the lay person.
  5. I can imagine that in future, there will be many people doing retreat in KFR just like the hermit in Zhong Nan Mountain. Thank you Rinpoche for the sharing.

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Lew

These are my thoughts on the – Hermits: a documentary

Dear Rinpoche,

Thank you for sharing such meaning video for us to watch. A few things stood out for me:

  1. Bill Porter is amazing, in promoting the Zhong Nan Mountain hermits, and also come back after 25 years (at the age of 71) to revisit. He seems to remember the places very well.
  2. What is touching to know, is that there are more practitioners as compared to 25 years ago.
  3. I can see that there are similar rock caves between Zhong Nan mountain and those in Sri Lanka. They are both natural, and thousands of years ago, people has already started using them as shelter for meditation.
  4. In one of the interviews, it is said that ginger is good to counter the cold ahd humidity in the mountains.
  5. Tourism is inevitable, so some temples setup a public area for tourists to make offering, but they have private place for monks to do their retreat. If not mistaken, he mentioned that it will take up to 1 hour go into the “inner temple”, so that it does not disturb the practice. I feel this is very much what Rinpoche is establish her in KFR.

We are indeed very fortunate to have a place in Bentong, small town, not too far away from city, and yet distant enough to have the tranquility and environment to star practicing. I feel Rinpoche knows that we city dwellers are “wild animals”, and that’s why Rinpoche started something “easy” for us, such as daily circumambulation and prostration. I feel this is to prepare us to go into longer retreats in future.

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Chon Kong

These are my thoughts on the – Hermits: a documentary

Bill Porter’s deep interest in Buddhist practice and spirituality led him to write a book “Road to Heaven” on the hermit practitioner’s way, hoping to encourage Americans to learn the way they practiced in a comfortable environment. Through his book, he compassionately generates interests and encourages more people to participate in meditation. By translating books, he helped many Chinese find the path to practice Dharma.

It is not easy for ordinary people to practice Dharma or spirituality because they are disturbed by the external environment and the secular system. The practitioners in the video can let go of the secular things, including comfortable living environment, city life and go practice in the mountains. This is something that surprised me. I admire the persistence and belief of hermits and want to learn from them.

They travel long distances to climb the mountains, only to get away from the city and find a quiet environment to practice alone. In contrast, we are fortunate as our retreat center(KFR) has good environment and very good facilities. Fortunately, we have Rinpoche teachings and blessings in learning Dharma. I am very grateful. This video reminds myself again , there is no reason why we cannot concentrate on practicing the Dharma.

Thank you Rinpoche for sharing this video.

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Edward Ooi

What I have learnt from the video is that these hermit live on with a strong concept of minimalism. We hear and a lot from the video that they spent as little as they can on food, clothings and shelter. Like the first lady mentioned, she only eats when she feels hungry. In other words, she or they do not practice eating at the times we have our meals, or basically having a schedule on when to eat. I have heard that doing so actually makes our body even more active as it fully digest the food we have in our body and no nutrients go to waste. They also choose to meditate in very remote areas to avoid materialistic distractions and to have better focus in their meditation. Most of them go into retreats alone, I don’t really understand the meaning of it. However I do like to believe it tells us that we come and will leave this world alone, and so, the only person who can help us to take better rebirths in the future is ourselves which is why solitary retreats are usually preferred?

My favourite person that Bill had interviewed is probably the layman who appeared at the start of the video. Even though he doesn’t speak very clearly, and he is a layman he was very genuine, honest and in my opinion, has a lot of wisdom or has read many books regarding to Buddhism. In Bill’s interview with him, he talked about having minimal attachments in life and we should learn to let go as much as possible. Also practice to not have any desires or urges to kill.

In order to achieve a higher state of mind or to become even more successful in terms of wealth, we need to get out of our comfort zone. I personally has never been good at that aspect like a mindless vehicle on neutral mode. Learning the dharma is good thing but we have to also apply it in our daily lives.

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Abby Foo

These are my thoughts on the – Hermits: a documentary

I have watched this video. My thoughts:

  1. This mountain is a very special place because it contains hermits from different background – Taoist, Buddhist. The mountain itself is like a community that formed naturally, no pre plan involved. I like how this mountain is ‘serving’ the hermit.
  2. People living in the nature and relying the nature are more grateful people and don’t take things for granted. If compared them with the city people, city people are spoilt brat and arrogant. City people generally are taking everything for granted they don’t care about animals and their surroundings.
  3. These hermits show the world this is the right way to live. Looking at people nowadays work their whole life to buy houses or to to pay rental for the 4 walls and a roof to live and the price is so high that the ‘system’ even take away the rights for some people to have a place to live, to me this is really crazy. I always think this ‘system’ is crazy and now human wants to take away animal’s rights to live in the jungle also when they destroying the forest.
  4. These hermits are totally different from the people I know from China. Literally everyone I know in China, the Chinese, they have been telling me they want to or they need to have more money. I feel sorry for them as I know not all want more money out of greed but they need to ‘survive’. These hermits also talk and act very differently and to me, they live and act accordingly to our ancestors wisdom. This is how Chinese should live their life, not like the ‘modern’ Chinese in China always talk about money and materialism.
  5. There are a few of the hermits really inspire me. I like the young Taoist lady. She is smart, talks well and fast hehehe. I also the hermit monk that talks about some attained sangha living in the city to help people doesn’t mean they are lesser than the hermits. I agree with this very much and I relate his point to Rinpoche’s case. Also this hermit monk said just merely telling the people the theory is not enough even the people accept and understand the teachings, but guiding them, leading them to do practice is more important. Again, I can relate this to Rinpoche’s situation. In fact, it is the high Boddhisattva will choose the harder path to help people and this is exactly what Rinpoche is doing. Another hermit nun also said better life condition makes ones practice degenerate. This is somehow true. When we have more it is not necessarily beneficial and this is why ‘less is more’. Another nun, Nengren fashi where her body was not decomposed after her death is so cool. It is like what happened to the high lamas in Tibetan. Her death is not a waste of time at all and very meaningful.

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Phoebe Yong

These are my thoughts on the – Hermits: a documentary

Dear Rinpoche,

Thank you Rinpoche for sharing such a beautiful documentary with us.

I am so amaze with Bill Porter who is already 71 years old in the video still manage to climbed the mountains and cliffs to visits the huts. He is really a talented person who had translated the sutra teaching into English and had encouraged more people to learn Dharma.

Bill Porter has shared his initial intention to publish his book “Road to Heaven” was to encourage the US people with modern and comfort living style, they should engage in practice by looking how the practitioners at Chungnan mountains. The practitioners in the video have shown great respect to him, it is because of his book “Road to Heaven”, many people know able the hermits and the huts in mountains. There is more people go into mountains and engage practice now.

I do agree with Bill Porter that in current society, we have money but there is something missing in our life which is money cannot buy. That’s is Dharma. Through the dharma practice, our worried will be lesser and our mind will be widen, we also realise the suffering in samsara and gain realisation. When we have more money and living in comfort, we will get attached and will not engage in practice.

The first interviewed nun gave me a deep impression who stay at the mountain for 35 years. She has shown great respect to her guru because even though her guru has passed on, she said she is always here and never left her guru. She is very devoted to her guru.

Another monk who gave me deep impression, he had said in our modern society, it is hard to escape from reality, like tourism. He said if able to plan properly, the temple can be separate front area for public and the back area for the monks to do practice. This make me think of KFR. And he also said that if every masters live in the mountains, there will be no people to spread the Dharma. This make me immediately think of Rinpoche. Thank you Rinpoche for your compassion and kindness to spread Dharma to benefit us and many more people.

The practitioners shown they are living simple life with very basic needs. Most of their time they are used to do Dharma practice. This is so wonderful. They are look happy and peace from within. They speak softly and humble. They are all smart people because they learn the survival skills how to get their needs like water, woods and food in the mountains.

By looking at these practitioners, I am very fortunate to be able to do Dharma works and Dharma practice in KFR now where Rinpoche stay.

Thank you Rinpoche for all the love and care to me and my family.

With loves and folded hands,
Phoebe

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Wei Theng

These are my thoughts on the – Hermits: a documentary

Thank you Rinpoche for sharing this inspiring video to me. A few points that stood out for me:

  1. Bill Porter (Red Pine) is very inspiring. In 1993, he wrote a book on the Chinese Hermits after visiting Zhong Nan Mountain. However, he revisited Zhong Nan Mountain in 2014 to know more about the Hermits. This time, he is 71-year-old but he can still walk and climb the mountain to look for the hermits.
  • In one of the interview, a monk mentioned that due to Porter is practicing Buddhism and has less worldly worries so he can still be so healthy and have a clear mind.
  • In another interview, another monk also said that Porter is working very good as he practiced Buddhism but at the same time also wrote books and did translation to let more people learn Buddhism. This remind me of Rinpoche, the writers and the translators who work so hard to bring Buddhism to others.
  • I found one article that wrote about him before he revisited ZhongNan Mountain. This is a good read to understand about his background: https://tricycle.org/magazine/the-chinese-hermit-tradition-an-interview-with-red-pine/
  1. The hermits, the monks and nuns who stay in the Zhong Nan Mountain live a very simple lives. They focus most of their time on meditation, read sutra, do their practice. They eat very simple meals and some plant their own veggies. There is one lady yogi mentioned that she only have less than 10 kati’s food per month! They are all very inspiring that their focus is on practice only. Hope one day I can do the same too with KFR community.
  2. There is a temple with a layout that tourists can visit the front part while the back part of the temple are for monks to practice so that there is less disturbances. It is like Rinpoche’s plan for KFR that a temple at the front for visitors while the back part will be for serious practitioners to do their practices and will not be disturbed.
  3. A nun shared that “Hardship is part of the PATH”. Sometimes modern practitioners like us needs to go through some hardship and uncomfortable situation so that we can realise the Dharma better. She also mentioned that it is good to have strong motivation, but it is even better to have perseverance and determination when we walk the path so that we will not give up when we face obstacles. This also reminds me on Rinpoche’s way of training us to have perseverance and consistency in our practice and work hard.
  4. A monk mentioned that we need to respect some monks who are not able to do meditation in the mountain but instead stay at Buddhist centres in the cities to spread Dharma to others. This again remind me on Rinpoche who gives up the pleasure to meditate in the mountain but to work so hard to bring DS and VY to others and most of the time also have to bear with clowns.

