Zen Baggage

“There is so much baggage we burden ourselves with over the years that keeps us from seeing things the way they are. Some baggage we carry with us for a single thought, some for years and some for lifetimes. But there isn’t one piece that isn’t our own creation.

Layman Red Pine,
When your mind dwells nowhere
no corrupting thoughts arise
when you don’t cling to the world
suffering and joy have no place to grow
every thought you think
becomes the cause of life and death
understand impermanence
and find your ever-present body.”

In the spring of 2006, Bill Porter traveled through the heart of China, from Beijing to Hong Kong, on a pilgrimage to sites associated with the first six patriarchs of Zen. In Zen Baggage, Porter takes readers to places few Westerners have ever ventured, weaving together historical background, interviews, and translations of the earliest known records of Zen along with personal vignettes into a fascinating tale of discovery. 

“Porter’s account captures the transformations taking place at religious centers in China but also the legacy they have somehow managed to preserve. Porter brings wisdom and humor to every situation, whether visiting ancient caves containing the most complete collection of Buddhist texts ever uncovered, enduring a six-hour Buddhist ceremony, or meeting the abbess of China’s first Zen nunnery.”

(From Zen Baggage by Red Pine, published by Counterpoint 2009)

“This book was so helpful in getting a clearer idea of the geography and history of the first six patriarchs of Chan (Zen) and about the geography and history of Xu Yun. What a treasure to hear from living disciples of Xu Yun. There was so much very helpful Dharma teaching all throughout this book.” ~ D. C. of the book reading group for Zen Baggage