Dhiren reviews Veena’s latest book about her thrilling journeys of discovery on Song Mountain in China.
Memoir, travelogue, spiritual diary: A Mountain in China, Veena’s third book in her trilogy, has just been published and seems to defy categories. Perhaps it’s a genre all on its own; certainly I found it as hard to pin down as it is to put down.
Just why this book will be an especially fascinating read for sannyasins and Osho-lovers is already apparent in the first few chapters, as Veena takes us from an ‘aha’ moment in her Somerset cottage, where she first heard of Song Mountain, Henan Province, during a BBC documentary, through her research and preparations and on to the first of many stays in a small village on the mountain.
This village is close to the cave where Bodhidharma sat for nine years, and Veena’s excitement springs off the pages as she gets closer to unravelling some of the mystery associated with this lion of a man, the founder of Zen. Lightly dusted with quotes from various sources, (the ones from Lao Tzu seem particularly bright) and with some stunning photos woven into the text, this book is also a delight to hold and, if you are like me, it will captivate you for hours at a time.
It is Osho’s guidance and insights which underpin this account, and for those of us who have heard him over the years speaking so much about Zen, it is a revelation and at times a hilarious and touching account of the author’s own path; there is a Zen saying which Veena quotes in her introduction that ”the only Zen one finds at the top of a mountain is the Zen within oneself.”
And so we read how she shared the turmoil and joy of daily life in the village and how she met with the Kung Fu and Qi Gong masters whose lineage stretches far back into Chinese history. She has captured in these pages a sense of an old China, a sacred place of pilgrimage, and tells of her heartbreak as modern China inevitably clashes with its ancient heritage.
She shares intimate accounts of her own setbacks and of the twists and turns of her deepening path to the ‘Zen within oneself’, mirrored in her beautiful descriptions of the mountain’s stunning landscape and winding pathways. Her research is impeccable, and there is a wealth of intriguing information in its pages – although A Mountain in China is not a scholarly effort – and her flowing, almost conversational style allows us to share her story much as we might sitting with her over a cup of tea. Just how intriguing some of her insights and discoveries are… well, prepare to be gob-smacked!
Veena’s first book about the overland trail to India, A Vanished Road has just been redesigned and republished, as has the second volume in her trilogy, Glimpses of my Master. It tells of the hardships and adventures of that route and how, thinking she was on her way to Japan, she ended up sitting at the feet of Osho in Bombay. More than forty years later, at the courageous age of 64, the journey continues in A Mountain in China, this delightful and inspiring story of her inner and outer travels and her life in a remote and sacred part of China.
It is a unique story of a love affair with a mountain and a glimpse into the inner world of a seeker who has been on the path of Zen for more than forty years.
My advice? Just go ahead and order several extra copies – your friends and family will thank you for your generous birthday presents for years to come!
Links to buy the book from: 3books.co.uk
Veena met Osho in Mumbai in 1971 and took sannyas shortly thereafter. At his request she opened the Nirvana Meditation Centre in London in 1972. During the years she spent with him she worked as an editor of his books, as a seamstress making his robes, hats and the costumes for photo sessions and doing PR in Rajneeshpuram, Oregon. She has written about Osho for many sannyas publications and also published a book about him. 3books.co.uk – amountaininchina8.com
Excerpt from this book on Osho News
A Discovery in Luoyang