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SC

These are my thoughts on the – Hermits: a documentary

Some of my thoughts after watching the Hermits Red Pine.

  1. In modern days, our merits is not enough to support our spiritual practice because our physical environment is full of samsaric distraction, unlike in the past where the environment was very conducive for spiritual practice. Because of the samsaric distraction, we have to retreat further away from the city to practice.
  2. Several hermits mentioned that understanding Dharma and realising Dharma is very different. You can understand Dharma from written words but to realise it, we need to practice, we need to experience. Self-experiencing is important to achieve realisation. Understanding is the first step, putting what we learn into action is how we can gain realisation.
  3. We can live very simple and be very happy. It is whether we want it or not. One of the hermit says he can live with only RMB60 per month. It is our want that makes us poorer and imprison ourselves in financial difficulty. Therefore, happiness is not relative to monetary or outer wealth.
  4. Another thing the hermits have mentioned is that the book Billy Porter has written and the translation he did are very meritorious. His works has helped the spread of spirituality.

When the hermit choose to retreat in a mountain it is because they are moving themselves away from samsaric distractions, so they can concentrate in their practice. They are practising to detach from the comfort of the modern world, from the family, from materialism. When our mind is not stable, it is better we pull ourselves away from our attachments. Instead of retreating to a cave in a mountain without modern facility and a lot of hardship, TR created KFR for us to practise and retreat from samsara. We must cherish it. Spiritual practice is not superficial, is not how we pretend to be a good or holy person, it’s about truly transforming our mind and do good virtues naturally.

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Wah Ying

These are my thoughts on the – Hermits: a documentary

Dear Rinpoche,

I have finished watching this documentary. It’s beautiful and surprisingly I like it, especially the way it was filmed and conversations between Bill Porter withe the hermits in ZhongNan Mountain. It’s filmed in a way which is natural and “raw”. Bill Porter was inspired by poet Tao Yuan Ming to go into the mountain to look for real life hermits and end up with coming out a beautiful book titled “Road to Heaven”, and re-visit to the mountain 20 years later when he was 71 years old. I guess, if not because of his trip to look for real life hermits, he might be spending his whole life in Seattle and imaging the life of hermits via the poems composed by the poets, instead of getting first hand investigation and inspired to engage deeper in meditation and his practice.

Some of the things I learned from this video are:

  • Watching the Buddhists monks, priests, and hermits who live in the mountain covered by white clouds and trees, is “familiar” in a way this way of life was described in details in novel and poems I read, and films I watched when I was young. And there are hermits living in the mountains in real life in this era.
  • The first nun Bill Porter interviewed when she mentioned she has lived in the mountain for 35 years and she never leave her guru…she mentioned this with some simple words and “unintentionally”, but one can feel her devotion and love to her guru.
  • It was amazing that after China society become more open and people are richer, the people are more open to spiritual practice and religion instead. It’s happy to know also Buddhism thrives after the Cultural Revolution, and even more people come and live in ZhongNan Mountain to engage in spiritual practice. There might be people who are trying to escape from their setbacks in real life to seek peace in the mountain, but from the conversations of Bill Porter with the hermits, and how the hermits live their life, there are definitely more and more people seeking for simpler life and focus on spiritual than materialism in life; and seeking for real happiness/more meaning in life.
  • The life of a hermit is so simple that only requires 50 to 60 RMB per month — that’s something quite “unbelievable” for city people or we who are desire so much in life. This shows lufe can be as simple as this, it’s our choice. And, it’s so true that letting go is not about we restrain ourself but do not have such thoughts.
  • Even though many spiritual inspirants meditate in the mountain but this does not mean those sangha or people who stay in the city to perform ritual, taking care of their temples and helping people are less in anyway of their spiritual practice.
  • Hardship is part of the path, hardship can help spiritual seekers in a way it becomes their foundation to the next level. Hardship is not something negative or prevent us from achieving our goal but helping us in achieving our goal.

Thank you Rinpoche for sharing with me this inspiring documentary.

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Alice Tay

These are my thoughts on the – Hermits: a documentary

Dearest Rinpoche,

3 years ago, I read an article “Amongst White Clouds – Amazing!” in Rinpoche’s blog, and that was first article I read about hermit. The video inspired and attracted me a lot with the peaceful environment in mountain. Today, I am very grateful Rinpoche sharing this video done by the same author, Bill Porter, and I humbly to share some of my thoughts here:

Inspiration by Bill Porter

I admire and respect Bill Porter in his high age for over 71 years old, he still have good motivation to visit the hermits in high mountain, to write and share all these hermits’ stories just to inspire the people especially American to do practice. Besides, he worked hard to translate for a few sutras in English for the benefit of people. Because of one of his writings “Road To Heaven”, many people were only came to know about Zhongnan Mountain. This is similar to Rinpoche’s virtue works in spreading Dorje Shugden and dharma via online. Rinpoche and the writer team’s hard work in sharing histories and real facts of Dorje Shugden including the relationship between Dorje Shugden and other lineages as well as other useful information in TR. com are really benefited to many others from all over the world.

Let go and stay a simple life

In this video, most of the hermits are living in simple hut but they look happy to stay there. The hermits understand that in order to have peace of mind, they have to let go something. This can be related to Rinpoche always advise us to stay near or at KFR which can really help us to focus and not easy to get distracted by material things and people. Simple living is actually helps to increase our wisdom to overcome problems/obstacles. Dharma and practice cannot be learned from the books but through the practice of mind. Just like one of hermits said if we tell too much to a person and he did not put into the practice, it actually cannot help him. Therefore, we can show the person how to pray to Buddha, do offerings, guide him do meditation and chant sutras. Even though we only give him a little hint, but through our practice, it can help the person.

Gratitude, Perseverance and determination

It is very inspiring when one of the lady hermits carved a staying place for herself (together with her friends) by using chisel only. This is not an easy task but she able to do that with her determination so that she can do practice in the mountain. This reminds me to be grateful that I have a guru who is very kind and compassionate and allowing me to stay near to guru to learn and practice dharma. Gratitude to all the sponsors to build KFR as a peaceful place for practicing dharma. With that, I should have strong faith, motivation and never give up easily the dharma for the benefit of others.

Diligence in the practice

Master Nengren passed away in 1995, but dead body found in 2009 in perfect condition. This is the only one imperishable fleshes being gilded and enshrined in Zhongnan Mountain. This showed that when we practice diligently with full concentration, persistency with right view and understanding, eventually it leads us to achieve the enlightenment.

Thank you Rinpoche. I humbly hope more people to watch this video and get inspired to practice not only for themselves but for all sentient beings.

Thank you and take much care.

Yours humbly with folded hands.

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Cindy Hew

These are my thoughts on the – Hermits: a documentary

Interactions of Bill Porter & Master Chengbo

I really liked how Master Chengbo’s guru is a real-life example of a practitioner who truly embrace everything in her life as a practice. Be it housekeeping which is seen as practice of mindfulness to the conditioning of her mind/thinking to always see the truth of the matter (instead of heavily bogged down by “tainted” perceptions) and hence, able to stay happily unaffected no matter the situation.

In fact, it appears to have “rubbed off” on Master Chengbo who gives out a calm, collected and ever grateful vibe. Both serve as good reminder to view everything as practice. It also reminded me how more often than not, I am guilty of a disconnect in my learning and my practice which primarily stems from compartmentalising mind (and the need to work on it).

Exchanges with a lay practitioner (man in red shirt & straw hat) at mountains
The lay practitioner sincerity shines through despite him maintaining that his Dharma knowledge is lesser than Bill Porter. This is apparent when;

  1. He responded that he came to the mountains to practice and so, he tries not to think about things which would cause him to waver like his families, friends and life in the city. On this note, he has really changed his environment in order to further his spiritual journey.
  2. He used the example of refraining from killing an insect where he stresses that the point is not the restraint but rather to rid of the cause of such killing instinct which he attributes to anger.

In this sense, it shows that he really contemplates on things and makes the effort to re-program his habits so that the positive thinking/realisations become his second nature.

I also agree with the both of them that it is not how much you know but how much you practice that matters. After all, Dharma is never meant to be academic or intellectual stimulant only. To render Dharma as academic or intellectual pursuits, is basically missing the whole plot all together.

For this segment, I find the lay practitioner’s sincerity to his practice very admirable and I pray that his fears of being driven out of the mountains due to the government’s economic development initiatives do not materialise so he can continue his practice peacefully.

On that note, similarly like Lew, I remain grateful to Rinpoche for conceptualising KFR where we are given a safe and somewhat isolated environment which is highly blessed and energised with holy “energies” for us to effect a change in our environment and re-program ourselves.

Compassionately taking into account our limitations, karma and temperaments, Rinpoche has painstakingly and skilfully created conditions to ease us into practising and also preparing ourselves/creating the causes for us to deepen our Dharma practice.

Exchanges with a lady practitioner who carved out her private cave

I was just as surprised as Bill that this lady painstakingly carved out more space within the cave with basic tools, a chisel and hammer, but what I really like is her pragmatic approach where she did it in order to make it more conducive for her to meditate and practice. I am inclined to believe that her pragmatic attitude also prompted her to take interest in farming as well as herbs or plants with medicinal properties for self-sustaining purposes.

Interestingly, she also mentioned taking ginger (and Sichuan pepper) as means to address the cold and dampness.

It is very nice and inspirational to see real spiritual practitioner in action regardless that she is of a different faith (Daoism).

