Bones of the Master: A Review

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bones

Bones of the Master is a biographical-autobiographical account of Crane’s travels with a monk who journeys back to Mongolia in the late 20th century. The monk’s exodus from China, nearly four decades earlier, during the 1960 Mao-ordered destruction of all things religious is but a mere fraction of the narrative. From there the story transitions to the U.S. where the monk has remade his life, keeping to hermetic life that Buddhism requires. The poetry written by or told to Crane by the monk is exquisite. Crane’s poetry–resembling his flippant, at time disrespectful tone/attitude–is not.  The monk yearns to return to Mongolia. He wants to find and rebury the the bones of his teacher, rebuild the shrine-temple that the monk believed had been destroyed by, and was desecrated,  the Red Guard, and visit the family he left behind. The story is a fascinating one that reveals that the ordinary people have not forgotten, and yearn for, the monk. He gives help, freely and selflessly to the point of death almost–medical and spiritual nourishment to a ravaged, impoverished people. This is not lost on the monk, nor are the ways of the Communist government. Yet, this is where the monk belongs–and is fulfilled.

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