Song Mountain, in Henan, China is the most of important of the five sacred mountains in China. It has a primordial magnificence which strikes deep into the being of those that climb it. When the great patriarch, Bodhidharma, arrived in China from India in about the seventh century, it was to this mountain that he came and it was in a cave on this mountain that he sat for nine years meditating on Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. In his meditations he somehow fused the essence of these three religions to create something new – Chan or Zen, as it is more commonly known. At the end of the nine years he came down to the Shaolin Temple at the foot of the mountain and introduced Zen, first to China and later to the world.
In January 2008, watching a BBC documentary called ‘Extreme Pilgrim’, which was filmed on Song Mountain, it was instantly clear to me that I had to go there.
My book, ‘A Mountain in China’, which will be published later this year, is about my journey to this mountain, life in the small village of Shi Li Pu where I lived, the people – from local farmers to Kungfu students to young English-speaking university graduates — that I met there and the deep spiritual connections with Zen, my path, and my Master, Osho.