Interactions with a practitioner at Master Kuanqi’s abode

Both of them mentioned that when you practice you have less worries which leads to longer life. I believe in addition to that, the mantra and prayers we recite contributes towards prolonging our lives in order for us to further our spiritual practice (subject to our karma). After all, apart from mantras being holy energies of the Buddhas in the form of sound, it is said that mantras invoke upon the Buddhas, and so they can be used for healing and for blessing the sick as well as those deceased. That coupled the purification practices and merit generating activities (which Dharma practitioners engage in as part of the practice) would contribute accordingly too.

Further, the practitioner’s comment about Bill Porter’s publications to spread Dharma to the modern society as an example of the old and new Bodhisattva path brings to mind Rinpoche’s multi-facetted “unconventional” ways of spreading Dharma geared towards engaging the minds of today’s generation.

Discussion about Master Nengren

Hearing about the illustrious history of Lama Cave in Jiawutai which was used for meditation from 627-649 AD (ancient Tang Dynasty of China), makes me feel like going there myself. Although admittedly I don’t really know of the meditators mentioned (from 39:09 onwards) but it is something to KIV.

The events leading to Master Nengren’s final resting place are also very fascinating serving as a clear testament to her attainments. A bonus for me was to be able to see footages of her body which hadn’t decomposed over the years since those involved actually captured it on record.

Exchanges with a Mahayana practitioner

The boat parable mentioned by the practitioner is one of my favourite from before I was really involved in Dharma. Ironically, I heard it from an atheist, we were having a conversation and he raised it to highlight the dangers of fixated religious views. When I subsequently read up on the parable, for some reason it really drove the point home for me about the importance of learning Dharma properly and the danger of clinging to views, even if such views are stainless as the problem then lies in the grasping and not the object.

Exchanges with monk at temple mountain which is partially opened to public

A few things that stood out to me;

  1. I liked the pragmatic view of the monk in coming to a workable compromise between the growing interest of tourists and the need for solitude for further practice i.e. segregated the areas for tourists and also place where serious practitioners can proceed undisturbed. After all, it would also benefit those tourists to be at such place with real serious practitioners especially since such tourists would have some good karma/merits driving them to go there since it is not an easy hike up (took Bill about 5 hours).
  2. I agree that actions do speak louder than words. Regardless if hours of talking is a manner which appealed to or easily accepted by some or not, the fact remains that a speaker will be more convincing if such speaker walks the talk.
  3. The lack of sense of superiority from the monk for abandoning samsaric life to practice in the mountains reflect his real practice. I also like how he is very respectful of those who opt to put aside their wish to go into retreat at secluded places but instead stay within the modern society to spread the Dharma.

Exchanges with Taoist Master Ren Farong

The logic behind Rinpoche’s wishes for a spiritual community is also echoed by Master Ren Farong who also believes it will help with the spiritual aspirants practice to be in an environment where there are other fellow practitioners – be it for ease of reference/study or the encouragement to practice.

Exchanges with Master Zongjing

A few things that stood out to me;

Master Zongjing views some hardship necessary for realisation of Dharma based on her observation that the living conditions for hermits/meditators at the mountains are better but at the same time the understanding of Dharma has rescinded (in that comparatively, great master of the past who stayed in harsher conditions fare way better in term of Dharma practice). Despite still being wary of hardships, I would agree since from personal experience, some of the Dharma teachings made more sense quicker and are more relatable due to certain challenging/difficult past experiences.

Further, just like Rinpoche, Master Zongjing also stresses on the importance of consistency, determination and perseverance in spiritual practice.

Overall, another aspect which appealed to me from this video (apart from me having a thing about mountains) is how it now serves as another candid “truth bomb” for me to “pull out” to “jolt” myself whenever things get really challenging for me. After all, these are real life examples of sincere practitioners who walk the talk and keep practicing even in harsh conditions. As one of the practitioners have mentioned, someone else’s enlightenment through practising Dharma or their dedication towards spiritual practice is good as reference. Thank you, Rinpoche for sharing this fascinating video.

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Visiting the Zhongnan Mountains

Hermit15

Click on image to enlarge

Click on image to enlarge

The Zhongnan Mountains, also known as the Taiyi Mountains, are actually a section of the larger Qinling Mountain Range which lies west of Mei County, Baoji City and east of Xi’an Lantian County. It has become famous as a holy land due to the hermits that have lived there since ancient times. According to some statistics, the mountains are home to perhaps 5,000 hermits from all over China. These hermits usually spend extended periods of time learning under their teachers before venturing off into the mountains to enter long periods of spiritual retreat.

 

Chinese visas

Foreigners are required to apply for a visa to enter China. Applicants can opt for either single or double entry and Tourist/Family Visit Visas or ‘L’ Visas, which can be obtained easily. The maximum duration of stay under an ‘L’ Visa is 30 days, which is valid for three months upon date of issue.

All visas come into effect upon entering China, and stays of up to 90 or 180 days are possible. Visa applications can be submitted through travel agencies or regional Chinese embassies and consulates. Up-to-date information for visa requirements is best obtained from your local Chinese representative’s office.

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The visa application process usually takes three to five business days, while same day or next day services are usually available at a higher fee.

For visa extensions in China, visit the local Public Security Bureau’s Foreign Affairs Department or apply through a local travel agency. A one-month extension may be granted at the discretion of the issuing officer. Consider Hong Kong as a destination for a new visa into China without having to travel too far.

There are certain travel destinations within China that require special travel permits, and applications to visit these locations should be done prior to entering the country to avoid disruptions to travel plans.

 

How to get to the Zhongnan Mountains

Xi’an, the capital of Shaanxi Province is the closest metropolitan city to the Zhongnan Mountains. Click on image to enlarge.

Xi’an, the capital of Shaanxi Province is the closest metropolitan city to the Zhongnan Mountains. Click on image to enlarge.

Lantian County of Xi’an, the capital of Shaanxi Province in China is the closest metropolitan area close to the Zhongnan Mountains. It can be reached via China National Highway 312 from Xi’an City.

Xi’an itself boasts of the Xi’an Xianyang International Airport which lies 41 kilometres northwest of Xi’an City centre. It is China’s 8th busiest airport since it acts as a transportation hub for the entire northwest of the country. It is served by both domestic and international airlines, with connecting flights to Hong Kong and Macao, and Fukuoka, Hiroshima, Niigata and Nagoya in Japan, as well as many other international cities. It is served by the likes of Air Asia, Air China, Cathay Dragon, Hainan Airlines, Korean Air, Tianjin Airlines, and many more. Please contact your local travel agent for more information.

Tours and excursions to the Zhongnan Mountains can be arranged through hotel reception desks and tour operators based in Lantian County, Xi’an. Please contact your accommodation provider for more information and prices.

 

Where to stay

Luxury Accommodation:

Gran Melia Xian
Address: NO.1666, Qujiangchi West Road, Qu Jiang District, Yanta, 710054 Xi’an, China

Tel: +86 29 6821 6666

Website: https://www.melia.com/en/hotels/china/xian/gran-melia-xian/index.html

Grand Park Xi’an
Address: No.12, Huancheng South Road, Beilin, 710068 Xi’an, China

Tel: +86 29 8760 8888
Website: https://www.parkhotelgroup.com/en/xian

Sofitel Xian On Renmin Square
Address: 319, Dong Xin Jie, BeiYuanMenXiaoChiYiTiaoJie, Xincheng Qu, 710004 Xian Shi, Shaanxi Sheng, China

Tel: +86 29 8792 8888

Gran Melia Xian

Gran Melia Xian

Comfortable Accommodation

Hantang Inn Hostel
Address: 7, Nanchang Lane, Xincheng Square South, Xincheng, 710002 Xi’an, China
Tel: +86 29 8728 7772

Xi’an Xiangzimen Youth Hostel
Address: No.16, Xiang Zi Miao Street, Xi’an, China, Beilin, 710001 Xi’an, China
Website: https://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/Xi-an-Xiangzimen-International-Youth-Hostel/Xi-an/19596

Skytel Xi’an
Address: No.32, Nandajie, Beilin District, Beilin, 710001 Xi’an, China

Tel: +86 29 8763 2017

Xi'an Xiangzimen Youth Hostel

Xi’an Xiangzimen Youth Hostel

 

Useful Information for Visitors

Time Zone

China’s official time zone is UTC+8. According to the world time zoning standard, although China’s land mass lies between the eastern 5th to 9th time zones, all locations in China have adopted the eastern 8th time zone, commonly known as ‘Beijing Time’, for the sake of convenience.

China2

Ethnic Groups

China officially recognises 56 distinct ethnic groups, the largest of which are the Han who constitute 91.51% of the total population according to a 2010 survey. Ethnic minorities constitute 8.49% of China’s population including the Zhuang (1.28%), Manchu (0.84%), Uyghur (0.78%), Hui (0.71%), Miao (0.71%), Yi (0.61%), Tujia (0.63%), Mongol (0.46%), Tibetan (0.43%), Buyi (0.23%), and Korean (0.15%). Regardless of differences in population figures, all ethnic groups share equal rights in China.

China3

Religions

China is a multi-religious country where Taoism, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity and Catholicism have all developed with large numbers of followers. The government’s policy is to allow freedom of belief and general religious activities are protected by the constitution.

Language

Chinese is the official language of China for written and spoken communication. Among the 56 ethnic groups, the Hui and Manchu use the same Chinese language as the Han while the others have their own spoken and written language. Chinese has also been used as a written language for over 6,000 years, and is one of the five working languages designated by the United Nations.

China4

 

Etiquette

Click on image to enlarge

Click on image to enlarge

(1) Homes and Temples

Remove your shoes before entering homes or temples. This is a custom followed by many Chinese. Do not worry if your feet are less than presentable. You can always ask your host whether you should remove your shoes before entering. Avoid showing the soles of your feet to others while seated. When you sit and cross your legs, point your feet towards yourself.

