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Existence: A Story


This is the story of existence, and it begins with a painting. 

Join David Hinton, our premier modern translator of the Chinese classics, as he stands before a single landscape painting—discovering there the wondrous story of existence, and as part of that story, the magical nature of consciousness. Hinton regards the painting, pondering its elusive message through his extensive knowledge of Chinese wisdom traditions: Ch'an (Zen) Buddhism, Taoism, painting, calligraphy, poetry. What he coaxes from the painting is nothing less than a revelation: the dynamic interweaving of mind and Cosmos, and the glorious dance of Absence and Presence that is the secret of that Cosmos.

                  — from the book jacket






Praise for Existence: A Story


In extraordinarily deft and patient hands, David Hinton delivers us into the unknowable. Using as his guide, the Chinese landscape painter, Shih Tao, and other sage poet-painter-wanderers, he takes us to the very brink of existence and consciousness,  beyond linguistic dualities of  past and future, propelled by the life force that drives through us, from one step to the next…. you can almost hear the footfalls of his thinking and Ch’an practice… until we find ourselves in the strange surroundings of empty mind and full heart,  and finally, equanimity. It is an uncanny journey, essential for all.


                        —Gretel Ehrlich



A pellucid gem of a book—I couldn’t put it down. Through the vision of a single, inexhaustible painting—whose depth opens onto the mysteries of meditation, calligraphy, poetry, and existence itself—Hinton gradually discloses for us the whole vast and fathomless landscape of Taoist and Ch'an (Zen) spirituality. At first we gaze wonder-struck into the many-mountained distance; soon we find ourselves immersed; and then we dissolve into the mist drifting up forested slopes.


                        —David Abram






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