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Thread: Lives Apart: Hermits, Recluses, Mystics and Saints

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    Administrator Cara's Avatar
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    Default Lives Apart: Hermits, Recluses, Mystics and Saints

    Recently, I’ve come across a few short films and blogs exploring the choice made by some - both in ancient and modern times - to live their lives apart.

    Sometimes the choice is to live apart for years, sometimes the intention is never to return to society, and sometimes the retreat is a shorter break. Often times it seems the choice is made by people looking for silence. For a few, there is the need to get away from a sense of persecution. Some are searching for or find mystical experiences. Some seek space for contemplation.

    I hope this thread will gather together representations about these remarkable people who choose to live their lives apart.

    ~~~

    This is a film that documents a group of Norwegian artists travelling to the place that the philosopher Wittgenstein chose as his retreat. Along the way, some of the ideas of Wittgenstein are shared and when they arrive, they read some of his writings.



    Quote Over 100 years ago, philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein went to the fjords of Norway to escape the scholarly world of Cambridge. His former teacher Bertrand Russell wrote, “I said it would be lonely, and he said he prostituted his mind talking to intelligent people.”

    Not content with simply moving to the isolation of rural Norway- at the end of the Sognefjord (the deepest and second longest fjord)- Wittgenstein built his hut across the lake and halfway up a mountain from the nearest town (Skjolden). Measuring just 7 by 8 meters, the small cabin dubbed “Little Austria” (his native country) became his home on and off throughout his life (his longest stay here was 13 months).

    Today all that remains of his hut are its stone foundation and a very faint hikers trail up the mountain, though some Norwegians are trying to change this. Artists Marianne Bredesen, Sebastian Makonnen Kjølaas and Siri Hjorth (in collaborations with the Wittgenstein Society in Skjolden and funded by Public Art Norway) threw an all-expenses-paid vacation to bring fellow Oslo residents to the ruin. Inspired by Wittgenstein’s argument that “philosophical problems arise when language goes on holiday”, they are calling their art holiday “Wittgenstein on Vacation”. For part one, they entertained their guests with a weekend of lectures, meals and a Wittgenstein interpretation at the site of his cabin. We captured some of the show on our own journey to this disappearing piece of history.
    *I have loved the stars too dearly to be fearful of the night*

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    Default Re: Lives Apart: Hermits, Recluses, Mystics and Saints

    Here is a short video of Alan Watts (philosopher) speaking about being a hermit specifically and more generally about how modern republics / democratic societies struggle to allow this type of “other”.



    Quote Alan Wilson Watts (6 January 1915 – 16 November 1973) was a British-born philosopher, writer, and speaker, best known as an interpreter and populariser of Eastern philosophy for a Western audience. Born in Chislehurst, he moved to the United States in 1938 and began Zen training in New York. Pursuing a career, he attended Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, where he received a master's degree in theology. Watts became an Episcopal priest then left the ministry in 1950 and moved to California, where he joined the faculty of the American Academy of Asian Studies.
    *I have loved the stars too dearly to be fearful of the night*

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    Default Re: Lives Apart: Hermits, Recluses, Mystics and Saints

    Searcher. thanks for the video. a visually cleansing landscape for sure. as a person who spends large quantities of time by myself, i feel there is no solution or way to go but the way you find for yourself. One could trace his steps, set to write, and never write anything.

    I recently had a night in town , I set out to write in what turned out to be the noisiest restaurant , childrens party etc screaming and so on. I set to work on my stage show. The noise and mayhem started to disappear and I did some of my best writing in a while. All became calm inside It was as if I was alone. Which I was. There is no formula, but thru self-discovery

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    Default Re: Lives Apart: Hermits, Recluses, Mystics and Saints

    Quote Posted by thepainterdoug (here)
    Searcher. thanks for the video. a visually cleansing landscape for sure. as a person who spends large quantities of time by myself, i feel there is no solution or way to go but the way you find for yourself. One could trace his steps, set to write, and never write anything.

    I recently had a night in town , I set out to write in what turned out to be the noisiest restaurant , childrens party etc screaming and so on. I set to work on my stage show. The noise and mayhem started to disappear and I did some of my best writing in a while. All became calm inside It was as if I was alone. Which I was. There is no formula, but thru self-discovery
    Thank you thepainterDoug.

    I agree, choosing to be aside or outside of the group is not THE right choice, it’s just A choice.

    While I’ve been living in Dubai I have spent more hours alone and outside of society here than I could ever have imagined. It has been both a blessing and a curse.

    I have been in the depths of despair but also found some moments of extraordinary clarity. I have doubted the world and myself and have found myself again in a new way. I’ve felt unspeakable despair and harrowing desolation; yet I’ve also found self-forgiveness and a tender, new ”faith”.