(2) Conversation Topics

Unless absolutely necessary, the Chinese avoid talking about death at all times as it is considered a serious and ominous topic. The colours white and black represent death, and as such should be avoided when gifts are given. Avoid wrapping gifts in black and white paper or ribbons.

Comparisons between China and Japan as well as political and religious issues should also be avoided in conversation, as it could cause embarrassment. Avoiding topics such as these will keep your conversations positive and friendly.

(3) Interpersonal Communication

Patience is very necessary when travelling to a foreign country. Do not expect the locals to speak English; if you can communicate in the local language, however limited it may be, they will appreciate it greatly. A travel phrasebook may come in handy during your stay. When communicating, avoid pointing at people or beckoning with one finger. Instead, motion with the palm of your hand.

(4) Affectionate Touch

The Chinese do not show their affection freely with hugs or kisses. They may push and shove up against others for a place in line or a seat in public but when you first meet them, it might be best to simply greet them verbally or with a slight nod of your head instead of trying to shake hands. Handshakes, kisses and hugs may feel unnatural to most Chinese, as personal contact is not common. Due to differences in tradition and religion, a person’s head is considered most sacred, and to touch another person on the head is generally considered disrespectful.

(5) Gift Giving

Consider travelling with gifts, especially if your travel plans include meetings with individuals. Appropriate gifts given at appropriate times may be useful in building a good and friendly relationship with the locals. It is usually considered appropriate in China for the receiver to refuse a gift to show restraint. Generally, a gift may require several offers before it is finally accepted as a sign that the receiver is not greedy. Likewise, to save the giver’s face, a gift may not be opened in your presence. The same principle is applied to a compliment which is not usually accepted to prevent the appearance of vanity.

(6) Choosing Gifts

Items to be avoided as gifts include chrysanthemums, gladioli, clocks and white handkerchiefs, as these items connote death and sadness to the Chinese. Generally speaking, various cultures in China ascribe different meanings to certain colours. Yellow, pink and red are acceptable colours for gift wrapping, but avoid white and dark colours that are commonly associated with bad luck.

The word ‘umbrella’ (伞) in Chinese sounds like ‘the act to split up’, hence it is not an item to be given as a gift. Green hats are also taboo, as the phrase ‘to wear a green hat’ (戴绿帽) means ‘to be cuckolded by one’s unfaithful wife’ in Chinese.

As the Chinese word for ‘four’ sounds like the word for ‘death’, you should avoid giving anything in fours. However, gifts that come in sets of eight or nine, such as a set of eight or nine tea cups or pieces of candy are considered a good omen. ‘Eight’ is pronounced ‘fa’ (发) in Chinese, and sounds like another word with the same pronunciation, meaning ‘wealth’ or ‘good fortune’, while ‘nine’ is pronounced ‘jiu’, (久) which sounds like another word meaning ‘long lasting’ or ‘long life’.

Whether you are receiving or giving gifts, please do so with both hands as a sign of respect.

(7) Tips

Tipping is not a practice that is observed in China. Cab drivers, restaurant staff and hotel bellboys do not expect to be tipped and may be offended if offered extra money. However, there is an exception to this practice, which is during tours catered to foreign visitors. The individuals working on these tours often depend on tips for their income so it is wise to budget for tipping guides and drivers.

(8) Chinese Hosts

The standard practice at a meal hosted by a Chinese person is for the elder or senior person to invite guests and be the host. Although they may be unsure what a foreigner will do when they invite you to a meal, amongst themselves they are clear who the host will be. The host will order all dishes for the meal without the consent of others, and it is considered rude if guests start ordering their own food. Although it may be acceptable for a foreigner to tell the host what they like or dislike, most often it is still considered bad etiquette. Restaurant bills are never shared in China. There is no practice of splitting the bill, and it may embarrass the host if you chip in to help cover the cost. Bear in mind that if you invite people out for a meal, you are expected to pay the entire bill.

(9) Table Manners

Chopsticks should be used appropriately throughout meals. Chopsticks are meant to be used for eating only, so do not use them to gesture towards items or individuals, or use them as drumsticks or as play items at the dining table. Chopsticks are to be placed on top of the bowl when the meal is finished, not inside the bowl, and definitely not straight up in the food as that is an ill omen representing death or a curse against others at the table. Learn to hold chopsticks by not sticking any of your fingers out and pointing at others at the table.

(10) Stay Calm and Patient

It is very common for something unexpected to happen while you are traveling. Do not make a scene or get upset, as this will lead to the people you are dealing with to lose face, leaving the situation unresolved. Always remain calm and patient when dealing with the unexpected in China, or ask your guide for help in solving the issue at hand.

Sources:

  • https://filmfreeway.com/423180
  • https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4076856
  • http://www.chinatouradvisors.com/blog/Zhongnan-Mountain-Hermits-1277.html
  • https://www.travelchinaguide.com/attraction/shaanxi/xian/zhongnan-mountains.htm
  • http://beijingbookworm.com/happenings/meet-the-author-bill-porter/
  • http://sinosphere.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/07/17/q-and-a-bill-porter-on-travel-writing-in-china/?_r=0

 

For more interesting information:

 

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8 Responses to Hermit – A Profound Documentary by Bill Porter

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  1. Wai Meng Wan on Oct 30, 2018 at 3:21 am

    All these Chinese hermits are very courageous and determined to engage in spirituality, they are willing to face themselves and discover the truth from within, sounds very cliched but thats exactly what they are doing on the Zhongnan mountains.

    I also admire Bill Porter, despite being aged he was still willing to do investigations and find out more about the Chinese Hermits condition and situations. Many thanks to Bill Porter for his adventurous spirit and his spirit of investigation.

  2. Samfoonheei on Sep 27, 2018 at 11:50 am

    Inspiring documentary……which I do enjoyed watching. They the hermits have so little and so much hardship and yet they don’t give up dreams living in the harsh mountains to pursue spirituality. That’s where they find a piece of mind to mediate and practice to transform their mind. Such a peaceful, quietness surrounding where the sound of birds chipping . In every walk with nature those hermits receives far more than they seeks. Staying close to nature to practice in the remote mountains is that’s where they call home.
    Bill Porter at age 70 plus is just simply amazing going up to those remote mountains in Zhongnan Mountains in China in search of answers about their way of life of the hermits . Salute to a great inspiring man. (Practicing and studying Buddhism expands a person mind. ) as well said by Bill Porter. That’s a lot to learn from the documentary , listening to the hermits tell us a thousand inspiring words.
    Thank you Rinpoche for this interesting and inspiring post.

  3. cc on Sep 7, 2018 at 2:14 pm

    Thank you Rinpoche. 🙏🙏🙏

    Indeed inspiring.
    With his work, he has benefit many people.

    The documentary is so simple and peaceful with the bird chipping and surrounded by nature and life is so simple without disturbance.

  4. Tsa Tsa Ong on Sep 4, 2018 at 9:27 pm

    Really respect the hermit way of life. Bill Porter can really speak good mandarin although i can’t really understand mandarin very well. How wonderful it would be if we can also practice the way they live and yet can still have access to the internet 😂😎 Thank you Rinpoche and blog team for sharing this interesting and inspiring documentary 🙏👍😍

  5. Julia Tan on Sep 4, 2018 at 12:30 pm

    The documentary may looked very simple but when you listen carefully, you can hear the nature, the words of wisdom and the happiness from within these hermits. They chose to be in the mountain and away from the people to practice and they believe to transform their mind it has to depend on themselves. Once they are there, they never leave. Just like those Tibetan lamas meditate in the caves in the mountain until they achieve attainment. The lady master whose body still naturally preserved is a sign of enlightenment.

    Their minds are peaceful and filled with wisdom, their body is strong although they eat very little and live very simple. What we need is very little and simple. At the end of the day what’s left for us to take with us to our next life is simply our mind and karma.

  6. Pastor David Lai on Aug 26, 2018 at 1:57 am

    Although the documentary starts pretty slow but as soon as one gets enveloped by the sound of birds and meaningful conversation, one gets caught up with the depth of
    the wisdom of the words being said. Their words are pregnant with the practice of these hermits. The serenity and elegance of their faces, weathered by hardship and lit by the glow of their each individual meditative practice.

    Each has a unique story and although not necessarily Buddhist, some are Taoist cultivating their own philosophical ideal but have abandon the attachments of modernity in return for the reward of the ultimate. In a way, it has inspired me to long for something I didn’t realize I long for – the quietude of contemplation. It’s a good video to watch especially for those who wish to engage in extended retreats or to plant the attractive notion of extended periods of practice in our minds as well of us will grow old and what a wonderful way to age in the quietude of practice in preparation for the inevitable journey.

  7. Wei Theng on Aug 22, 2018 at 3:23 pm

    Very inspiring documentary.

    From the video, it makes me more appreciated on Rinpoche and also we have Kechara Forest Retreat and the KFR communities that we can have an “Oasis” that we can practice Dharma in this modern society. May the vision of 108 KFR communities come true soon.

    Thank you Rinpoche.

    With folded hands, Wei Theng

  8. Chris on Aug 21, 2018 at 8:38 pm

    This is a really good documentary where Bill Porter traveled into the Zhongnan Mountains where many had came to enter into hermitage. The hermits he meet all are very kind. The first thing they do is always offer him some food or hot tea even though they have very little themselves. They are so generous and kind.

    Then when they start to talk about their whole experience being a hermitage, I can see that all of them have a gentle expression on their face which is the expression of content and peaceful. Who knows that they have none of the money, branded items, and big cars can live so happily with content. While many those who have everything but they still feel depress and some had even committed suicide. Some of them are quite young but they already can understand the purpose of life is not about chasing unrealistic materialistic dreams.

    Living simply is the key to happiness after all.

