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In China, the tradition of living as a hermit has existed for 5,000 years and is one of the mysteries of its culture. In the age of the internet hermits still dwell in the mountain ranges south of Xi'an living life as it was thousands of years ago. Drawn to the hermetic life, the author spent three years in the depths of the Zhongnan Mountains visiting and staying with over 100 hermits. In their midst, high amongst the clouds he practiced with the hermits, achieved enlightenment and learned their secret traditions. Seated above the clouds he looked down on the mundane world below as he refined his spirit and reformed his soul in the experience of a different mode of existence.
As contemporary man busied himself with the creation of his own networks, and searched for knowledge, wealth and love, the author took the opposite route and sought out the hermits of legend. As we close the book, his efforts allow us, for a moment, to transcend the chaos of life, achieve detachment and an inner contemplation and turn and enter our own inner being.
Zhang Jianfeng was born in 1977 and is a peripatetic worker in the culture of the Zhongnan Mountains. In 2008 he founded the book series Seeking the Way and established the Zhongnan Thatched Hut—a center for the study of traditional Chinese culture. He has published In Search of the Hermits of Zhongnan.