Books

05.08.17

The Souls of China

Ian Johnson
From journalist Ian Johnson, a revelatory portrait of religion in China today—its history, the spiritual traditions of its Eastern and Western faiths, and the ways in which it is influencing China’s future.The Souls of China tells the story of one of the world’s great spiritual revivals. Following a century of violent anti-religious campaigns, China is now filled with new temples, churches, and mosques—as well as cults, sects, and politicians trying to harness religion for their own ends. Driving this explosion of faith is uncertainty over what it means to be Chinese and how to live an ethical life in a country that discarded traditional morality a century ago and is searching for new guideposts.Johnson first visited China in 1984. In the 1990s, he helped run a charity to rebuild Daoist temples, and in 2001 he won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the suppression of the Falun Gong spiritual movement. While researching this book, he lived for extended periods with underground church members, rural Daoists, and Buddhist pilgrims. Along the way, he learned esoteric meditation techniques, visited a nonagenarian Confucian sage, and befriended government propagandists as they fashioned a remarkable embrace of traditional values. He has distilled these experiences into a cycle of festivals, births, deaths, detentions, and struggle—a great awakening of faith that is shaping the soul of the world’s newest superpower. —Pantheon{chop}

Media

04.19.17

ChinaFile Presents: Ian Johnson on ‘The Souls of China’

Ian Johnson & Ian Buruma
On April 13, ChinaFile and The New York Review of Books co-hosted the launch of author Ian Johnson’s new book The Souls of China: The Return of Religion After Mao at the Asia Society’s New York headquarters. Johnson discussed the book with Ian...

Dalai Lama Says He Will Visit Trump in Move Bound to Anger China

Ben Blanchard
Reuters
"I think there are some problems to go to United States, so I will go to see the new president," the Dalai Lama told reporters, without elaborating...

China Says Dalai Lama-Obama Meeting Will Damage Bilateral Ties

Megha Rajagopalan
Reuters
The Tibetan, Buddhist spiritual leader is considered a dangerous separatist....

China Official Says Dalai Lama 'Making a Fool' of Buddhism

Ben Blanchard, Rupam Jain and Abhishek...
Reuters
Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader suggested he may not reincarnate, or reincarnate as something inappropriate.

Life in Purgatory: Buddhism Is Growing in China, But Remains in Legal Limbo

Siqi Yang
Time
There are an estimated 245 million Buddhists in China, but the religion faces severe legal and political hurdles.

What Is the I Ching?

Eliot Weinberger from New York Review of Books
The I Ching has served for thousands of years as a philosophical taxonomy of the universe, a guide to an ethical life, a manual for rulers, and an oracle of one’s personal future and the future of the state. It was an organizing principle or...

Why Are Tibetans Setting Themselves on Fire?

Tsering Woeser from New York Review of Books
February 27, 2009, was the third day of Losar, the Tibetan New Year. It was also the day that self-immolation came to Tibet. The authorities had just cancelled a Great Prayer Festival (Monlam) that was supposed to commemorate the victims of the...

China Stick to Right to Decide Reincarnation of Dalai Lama

Reuters
The Dalai Lama and China's officially atheist Communist Party have repeatedly tussled over who has final authority on the issue of reincarnation...

Chinese Relic Experts Claim 1,000-year-old Mummified Monk Was Stolen

Naomi Ng
CNN
Fujian officials found photos and historical records suggesting the statue belonged to a village temple.

China’s Way to Happiness

Ian Johnson
New York Review of Books
The return of collective religious traditions is part of Chinese people's search for meaning and stability...

Shaolin Temple Denies Abbot Sex Scandal

China Daily
The Henan Shaolin Temple denies Spanish newspaper allegations that abbot Shi Yongxin has a mistress in college in Beijing, a son in Germany and an overseas bank account.

Beijing’s Doomsday Problem

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Over the past ten days, China has been riveted by accounts of what authorities say are its very own doomsday cult: the church of Almighty God, which has prophesized that the world will end today. Authorities have said the group staged illegal...

News from the Dalai Lama

Jonathan Mirsky from New York Review of Books
“I told President Obama the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party are missing a part of the brain, the part that contains common sense,” the Dalai Lama said to me during our conversation in London in mid-June.But it can be put back in. I am hopeful...

Why the Dalai Lama is Hopeful

Jonathan Mirsky from New York Review of Books
“I told President Obama the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party are missing a part of the brain, the part that contains common sense,” the Dalai Lama said to me during our conversation in London Wednesday.But it can be put back in. I am hopeful...

Finding Zen and Book Contracts in Beijing

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
It’s a Sunday afternoon and Beijing’s biggest bookstore is preparing for a major event: the launch of a new book by a bestselling American author, who will be on hand for the occasion. Six-foot banners on the sidewalk out front announce the talk,...

China’s ‘Liberation’ of Tibet: Rules of the Game

Robert Barnett from New York Review of Books
Much of the talk about Vice President Joe Biden’s four-day visit to China last week centered on the man who hosted him: Xi Jinping, expected to become the country’s next president in 2012. Biden’s office has said that the principal purposes of his...

China’s Glorious New Past

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
I first went to Datong in 1984 and was immediately taken by this gritty city in China’s northern Shanxi Province. Along with half a dozen classmates from Peking University, I traveled eight hours on an overnight train, arriving in a place that felt...

Will There Be a ‘Duel of Dalai Lamas’?

Jonathan Mirsky from New York Review of Books
On March 10 the Fourteenth Dalai Lama made front-page news throughout the world by saying,As early as the 1960s, I have repeatedly stressed that Tibetans need a leader, elected freely by the Tibetan people, to whom I can devolve power. Now, we have...

Books

11.01.10

Heart of Buddha, Heart of China

James Carter
The Buddhist monk Tanxu surmounted extraordinary obstacles—poverty, wars, famine, and foreign occupation—to become one of the most prominent monks in China, founding numerous temples and schools, and attracting crowds of students and disciples wherever he went. Now, in Heart of Buddha, Heart of China, James Carter draws on untapped archival materials to provide a book that is part travelogue, part history, and part biography of this remarkable man. This revealing biography shows a Chinese man, neither an intellectual nor a peasant, trying to reconcile his desire for a bold and activist Chinese nationalism with his own belief in China's cultural and social traditions, especially Buddhism. As it follows Tanxu's extraordinary life, the book also illuminates the pivotal events in China's modern history, showing how one individual experienced the fall of China's last empire, its descent into occupation and civil war, and its eventual birth as modern nation. Indeed, Tanxu lived in a time of almost constant warfare—from the Sino-Japanese War of 1895, to the Boxer Uprising, the Russo-Japanese War, the Japanese occupation, and World War II. He and his followers were robbed by river pirates, and waylaid by bandits on the road. Caught in the struggle between nationalist and communist forces, Tanxu finally sought refuge in the British colony of Hong Kong. At the time of his death, at the age of 89, he was revered as "Master Tanxu," one of Hong Kong's leading religious figures. Capturing all this in a magnificent portrait, Carter gives first-person immediacy to one of the most turbulent periods in Chinese history.  —Oxford University Press

Passage to China

Amartya Sen from New York Review of Books
1.The intellectual links between China and India, stretching over two thousand years, have had far-reaching effects on the history of both countries, yet they are hardly remembered today. What little notice they get tends to come from writers...

On the Road

Pico Iyer from New York Review of Books
Books that “follow in the steps of” a well-known traveler are more and more ubiquitous these days, but many of them are slightly suspect. Following in the footsteps of some distinguished predecessor can look a little like a gesture of defeat,...