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  • Sofi
    Wednesday, Apr 24. 2019 11:21 PM
    Neerja Bhanot – A Selfless Heroine

    She may be gone but she should not be forgotten for her brave deeds. Due her selflessness, she had saved many from the terrorists. Imagine under such conditions of fear and terror, she is still able to give up her safety for others. Do read of how Neerja Bhanot is a true heroine.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/current-affairs/neerja-bhanot-a-selfless-heroine.html
  • Sofi
    Wednesday, Apr 24. 2019 11:02 PM
    Rexie: the Australian Heroine

    Read about this loving dog that is protective of his family but also had save many lives. She had a special gift of saving people from suicide. We should never look down on animals just because they speak a different language and different set of living standard than us.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/animals-vegetarianism/rexie-the-australian-heroine.html
  • Sofi
    Wednesday, Apr 24. 2019 10:17 PM
    My Strange Addictions

    Many people develop some form of addition as an escape or temporary respite from the stress of life. But addictions are usually something that could affect our lives adversely, like drugs, sex, alcohol, smoking, food, etc. Do read more to find out stranger addictions that people have.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/current-affairs/my-strange-addictions.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Wednesday, Apr 24. 2019 12:44 PM
    Beautiful art painting Of Vajrapani and Dorje Shugden paints a thousands words. As a protector and guide of Gautama Buddha and rose to symbolize the Buddha’s power and Dorje Shugden a Dharma Protector in order to safeguard the Buddha’s teachings form a powerful combination in this beautiful thangka. It will be wonderful to have it printed in our house or on our altar.
    Thank you Rinpoche for this sharing.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/one-minute-story/the-lord-of-secrets-vajrapani
  • Samfoonheei
    Wednesday, Apr 24. 2019 12:42 PM
    Beautiful art paintings of White Tara , Ushnishavijaya (Namgyalma), Amitayus, Dorje Shugden. In Tibetan Buddhism, White Tara is also known as Jetsun Dölma as a Buddhist saviour-goddess with numerous forms, widely popular in Nepal, Tibet, and Mongolia. She is the protective, helpful and comforting mother who shows limitless kindness, generosity and protection to all who rely on her.
    Thank you Rinpoche for this wonderful sharing.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/one-minute-story/the-supreme-saviouress-white-tara
  • Samfoonheei
    Wednesday, Apr 24. 2019 12:41 PM
    The importance of cleanliness in our lives cannot be denied. Maintaining a clean environment is for the health of all humans. As our health completely depends on the surrounding atmosphere. The practice of cleaning is not only for the environment, but also for our mind . We can change our recognition of cleaning from something that’s negative to something that’s positive, then our quality of life will improve. The importance of having a clean room, clean environment is to respect the people we invited to. To develop the clear mind, we need to be aware of being very mindful, everything should be clean. Make it as a practice, consistently .
    Thank you Rinpoche for this wonderful sharing.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/one-minute-story/the-importance-of-having-a-clean-room
  • Sofi
    Wednesday, Apr 24. 2019 06:03 AM
    The Life of Yul Brynner (1920 – 1985)

    Read about this actor who acted in the King and, which won morvie acclaims worldwide. Interesting to learn of his life.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/film-tv-music/the-life-of-yul-brynner-1920-1985.html
  • Sofi
    Wednesday, Apr 24. 2019 05:29 AM
    Tyurgen Wowed with Mongolian Throat Singing

    An amazing Russian who won the judges’ hearts with Mongolian throat singing. You should listen to his powerful ability which is unique and welcoming.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/one-minute-story/tyurgen-wowed-with-mongolian-throat-singing
  • Sofi
    Wednesday, Apr 24. 2019 05:22 AM
    10,000 Mongolians receive Dorje Shugden!

    An amazing feat! Authentic Dorje Shugden initiations for 10,000 Mongolians. Read more here:

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/dorje-shugden/10000-mongolians-receive-dorje-shugden.html
  • nicholas
    Wednesday, Apr 24. 2019 05:18 AM
    It’s so rejoiceful to see Mr Yao Ming the professional basketball player use his celebrities platform and reputation to lessen the suffering of others. Mr. Yao Ming speak for the unable to speak for themselves and so rely on us to protect them. Millions of sharks, which are endangered, will be saved thanks to Mr. Yao Ming’s actions. I hope more and more people will be inspired by his example to speak up against cruelty towards animals. With growing awareness of vegetarianism and so many options for food these days, even in mainstream restaurants, there is no need to keep consuming meat or seafood.
  • Yee Yin
    Tuesday, Apr 23. 2019 07:37 PM
    Do you know China is a multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-religious countries? There are more than 50 ethnic groups in China. Different ethnic groups have their own cultures, customs and traditions but all of them live in harmony. Check out the photos of these beautiful people, their traditional costumes are so colourful and vibrant.

    http://bit.ly/ColourfulChina
    [no sender]
  • Yee Yin
    Tuesday, Apr 23. 2019 07:23 PM
    Mount Fanjing in China at 2,572 meters above sea level, is situated in southwestern China’s Guizhou Province. In the 16th century, Mount Fanjing was one of China’s sacred Buddhist mountains. It is said to be the abode of Buddha Maitreya. In recent years, it has again become a popular tourist destination.

    http://bit.ly/HolySite
    [no sender]
  • Yee Yin
    Tuesday, Apr 23. 2019 07:14 PM
    Master Cheng Yen must have a very strong Dharma imprint. Even though in the beginning she did not have a teacher, she knew she wanted to be nun, she wanted to renounce and use her life to serve others. It was not easy to embark on the spiritual journey but it did not scare Master Cheng Yen. She found ways to spread Dharma and she has been very successful.

    Today, Tzu Chu foundation has its presence all around the world. Whenever there is a disaster, they will be the first to offer their help. Their selfless compassion is highly respected and acknowledged by many. This is how much impact one person can make if we walk the talk and show people by example. The most important thing is not to give up and be very determined in serving others.

    http://bit.ly/TR-AmazingWoman
    [no sender]
  • Samfoonheei
    Tuesday, Apr 23. 2019 12:35 PM
    Back in 1996, H H Dalai Lama had made a controversial statement about Dorje Shugden that have caused much disharmony, sufferings among Tibetan Buddhism practitioners . The Tibetans were divided into two , families torn apart just as they do not agree and accept the practice of Dorje Shugden. The African Americans of black people and slavery , the women in Finland, Iceland, Sweden and some western U.S. states, slavery are some of the historical similarities with Dorje Shugden ban where they suffered badly such as physical abuses, denied services to hospitals, restaurants , schools and so forth having many signs and boards installed to prohibit them from entering. Those who refused to follow their order or to give up their practice were conform faced torture, imprisonment discrimination and abuse. Tibetans in exile, wicca, pagans and so forth are denied their rights of religious freedom. Everyone should have their own rights to choose what we believe and practice. The Dalai Lama have said that Dorje Shugden cannot harm him , as proven Dorje Shugden is not evil. It is recognised to be an emanation of the bodhisattva Manjushri and a dharma protector. They (CTA ) should stopped and should not be involved in religion. Allow religious freedom for the sake of all, and future generations to come. Peace and harmony must be maintained, for the growth of a nation.
    Thank you Velentina for this well researched article to bring more awareness and knowledge for many of us and these abroad.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/buddhas-dharma/comparisons-of-the-dorje-shugden-ban-with-historic-persecutions.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Tuesday, Apr 23. 2019 12:27 PM
    A beautiful story of guru devotion of a Russian princess Buddhist nun. Very inspiring , she was a Russian-born French-American socialite, film actress, and Gelug Tibetan Buddhist nun. The legendary Zina Rachevsky was the earliest Western student and patron of Lama Yeshe . She came from an incredibly wealthy family, having everything money, fame, beauty yet she was not happy and that triggered her soul-searching. Travelling to India, that’s where she met Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa. That’s the first time they encounters with Westerners and Lama Yeshe was glad to learn that this wealthy lady came to them in search of enlightenment. Zina became the first Western student of Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa . It was her request and insisted that the Lamas to teach Westerners on Buddhism. She led her life to the fullest from her Hollywood days to renouncing everything.
    Thank you Rinpoche for this inspiring article of a princess turned nun.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/people/the-russian-princess-nun.html

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Such a powerful imagery of Lord Buddha's determination. Fasting Buddha's meaning- http://bit.ly/2VCfKLa
This poor boy is being forced to leave his friend to be sold for slaughter. Children have a natural connection with animals, and they know it is wrong to hurt and kill them. Children lose this connection by being indoctrinated (brainwashed) by their parents/peers into believing animals are here to be exploited, killed, and eaten.- from Lucinda Smyth FB page
2 weeks ago
This poor boy is being forced to leave his friend to be sold for slaughter. Children have a natural connection with animals, and they know it is wrong to hurt and kill them. Children lose this connection by being indoctrinated (brainwashed) by their parents/peers into believing animals are here to be exploited, killed, and eaten.- from Lucinda Smyth FB page
Some people really struggle and put in so much effort in their lives. Amazing. Tsem Rinpoche
2 weeks ago
Some people really struggle and put in so much effort in their lives. Amazing. Tsem Rinpoche
18th Century Mongolian made Namgyalma statue. Very artistic. Very beautiful. Usually her arms are \'all over the place\' but this one is so artistically placed and poised. Tsem Rinpoche
2 weeks ago
18th Century Mongolian made Namgyalma statue. Very artistic. Very beautiful. Usually her arms are 'all over the place' but this one is so artistically placed and poised. Tsem Rinpoche
My mother Ms. Dewa Nimbo came out with a new book. I am happy for her. Tsem Rinpoche
2 weeks ago
My mother Ms. Dewa Nimbo came out with a new book. I am happy for her. Tsem Rinpoche
Challenges makes you more responsible. Always remember that life without struggle is a life without success. Don\'t give up and learn not to quit.~-Rumi
2 weeks ago
Challenges makes you more responsible. Always remember that life without struggle is a life without success. Don't give up and learn not to quit.~-Rumi
May His Holiness Dalai Lama completely recover soon- https://bit.ly/2GgMO6c
2 weeks ago
May His Holiness Dalai Lama completely recover soon- https://bit.ly/2GgMO6c
How I made my beautiful Kyabje Zong Rinpoche statue in Nepal in 1987. I have many more photos for you to see here- 
 https://bit.ly/2Z2r0T5
2 weeks ago
How I made my beautiful Kyabje Zong Rinpoche statue in Nepal in 1987. I have many more photos for you to see here- https://bit.ly/2Z2r0T5
As of April 9, 2019 there are over 240k views on this blog post regarding the relationship between Bhutan\'s Highest lama Zhabdrung Rinpoche & Dorje Shugden.- https://bit.ly/2PrE6Ui
2 weeks ago
As of April 9, 2019 there are over 240k views on this blog post regarding the relationship between Bhutan's Highest lama Zhabdrung Rinpoche & Dorje Shugden.- https://bit.ly/2PrE6Ui
The handprint of His Holiness Kyabje Pabongka Dorje Chang Jetsun Dechen Nyingpo
2 weeks ago
The handprint of His Holiness Kyabje Pabongka Dorje Chang Jetsun Dechen Nyingpo
488 articles on animals, vegetarianism and environment and still growing. :) Enjoy the readings- https://bit.ly/2Psp8h2
2 weeks ago
488 articles on animals, vegetarianism and environment and still growing. :) Enjoy the readings- https://bit.ly/2Psp8h2
Beautiful Angel Dorje Shugden chapels in Kathmandu- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PCaWhDHKyBA&feature=youtu.be

