The Search for Solitude: China’s Hermit Tradition is the title of a talk to be given by Bill Porter on Monday, January 22, at Humboldt State University, in Founder’s Hall, room 111, from 7-9:00 pm. There is no charge for this presentation.
From Bill: "The search for solitude has been at the core of Chinese civilization ever since it began 5,000 years ago. Spending time alone, usually in the mountains, has been an essential part of all three major spiritual traditions in China from their very beginning, and it continues to be so today. Bill Porter will give a slide presentation and talk about this tradition based on his book Road to Heaven: Encounters with Chinese Hermits, which has become a best-seller in China, where it has sold a quarter of a million copies in its Chinese translation 空谷幽蘭."
Bill Porter, was born in Van Nuys, California on October 3, 1943 and grew up in Northern Idaho. After a tour of duty in the US Army 1964-67, he attended UC Santa Barbara and majored in Anthropology. In 1970, he entered graduate school at Columbia University and studied anthropology with a faculty that included Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict. While he was living in New York, he became interested in Buddhism, and in 1972 he left America and moved to a Buddhist monastery in Taiwan. After more than three years with the monks and nuns, he struck out on his own and supported himself by teaching English and later by working as a journalist at English-language radio stations in Taiwan and Hong Kong. During this time, he married a Chinese woman, with whom he has two children, and he began working on translations of Chinese poetry and Buddhist texts. In 1993, he returned to America so that his children could learn English, and he has lived ever since in Port Townsend, Washington. For the past twenty years, he has worked as an independent scholar. During this time, he has given talks at many of the major universities in the US, England and Germany on Chinese history, culture, poetry, and religion. His translations of texts dealing with these subjects have been honored with a number of awards, including two NEA translation fellowships, a PEN translation award, the inaugural Asian Literature Award of the American Literary Translators Association, and a Guggenheim Fellowship.