History and cultural heritage
of the main monasteries of the Han
|by Christian Cochini, S.J.
MRI - Humanitas Publications Series
528 pp. ; Illustr. ; 23.5 cm
ISBN 978-99937-947-2-1 (hardcover)
ISBN 978-99937-947-1-4 (paperback)
The title of this book, Guide to Buddhist Temples of China, might suggest that it is but another addition to the rapidly accumulating array of guides for tourists in China, the sort of thing one might find in the travel section of a reasonably good bookstore. In fact, however, it is much more than that.
Written by a scholar and Catholic priest with long experience of living in China and a record of serious engagement with Chinese Buddhists, this unparalleled work will surely be received — by scholars of things Buddhist and Chinese, as well as by tourists — as an invaluable resource. I know of nothing quite like it, not even among the many surveys of Chinese Buddhist monasteries published in Chinese.
I have myself visited a number of the monasteries that Fr. Cochini has included
in his survey, some of them several times, and yet in nearly every case I have learned from this book something useful that I had not previously known.
What Fr. Cochini documents so well in this very thorough compilation is the
remarkably vital Buddhist dimension of the contemporary religious revival now underway in China. No serious scholar of this phenomenon, certainly no serious student of Buddhism in modern China, and no tourist intent on an intelligent encounter with Chinese Buddhism should undertake a visit to China without a copy of this excellent book in his or her possession.
Robert M. Gimello
The University of Notre Dame
College of Arts and Letters