People love to visit & pray.
3 weeks ago
Beautiful Angel Dorje Shugden chapels in Kathmandu- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PCaWhDHKyBA&feature=youtu.be People love to visit & pray.
Stunning pieces-Tibetan spiritual art-Free download- https://bit.ly/2oxb4qU
3 weeks ago
Stunning pieces-Tibetan spiritual art-Free download- https://bit.ly/2oxb4qU
Kechara visits Shar Gaden Monastery in South India-  https://bit.ly/2VozDp4
3 weeks ago
Kechara visits Shar Gaden Monastery in South India- https://bit.ly/2VozDp4
Obeisance to Yamantaka the powerful practice that destroys our bind to samsara.
3 weeks ago
Obeisance to Yamantaka the powerful practice that destroys our bind to samsara.
I love this picture of their Holinesses. Trijang Rinpoche was known to be very humorous and always joked and made Ling Rinpoche laugh very hard. The two tutors got along very well and very harmonious always. This made their job together of educating H.H. Dalai Lama very smooth and successful. Tsem Rinpoche
3 weeks ago
I love this picture of their Holinesses. Trijang Rinpoche was known to be very humorous and always joked and made Ling Rinpoche laugh very hard. The two tutors got along very well and very harmonious always. This made their job together of educating H.H. Dalai Lama very smooth and successful. Tsem Rinpoche
(left to right)Dharma boy, Mumu boy and Oser girl. Super cute doggies of Tsem Rinpoche
3 weeks ago
(left to right)Dharma boy, Mumu boy and Oser girl. Super cute doggies of Tsem Rinpoche
You know you just want to kiss me reeeeeeeeal bad!!! ~Oser girl
3 weeks ago
You know you just want to kiss me reeeeeeeeal bad!!! ~Oser girl
Over 106k views! People really interested in this post: https://bit.ly/2Sczh6v
3 weeks ago
Over 106k views! People really interested in this post: https://bit.ly/2Sczh6v
This picture I found by accident on the internet recently. This exact photo was poster size and framed and was on Thubten Dhargye Ling\'s main altar in Los Angeles back in the 80\'s when I was there. It is beautiful picture of H.H. Dalai Lama in his youth with a light glow around his body as he meditates. I love this picture of His Holiness. Tsem Rinpoche Read more-  https://bit.ly/2FECC5S
3 weeks ago
This picture I found by accident on the internet recently. This exact photo was poster size and framed and was on Thubten Dhargye Ling's main altar in Los Angeles back in the 80's when I was there. It is beautiful picture of H.H. Dalai Lama in his youth with a light glow around his body as he meditates. I love this picture of His Holiness. Tsem Rinpoche Read more- https://bit.ly/2FECC5S
Starting on Vajra Yogini now. Practicing Vajra Yogini without initiation. Find out more- https://bit.ly/2JjTTXp
3 weeks ago
Starting on Vajra Yogini now. Practicing Vajra Yogini without initiation. Find out more- https://bit.ly/2JjTTXp
Beautiful new casing in Kechara for Vajra Yogini. Tsem Rinpoche
3 weeks ago
Beautiful new casing in Kechara for Vajra Yogini. Tsem Rinpoche
Thai tradition of Buddhism also reveres/respects/remembers their gurus and high monks just like in the Tibetan tradition. You can see here a high guru\'s statue housed beautifully with a canopy and enshrined in a altar inside a temple for people to pay homage to him. Also an act of collecting merits for the disciples. Tsem Rinpoche
3 weeks ago
Thai tradition of Buddhism also reveres/respects/remembers their gurus and high monks just like in the Tibetan tradition. You can see here a high guru's statue housed beautifully with a canopy and enshrined in a altar inside a temple for people to pay homage to him. Also an act of collecting merits for the disciples. Tsem Rinpoche
Offering sustenance on our shrine is a sign of appreciation spiritually
3 weeks ago
Offering sustenance on our shrine is a sign of appreciation spiritually
Beautiful piece of African Dogan style art you can print out large & frame for your home- https://bit.ly/2Nt3FHz
3 weeks ago
Beautiful piece of African Dogan style art you can print out large & frame for your home- https://bit.ly/2Nt3FHz
I hope you\'ll be blessed by this practice of Lady Ucchusma- 
https://bit.ly/2U5Arm9
3 weeks ago
I hope you'll be blessed by this practice of Lady Ucchusma- https://bit.ly/2U5Arm9
Beautiful painting of Nechung Pehar Gyalpo & Dorje Shugden together. Masterpiece. More free downloads: https://bit.ly/2oxb4qU
4 weeks ago
Beautiful painting of Nechung Pehar Gyalpo & Dorje Shugden together. Masterpiece. More free downloads: https://bit.ly/2oxb4qU
Beautiful painting of Nechung Dorje Drakden & Dorje Shugden together. Masterpiece. More free downloads: https://bit.ly/2oxb4qU
4 weeks ago
Beautiful painting of Nechung Dorje Drakden & Dorje Shugden together. Masterpiece. More free downloads: https://bit.ly/2oxb4qU
Tsem Rinpoche’s moving experience with Lama Zopa in Kopan (1987)- https://bit.ly/2YyE42m
4 weeks ago
Tsem Rinpoche’s moving experience with Lama Zopa in Kopan (1987)- https://bit.ly/2YyE42m
Massive 2,600 year old Buddhist Monastery-Afghanistan- read more- https://bit.ly/2HTM48q
4 weeks ago
Massive 2,600 year old Buddhist Monastery-Afghanistan- read more- https://bit.ly/2HTM48q
A good person is made by the intensity of his adversity~Tsem Rinpoche
4 weeks ago
A good person is made by the intensity of his adversity~Tsem Rinpoche
BREAKING NEWS- Dharamsala MP Tenpa Yarphel says to make peace with Dorje Shugden people now!~ 
 https://bit.ly/2CESoxf
4 weeks ago
BREAKING NEWS- Dharamsala MP Tenpa Yarphel says to make peace with Dorje Shugden people now!~ https://bit.ly/2CESoxf
How the incomparable yet down to earth Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen changed my life forever- https://bit.ly/2VJjCtk

Photo: His Eminence Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen and Tsem Rinpoche
4 weeks ago
How the incomparable yet down to earth Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen changed my life forever- https://bit.ly/2VJjCtk Photo: His Eminence Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen and Tsem Rinpoche
Joanne Kam and Justin Ripley in Kechara doing some cooking..
4 weeks ago
Joanne Kam and Justin Ripley in Kechara doing some cooking..
You have to see this spectacular outdoor Amitabah statue in Vietnam. So sacred and majestic.~ https://bit.ly/2Ed0s9n
4 weeks ago
You have to see this spectacular outdoor Amitabah statue in Vietnam. So sacred and majestic.~ https://bit.ly/2Ed0s9n
Everyday offerings of fresh cooked food and drinks are offered to awakened world peace protector Dorje Shugden on my shrine. It is my way to thank Him for all the help He has given to so many people throughout the decades I\'ve introduced Him to. It is my way to include Him as my family and a feeling of closeness and gratitude I have for Him. He\'s a revered family member who happens to be enlightened and also my close friend. Tsem Rinpoche (Food offering prayer~ https://bit.ly/1VkYXJa)
1 month ago
Everyday offerings of fresh cooked food and drinks are offered to awakened world peace protector Dorje Shugden on my shrine. It is my way to thank Him for all the help He has given to so many people throughout the decades I've introduced Him to. It is my way to include Him as my family and a feeling of closeness and gratitude I have for Him. He's a revered family member who happens to be enlightened and also my close friend. Tsem Rinpoche (Food offering prayer~ https://bit.ly/1VkYXJa)
Read about this special Goddess Lok Yeay Mao of Cambodia. I came across her picture and found her very unique and blogged about it. Do enjoy the reading- https://bit.ly/2HR3vqi
1 month ago
Read about this special Goddess Lok Yeay Mao of Cambodia. I came across her picture and found her very unique and blogged about it. Do enjoy the reading- https://bit.ly/2HR3vqi
March 18, 2019-Oser is very photogenic as usual.
1 month ago
March 18, 2019-Oser is very photogenic as usual.
Click on "View All Photos" above to view more images

