Heart of Buddha, Heart of China: The Life of Tanxu, a Twentieth Century Monk

Overview

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. In this book, James Carter draws on untapped archival materials to provide a book that is part travelogue, part history, and part biography of this remarkable man. Tanxu lived in a time of almost constant warfare—from the Sino-Japanese War of 1895, to the ...

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Heart of Buddha, Heart of China: The Life of Tanxu, a Twentieth Century Monk

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Overview

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. In this book, James Carter draws on untapped archival materials to provide a book that is part travelogue, part history, and part biography of this remarkable man. 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 87, he was revered as "Master Tanxu," one of Hong Kong's leading religious figures. Capturing all this in a magnificent biography, Carter gives first-person immediacy to one of the most turbulent periods in Chinese history.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Jay Carter's new book follows the life of one man as a way of opening a window into the lived history of twentieth-century China. Heart of Buddha, Heart of China: The Life of Tanxu, a Twentieth-Century Monk is less a traditional biography than a life of an emergent modern nation as told through the experiences of a single individual whose relationships embodied the history of that nation in flesh, bones, and blood... Carter's own travels took him from the Bronx (to meet with a Dharma heir disciple of the monk) through more than a dozen Chinese cities, taking Tanxu's own memoir and itinerary as guidebook and route-map. The resulting book is a beautifully written, historiographically self-reflexive, and humane account of the lived history of modern China." —New Books in East Asian Studies

"Heart of Buddha, Heart of China enriches our understanding of Chinese nationalism and brings the great events and issues of the day into immediate focus through the lens of an individual life. . . . teachers who may be considering offering a course on modern Chinese religion, or specifically Buddhism, will find Heart of Buddha, Heart of China a useful book with which to set the stage, as the thorough contextualization provides an accessible introduction both to the particularities of Chinese religious culture and to the challenges it faced in the twentieth century." —H-Net Reviews

"Heart of Buddha, Heart of China is a gracefully written and deeply humane book, which weaves together the life story of a protean individual and the tale of a nation undergoing profound transformations. This is one of those rare books that I'll look forward to assigning to students and will also encourage friends about to travel to China to read—especially if their itinerary takes them through one or more of the various cities in which Tanxu lived and worked." —Jeffrey Wasserstrom, author of China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know

"James Carter's imaginative new book is a journey within a journey: the monk Tanxu's, to find a place for Buddhism in the war-torn chaos of modern China; and the author's, to find the echoes of the past in China's present. Carter's candid and evocative treatment of Tanxu's life reveals as much about the passions that drive the historian's research as it does about religion in modern China." —Stephen R. Platt, Associate Professor of History, The University of Massachusetts at Amherst

"In this ingeniously structured book, James Carter uses the Buddhist monk Tanxu (1875-1963) as a guide to China's travails across one of the most turbulent periods in its history. Carter shows us how Tanxu's personal quests for enlightenment intersected with his knowledge of life amongst foreigners, his experiences in five separate wars, and his vision that the construction of temples offered China an opportunity for spiritual and national regeneration." —Jonathan Spence, author of The Search for Modern China

"[C]learly well researched . . . this book is written in language that is approachable, flows well, and remains focused on the life of Tanxu without deviating or becoming distracted by focusing on any sub-topic in any great detail." —Journal of Buddhist Ethics

"What makes the book a great read is the fact that Tanxu lived through some of the most dramatic and chaotic events of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century...." —Buddhadharma:The Practitioner's Quarterly

"This book is well informed and although its with a broad range of issues, it does so in a balanced manner." —Erik Hammerstrom, Journal of Buddhist Ethics

"Heart of Buddha, Heart of China is the first full-length study of Tanxu in English, but it is also more than that. The book is an engaging and detailed description of the political, cultural, and social milieu in which Tanxu lived...Carter is a wonderful storyteller...a welcomed addition to scholarship on modern Buddhism, Chinese Republican-era historiography, and Chinese religions."—Journal of Religion

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195398854
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 12/10/2010
  • Pages: 232
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

James Carter is Associate Professor of History at Saint Joseph's University, in Philadelphia. He is also past president of the Historical Society for 20th-Century China.

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Table of Contents

Prologue: The Present Past Chapter One: Not Far From Anywhere Chapter Two: Leaving Home Chapter Three: New Worlds Chapter Four: Family Chapter Five: Conditioned Arising Chapter Six: Ice and Fire Chapter Seven: Famine and Flight Chapter Eight: Qingdao Chapter Nine: Life During Wartime Chapter Ten: Forward to the Past Epilogue: The Past in the Present

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