In 1989 Bill Porter, who had become well-known as the American translator of Chinese Zen works, Red Pine, went to China to see if there was a living tradition of practioners of the ancient meditation and eremetical traditions he had been translating.
In the Zhongnan mountains near Xi-an he found that there were still dozens of people practicing in the ancient ways, leading very solitary and simple lives deep in the mountains, and he wrote a book about his experiences, called Road to Heaven.
This book was also translated into Chinese and became very popular, and when Bill returned to the same mountains in 2014 he was very well received. This film is a record of his meetings 25 years after his original encounters, mainly with newer disciples on the path.
The film, which consists mainly of conversations between Bill and the hermits, is itself very contemplative and supports well the theme of its main story. Being beautifully, calmly and simply shot and edited, it brings to life the enduring essence of the monastic life as it is currently lived by both Buddhism and Taoist, lay and monastic, and male and female practioners in contemporary China.
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