Videos On The Go

Please click on the images to watch video
  • Beautiful Monastery in Hong Kong
    2 weeks ago
    Beautiful Monastery in Hong Kong
  • This dog thanks his hero in such a touching way. Tsem Rinpoche
    2 weeks ago
    This dog thanks his hero in such a touching way. Tsem Rinpoche
  • Join Tsem Rinpoche in prayer for H.H. Dalai Lama’s long life~ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYy7JcveikU&feature=youtu.be
    2 weeks ago
    Join Tsem Rinpoche in prayer for H.H. Dalai Lama’s long life~ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYy7JcveikU&feature=youtu.be
  • These people going on pilgrimage to a holy mountain and prostrating out of devotion and for pilgrimage in Tibet. Such determination for spiritual practice. Tsem Rinpoche
    2 weeks ago
    These people going on pilgrimage to a holy mountain and prostrating out of devotion and for pilgrimage in Tibet. Such determination for spiritual practice. Tsem Rinpoche
  • Beautiful new casing in Kechara for Vajra Yogini. Tsem Rinpoche
    3 weeks ago
    Beautiful new casing in Kechara for Vajra Yogini. Tsem Rinpoche
  • Get ready to laugh real hard. This is Kechara’s version of “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane!” We have some real talents in this video clip.
    3 weeks ago
    Get ready to laugh real hard. This is Kechara’s version of “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane!” We have some real talents in this video clip.
  • Recitation of Dorje Dermo‘s mantra or the Dharani of Glorious Vajra Claws. This powerful mantra is meant to destroy all obstacles that come in our way. Beneficial to play this mantra in our environments.
    4 weeks ago
    Recitation of Dorje Dermo‘s mantra or the Dharani of Glorious Vajra Claws. This powerful mantra is meant to destroy all obstacles that come in our way. Beneficial to play this mantra in our environments.
  • Beautiful
    1 month ago
    Beautiful
    Beautiful sacred Severed Head Vajra Yogini from Tsem Rinpoche's personal shrine.
  • My little monster cute babies Dharma and Oser. Take a look and get a cute attack for the day! Tsem Rinpoche
    1 month ago
    My little monster cute babies Dharma and Oser. Take a look and get a cute attack for the day! Tsem Rinpoche
  • Plse watch this short video and see how all sentient beings are capable of tenderness and love. We should never hurt animals nor should we eat them. Tsem Rinpoche
    1 month ago
    Plse watch this short video and see how all sentient beings are capable of tenderness and love. We should never hurt animals nor should we eat them. Tsem Rinpoche
  • Cruelty of some people have no limits and it’s heartbreaking. Being kind cost nothing. Tsem Rinpoche
    2 months ago
    Cruelty of some people have no limits and it’s heartbreaking. Being kind cost nothing. Tsem Rinpoche
  • SUPER ADORABLE and must see
    3 months ago
    SUPER ADORABLE and must see
    Tsem Rinpoche's dog Oser girl enjoying her snack in her play pen.
  • Cute!
    4 months ago
    Cute!
    Oser girl loves the balcony so much. - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTcoWpKJm2c
  • Uncle Wong
    4 months ago
    Uncle Wong
    We were told by Uncle Wong he is very faithful toward Dorje Shugden. Dorje Shugden has extended help to him on several occasions and now Uncle Wong comes daily to make incense offerings to Dorje Shugden. He is grateful towards the help he was given.
  • Tsem Rinpoche’s Schnauzer Dharma boy fights Robot sphere from Arkonide!
    4 months ago
    Tsem Rinpoche’s Schnauzer Dharma boy fights Robot sphere from Arkonide!
  • Cute baby owl found and rescued
    4 months ago
    Cute baby owl found and rescued
    We rescued a lost baby owl in Kechara Forest Retreat.
  • Nice cups from Kechara!!
    4 months ago
    Nice cups from Kechara!!
    Dorje Shugden people's lives matter!
  • Enjoy a peaceful morning at Kechara Forest Retreat
    4 months ago
    Enjoy a peaceful morning at Kechara Forest Retreat
    Chirping birds and other forest animals create a joyful melody at the Vajrayogini stupa in Kechara Forest Retreat (Bentong, Malaysia).
  • His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche makes offering of khata to Dorje Shugden.
    4 months ago
    His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche makes offering of khata to Dorje Shugden.
    Trijang Rinpoche never gave up his devotion to Dorje Shugden no matter how much Tibetan government in exile pressured him to give up. He stayed loyal inspiring so many of us.
  • Very rare video of His Holiness Panchen Rinpoche the 10th, the all knowing and compassionate one. I pay deep respects to this attained being who has taken many rebirths since the time of Lord Buddha to be of benefit to sentient beings tirelessly. Tsem Rinpoche
    4 months ago
    Very rare video of His Holiness Panchen Rinpoche the 10th, the all knowing and compassionate one. I pay deep respects to this attained being who has taken many rebirths since the time of Lord Buddha to be of benefit to sentient beings tirelessly. Tsem Rinpoche
  • This bigfoot researcher gives good reasonings on bigfoot. Interesting short video.
    4 months ago
    This bigfoot researcher gives good reasonings on bigfoot. Interesting short video.
  • His Holiness Kyabje Zong Rinpoche of Gaden Shartse Monastery was one of the teachers of Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. Here in this beautiful video is Geshe Kelsang Gyatso showing his centre to Kyabje Zong Rinpoche, then proceeding to sit down to receive teachings. For more information- https://bit.ly/2QNac1u
    4 months ago
    His Holiness Kyabje Zong Rinpoche of Gaden Shartse Monastery was one of the teachers of Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. Here in this beautiful video is Geshe Kelsang Gyatso showing his centre to Kyabje Zong Rinpoche, then proceeding to sit down to receive teachings. For more information- https://bit.ly/2QNac1u
  • Tsem Rinpoche’s dog, Oser girl always sits on Rinpoche’s chair. When Rinpoche’s other dog, Dharma tries to get into the chair, he is chased away. Oser is the boss. She is possessive. Cute.
    5 months ago
    Tsem Rinpoche’s dog, Oser girl always sits on Rinpoche’s chair. When Rinpoche’s other dog, Dharma tries to get into the chair, he is chased away. Oser is the boss. She is possessive. Cute.
  • Lama Yeshe talks about how to practice at the beginning and at the end of each day during teachings given in London during the Lamas’ first European teaching tour in 1975. Lama Yeshe was a brilliant teacher and I wanted to share this with everyone so his teachings can reach more people. Tsem Rinpoche
    5 months ago
    Lama Yeshe talks about how to practice at the beginning and at the end of each day during teachings given in London during the Lamas’ first European teaching tour in 1975. Lama Yeshe was a brilliant teacher and I wanted to share this with everyone so his teachings can reach more people. Tsem Rinpoche
  • Our beautiful Dorje Shugden shop in the busiest part of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Many tourists visit our store and this area.
    5 months ago
    Our beautiful Dorje Shugden shop in the busiest part of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Many tourists visit our store and this area.
  • Living off the grid in Australia
    5 months ago
    Living off the grid in Australia
    A Jill Redwood is a jack of all trades, Jill built her own house on her property and lives entirely off the grid with no mains power or town water, mobile reception or television. Living on around $80 a week, Jill has over sixty animals to keep her company and an abundant garden that out serves as an organic supermarket right at her doorstep. Her main expenses are animal feed and the rates on her property. Watch this incredible three minute video and be inspired to live differently.
  • Kyabje Dagom Choktrul Rinpoche offering gold on a 350 year-old Dorje Shugden statue in his chapel in Lhasa. This is how Tibetans show homage and pay respect to a holy image. This chapel and statue of Dorje Shugden in Lhasa dedicated to Dorje Shugden was built by the Great 5th Dalai Lama. Tsem Rinpoche
    5 months ago
    Kyabje Dagom Choktrul Rinpoche offering gold on a 350 year-old Dorje Shugden statue in his chapel in Lhasa. This is how Tibetans show homage and pay respect to a holy image. This chapel and statue of Dorje Shugden in Lhasa dedicated to Dorje Shugden was built by the Great 5th Dalai Lama. Tsem Rinpoche
  • My sweet little Oser girl is so photogenic and adorable. Tsem Rinpoche
    5 months ago
    My sweet little Oser girl is so photogenic and adorable. Tsem Rinpoche
  • Heart Sutra sang by a monk for the modern crowd. Very interesting and beautiful. Tsem Rinpoche
    5 months ago
    Heart Sutra sang by a monk for the modern crowd. Very interesting and beautiful. Tsem Rinpoche
  • Submerging powerful mantra stones in water at Kechara Forest Retreat in Malaysia.
    5 months ago
    Submerging powerful mantra stones in water at Kechara Forest Retreat in Malaysia.
  • This topic is so hot in many circles right now.
    1 years ago
    This topic is so hot in many circles right now.
    This video is thought-provoking and very interesting. Watch! Thanks so much to our friends at LIVEKINDLY.
  • Chiropractic CHANGES LIFE for teenager with acute PAIN & DEAD LEG.
    1 years ago
    Chiropractic CHANGES LIFE for teenager with acute PAIN & DEAD LEG.
  • BEAUTIFUL PLACE IN NEW YORK STATE-AMAZING.
    1 years ago
    BEAUTIFUL PLACE IN NEW YORK STATE-AMAZING.
  • Leonardo DiCaprio takes on the meat Industry with real action.
    1 years ago
    Leonardo DiCaprio takes on the meat Industry with real action.
  • Do psychic mediums have messages from beyond?
    1 years ago
    Do psychic mediums have messages from beyond?
  • Lovely gift for my 52nd Birthday. Tsem Rinpoche
    2 yearss ago
    Lovely gift for my 52nd Birthday. Tsem Rinpoche
  • This 59-year-old chimpanzee was refusing food and ready to die until...
    2 yearss ago
    This 59-year-old chimpanzee was refusing food and ready to die until...
    she received “one last visit from an old friend” 💔💔
  • Bigfoot sighted again and made it to the news.
    2 yearss ago
    Bigfoot sighted again and made it to the news.
  • Casper is such a cute and adorable. I like him.
    2 yearss ago
    Casper is such a cute and adorable. I like him.
  • Dorje Shugden Monastery Amarbayasgalant  Mongolia's Ancient Hidden Gem
    2 yearss ago
    Dorje Shugden Monastery Amarbayasgalant Mongolia's Ancient Hidden Gem
  • Don't you love Hamburgers? See how 'delicious' it is here!
    2 yearss ago
    Don't you love Hamburgers? See how 'delicious' it is here!
  • Such a beautiful and powerful message from a person who knows the meaning of life. Tsem Rinpoche
    2 yearss ago
    Such a beautiful and powerful message from a person who knows the meaning of life. Tsem Rinpoche
  • What the meat industry figured out is that you don't need healthy animals to make a profit.
    2 yearss ago
    What the meat industry figured out is that you don't need healthy animals to make a profit.
    Sick animals are more profitable... farms calculate how close to death they can keep animals without killing them. That's the business model. How quickly they can be made to grow, how tightly they can be packed, how much or how little can they eat, how sick they can get without dying... We live in a world in which it's conventional to treat an animal like a block of wood. ~ Jonathan Safran Foer
  • This video went viral and it's a must watch!!
    2 yearss ago
    This video went viral and it's a must watch!!
  • SEE HOW THIS ANIMAL SERIAL KILLER HAS NO ISSUE BLUDGEONING THIS DEFENSELESS BEING.
    2 yearss ago
    SEE HOW THIS ANIMAL SERIAL KILLER HAS NO ISSUE BLUDGEONING THIS DEFENSELESS BEING.
    This happens daily in slaughterhouse so you can get your pork and Bak ku teh. Stop eating meat.

