We now call into session our latest fan club meeting for the wonderful author, Deng Ming-Dao. Wow, have I got a book to recommend to you.
I just finished Deng's Chronicles of Tao: The Secret Life of a Taoist Master. It is comprised of three novellas, The Wandering Taoist, Seven Bamboo Tablets of the Cloudy Satchel, and Gateway to a Vast World. It was one of those books I just didn't want to end. It taught me so much.
It follows Saihung, who, as a young boy, was recognized as having special gifts by a Taoist master and who was given to the monastery for training. The first novella explores how Saihung learned not only Taoist doctrine, but also meditation techniques and martial arts training, along with the everyday duties of a young monk serving his master. The second novella shows how he became more mature in Taoism, but was sent on a mission which threw him into the low places of China. The last novella followed him on his travels into the United States.
What I love about this book is that the main character is so believable, with his doubts and anger issues and desires on full display, while seeing how he learned about Taoism and tried, not always successfully, to incorporate Taoist principles into his everyday life. It gave me hope, and a sense that we all struggle with balancing our outer and inner lives.
I can't recommend this book highly enough. If you're interested in learning about Taoism, or just want to understand 20th century Chinese history or the treatment of Chinese immigrants in the United States, get this book. Fabulous.