- A conversation with Andy Ferguson, hosted by Nicholas Egan. Andy Ferguson graduated Phi Beta Kappa in Chinese studies from the University of Oregon in 1973. The same year he moved to Kyoto, and subsequently to Taipei, where he studied Japanese and Chinese respectively. He first entered and traveled in mainland China in 1978, before the economic reforms, and subsequently lived in Singapore and Hong Kong where he worked as the Manager for East Asia for a USA company. At that time he began locating and studying a wide variety of Chinese historic cultural sites, especially temples related to the Chinese Chan tradition.
He is the author of Tracking Bodhidharma: A Journey to the Heart of Chinese Culture, which offers a previously unheard perspective on the life of Zen’s most important religious leader, while simultaneously showing how that history is relevant to the rapidly developing super-power that is present-day China. He is also the author of Zen’s Chinese Heritage: The Masters and their Teachings, a book in which he translated the teachings of more than 150 ancient Chinese Zen masters. This book is widely used as a reference book in academic and religious culture circles. He has also produced a two hour video DVD about Chinese history and culture, designed for people who didn’t take two semesters of Chinese history in college but want to know about China in depth before they go there. He lectures frequently on Chinese culture to community groups in North America and is one of a few Americans who gives lectures in China to groups on topics of historical interest.
More recently Andy organized a company called “South Mountain China Tours” that offers unique itineraries and perspectives on East Asian Culture. The tours focus on art, history, flower culture, religious history, and other educational and cultural topics. Some of the tours visit and stay at famous Chinese religious monasteries and other places where participants learn about all aspects of Chinese Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism in situ. With his long-time friend and renowned translator Red Pine, Andy has photographed sites for virtually all the early Zen masters of the Chinese Chan tradition, from Bodhidharma down through many generations of teachers. He recently was the first American to attend the annual ceremony honoring Bodhidharma at his burial temple, Empty Form, in North China.
- South Mountain China Tours website: www.southmountaintours.com