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CHAT PICTURES

KSK Penang Team visited a dialysis patient to deliver dry food provisions for his family. He has a kidney transplant when he was 12 years old and for the past years is undergoing dialysis three times a week and this has put a financial strain to him. We will try to assist him in anyway we can. - Vivian @ Kechara Soup Kitchen
7 hours ago
KSK Penang Team visited a dialysis patient to deliver dry food provisions for his family. He has a kidney transplant when he was 12 years old and for the past years is undergoing dialysis three times a week and this has put a financial strain to him. We will try to assist him in anyway we can. - Vivian @ Kechara Soup Kitchen
One day, we received a humble wish list from this poor family, an elderly mother who takes care of her grown up son with special needs. ‘It’s quite uneasy to use toilet without a proper door but I do not have enough money to fix it,’ said the mother. Without a second thought, our kindest sponsor, La Hong Eu has decided to make meaningful sponsorship to this case. Big thanks to Bernard Ting and Vickneshwaran for helping this family to replace the broken one with a brand new folding door. Together we are the reason that someone has a sweet smile on her face. #Kechara #foodbank #care - Vivian @ Kechara Soup Kitchen
yesterday
One day, we received a humble wish list from this poor family, an elderly mother who takes care of her grown up son with special needs. ‘It’s quite uneasy to use toilet without a proper door but I do not have enough money to fix it,’ said the mother. Without a second thought, our kindest sponsor, La Hong Eu has decided to make meaningful sponsorship to this case. Big thanks to Bernard Ting and Vickneshwaran for helping this family to replace the broken one with a brand new folding door. Together we are the reason that someone has a sweet smile on her face. #Kechara #foodbank #care - Vivian @ Kechara Soup Kitchen
Laying the rescued food down on the table would mean we will minimise chance of wastage from another level when our recipients will have the privilege to choose what they really need and want. - Vivian @ Kechara Soup Kitchen
2 days ago
Laying the rescued food down on the table would mean we will minimise chance of wastage from another level when our recipients will have the privilege to choose what they really need and want. - Vivian @ Kechara Soup Kitchen
Have you ever done beading? Join us for a blessed Saturday in Kechara Forest Retreat! http://bit.ly/2IMh5eN - shared by Pastor Antoinette
3 days ago
Have you ever done beading? Join us for a blessed Saturday in Kechara Forest Retreat! http://bit.ly/2IMh5eN - shared by Pastor Antoinette
What do you do on Saturday mornings? Join us for a meaningful time and be blessed by the Buddhas during the Spiritual Saturday at Kechara Forest Retreat! - shared by Pastor Antoinette
3 days ago
What do you do on Saturday mornings? Join us for a meaningful time and be blessed by the Buddhas during the Spiritual Saturday at Kechara Forest Retreat! - shared by Pastor Antoinette
With Dorje Shugden in your car, bus, bike, boat or lorry, you will be protected and blessed. - shared by Pastor Antoinette
3 days ago
With Dorje Shugden in your car, bus, bike, boat or lorry, you will be protected and blessed. - shared by Pastor Antoinette
Recently in Kechara Forest Retreat, this bus was blessed and is now protected by the Three Jewels. - shared by Pastor Antoinette
3 days ago
Recently in Kechara Forest Retreat, this bus was blessed and is now protected by the Three Jewels. - shared by Pastor Antoinette
Volunteers do not necessarily have the time, they just have the heart. In order to send the foodpack to our client in johor bahru area, we need a team that are always ready . Luckily, we have a group of wonderful volunteers that are commited to serve our community. - Vivian @ Kechara Soup Kitchen
4 days ago
Volunteers do not necessarily have the time, they just have the heart. In order to send the foodpack to our client in johor bahru area, we need a team that are always ready . Luckily, we have a group of wonderful volunteers that are commited to serve our community. - Vivian @ Kechara Soup Kitchen
Children paint their own mask for Halloween day. Lin Mun KSDS
4 days ago
Children paint their own mask for Halloween day. Lin Mun KSDS
Parents and students did a group discussion together on the Bully topic  Lin Mun KSDS
4 days ago
Parents and students did a group discussion together on the Bully topic Lin Mun KSDS
A talk on Bully by Peggy. A very informative sharing for students and parents. Lin Mun KSDS
4 days ago
A talk on Bully by Peggy. A very informative sharing for students and parents. Lin Mun KSDS
Great to start kids with dharma knowledge from young. Lin Mun KSDS
4 days ago
Great to start kids with dharma knowledge from young. Lin Mun KSDS
Teacher Victoria guided the students to do prayer in the dharma class. Lin Mun KSDS
4 days ago
Teacher Victoria guided the students to do prayer in the dharma class. Lin Mun KSDS
Creative horror drawing created by Teacher Kien. Alice, KSDS
5 days ago
Creative horror drawing created by Teacher Kien. Alice, KSDS
Teacher Asyley led the kids to participate animal liberation. Alice, KSDS
5 days ago
Teacher Asyley led the kids to participate animal liberation. Alice, KSDS
Healthy Meals for lunch sponsored by Mr Ravi & friends! We thank you for your unending support to #kecharasoupkitchen in our plight in serving the #homeless. Would you like to sponsor lunch for our street friends? To find out more, checkout our website for more details :) Vivian @ Kechara Soup Kitchen
5 days ago
Healthy Meals for lunch sponsored by Mr Ravi & friends! We thank you for your unending support to #kecharasoupkitchen in our plight in serving the #homeless. Would you like to sponsor lunch for our street friends? To find out more, checkout our website for more details :) Vivian @ Kechara Soup Kitchen
7 days ago
1 week ago
Bernard was briefing the volunteers on the details before they headed out last Saturday to PPR Kota Damansara. #kechara #foodbank #urbanpoor - Vivian @ Kechara Soup Kitchen
1 week ago
Bernard was briefing the volunteers on the details before they headed out last Saturday to PPR Kota Damansara. #kechara #foodbank #urbanpoor - Vivian @ Kechara Soup Kitchen
Seen here are team leaders giving their final briefing to the respective volunteers before they head out last night. Thank you very much to all the volunteers who turned up. - Vivian @ Kechara Soup Kitchen
2 weeks ago
Seen here are team leaders giving their final briefing to the respective volunteers before they head out last night. Thank you very much to all the volunteers who turned up. - Vivian @ Kechara Soup Kitchen
Thank you very much to James and Shereen for sponsoring oranges for tonight's distribution. - Vivian @ Kechara Soup Kitchen
2 weeks ago
Thank you very much to James and Shereen for sponsoring oranges for tonight's distribution. - Vivian @ Kechara Soup Kitchen
We received a lot wine bottles for recycling. It was packed nicely by the person. KEP-Serena
2 weeks ago
We received a lot wine bottles for recycling. It was packed nicely by the person. KEP-Serena
Today we are having recycling activity at Kechara Soup Kitchen. You can drop the recycled items here if you are nearby. KEP-Serena
2 weeks ago
Today we are having recycling activity at Kechara Soup Kitchen. You can drop the recycled items here if you are nearby. KEP-Serena
The generous support from Tesco Malaysia and AEON Retail Malaysia have made it possible for us to continue with this contribution to those less fortunate. Thank you very much! Here are photos taken during the distribution at government low cost flat. - Vivian @ Kechara Soup Kitchen
2 weeks ago
The generous support from Tesco Malaysia and AEON Retail Malaysia have made it possible for us to continue with this contribution to those less fortunate. Thank you very much! Here are photos taken during the distribution at government low cost flat. - Vivian @ Kechara Soup Kitchen
Thank you committed university students of University of Malaya for helping in our #foodrescue activities. These still good to eat and in date edible bread will be very useful for the needy students in universities! Thank you Komugi Malaysia for contributing and help reduce food wastage! #zerofoodwastage #kecharafoodbank #kecharasoupkitchen #endhunger - Vivian @ Kechara Soup Kitchen
2 weeks ago
Thank you committed university students of University of Malaya for helping in our #foodrescue activities. These still good to eat and in date edible bread will be very useful for the needy students in universities! Thank you Komugi Malaysia for contributing and help reduce food wastage! #zerofoodwastage #kecharafoodbank #kecharasoupkitchen #endhunger - Vivian @ Kechara Soup Kitchen
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