    Would I recommend it? No. And yes. It’s certainly extraordinary.
    *I have loved the stars too dearly to be fearful of the night*

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    Default Re: Lives Apart: Hermits, Recluses, Mystics and Saints

    Searcher

    a most informative and inspiring report. You are brave to take on all not in your comfort zone. i don't like pain or needless suffering. but i have found sometimes its the right medicine and has forced growthI was so hungering for. I believe I have reached a point where I can get my work done in silence or in the middle of the stock exchange! i have found that inside me. i will share some of my music for my show "Hypnotta" about disclosure, sometime soon. blessings/ thepainterandcomposerDoug lol

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    Default Re: Lives Apart: Hermits, Recluses, Mystics and Saints

    Anchorites (female : anchoress) were the most extreme form of hermit during the middle ages - where the person was bricked into his or her enclosure ! A decision not to taken too lightly for if you changed your mind and left your enclosure the authorities could force you back in!
    http://hermits.ex.ac.uk/index/anchorites

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    Default Re: Lives Apart: Hermits, Recluses, Mystics and Saints

    Quote Posted by leavesoftrees (here)
    Anchorites (female : anchoress) were the most extreme form of hermit during the middle ages - where the person was bricked into his or her enclosure ! A decision not to taken too lightly for if you changed your mind and left your enclosure the authorities could force you back in!
    http://hermits.ex.ac.uk/index/anchorites
    My goodness this seems a very extreme choice given our vantage point of today. This picture from your link is interesting:


    I wonder if this was one of the activities that was translated into the Rapunzel story? Or perhaps the story inspired this kind of choice?
    *I have loved the stars too dearly to be fearful of the night*

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    Default Re: Lives Apart: Hermits, Recluses, Mystics and Saints

    Here is another journey for the senses: a film exploring lives apart. The film "Happy People: A Year in the Taiga" by Werner Herzog explores the world of a remote village in Siberia's Taiga (boreal forest) and the even more remote life of a forester/trapper who lives through the winter alone with only his dog. There are extremes of the environment and extremes of isolation.



    This is a captivating film which I first saw on Netflix (not sure if it is there any longer) and I see it on Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/Happy-People-.../dp/B00CFDAOPG).

    I have also found it posted on the Internet Archive:
    https://archive.org/details/HappyPeopleAYearInTheTaiga

    Quote With Happy People: A Year in the Taiga, Werner Herzog takes viewers on yet another unforgettable journey into remote and extreme natural landscapes. The acclaimed filmmaker presents this visually stunning documentary about the people living in the heart of the Siberian Taiga. Deep in the wilderness, far away from civilization, 300 people inhabit the small village of Bakhtia at the river Yenisei. There are only two ways to reach this outpost: by helicopter or boat. There‘s no telephone, running water or medical aid. The locals, whose daily routines have barely changed over the last centuries, live according to their own values and cultural traditions. With insightful commentary written and narrated by Herzog, Happy People: A Year in the Taiga follows one of the Siberian trappers through all four seasons of the year to tell the story of a culture virtually untouched by modernity.
    *I have loved the stars too dearly to be fearful of the night*

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    Default Re: Lives Apart: Hermits, Recluses, Mystics and Saints

    Thoureau (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_David_Thoreau) is sometimes associated with the idea of living a simple life, away from distractions.

    Here is a short excerpt from his book “Walden”. The footage is a bit grainy and pixelated but somehow it adds to the charm.



    According to one of the video comments, this is Robert J. Lurtsema reading this on WGBH Radio.
    *I have loved the stars too dearly to be fearful of the night*

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    Default Re: Lives Apart: Hermits, Recluses, Mystics and Saints

    From a homeless hermit to a University Lecturer

    This is a remarkable story.

    Gregory Smith had a history of trauma. His alcoholic father was extremely violent and at the age of 10, his mother sent him to an orphanage where the violence escalated.

    He would spend the next 20 years battling anger, addiction and one crisis after another: in one short period between 1979 and 1980 his marriage collapsed, he burnt down his home, spent time at a psychiatric hospital, and had a near-fatal car crash.

    He didn't purposefully end up in the forest. He ended up there after becoming homeless.

    The forest for Gregory became a haven, a place of peace.


    The rainforest hermit who stepped out of the wild | Australian Story
    Unity within the diversity

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    Default Re: Lives Apart: Hermits, Recluses, Mystics and Saints

    Here is my favorite documentary. It's about Zen hermit monks in China. Maybe sounds corny, but I watched it years ago and it was somewhat of a catalyst for me to begin meditating which changed my life since. Thank God I found it.
    Just as every cop is a criminal
    And all the sinners saints

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    Default Re: Lives Apart: Hermits, Recluses, Mystics and Saints


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    Default Re: Lives Apart: Hermits, Recluses, Mystics and Saints

    Some younger folk in China are seeking quiet lives and to live with fewer modern conveniences.

    Lovely sounds of birds thought out this video!


    Quote Why some Chinese millennials are taking up the hermit’s life in the mountains

    Over the past several decades, China has transformed from a largely poor and rural farming nation to a world power with massive economic heft and a rapidly growing urban middle class. While access to the global economy offers the emerging generation of young adults unprecedented access to material goods and a wide range of lifestyles, consumerism has come at a cost for some Chinese millennials who are seeking something beyond money. With a contemplative style that evokes its subject, the Beijing-based filmmaker Ellen Xu’s Summoning the Recluse introduces several young Chinese urbanites who are embarking on spiritual quests. Through a hermit’s lifestyle that draws on Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian traditions – either for a brief respite from modern life, or for the long haul – they focus on studying religion, meditation and connecting with nature, seeking meaning in what they describe as an ‘ancient way of life’.

    Producer: Ellen Xu

    Director of Photography: Max Duncan
    ~~~

    Quote Sharing a Mountain Hut with a Cloud

    A lonely hut on the mountain-peak towering above a thousand others;
    One half is occupied by an old monk and the other by a cloud:
    Last night it was stormy and the cloud was blown away;
    After all a cloud could not equal the old man's quiet way.
    From: Kuei-tsung Chih-chih, a monk who lived in a humble hut on Lu-shan (盧山 Rozan)
    (Essays in Zen Buddhism – Second Series 352)
    http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/zen/poems.htm
    Last edited by Cara; 2nd August 2019 at 12:47.
    *I have loved the stars too dearly to be fearful of the night*

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