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The Hermit

personperson Where is my mind?'Merica! Veteran
edited July 2012 in Buddhism Basics
The vocation of the hermit is often misunderstood. The hermit does not withdraw from the world because he feels rejected, because he can find nothing better to do than wander in the mountains, or because he is unable to assume his responsibilities. He decides to leave, a decision which may seem extreme, because he realizes that he cannot control his mind and solve the problem of happiness and suffering amidst the endless futile and distracting activities of ordinary life. He is not running away from the world but distances himself from it to put it into perspective and better understand how it functions. He does not flee his fellow men, but needs time to cultivate authentic love and compassion that will not be affected by ordinary concerns such as pleasure and displeasure, gain and loss, praise and blame. Like a musician who practices his scales or an athlete who exercises his body, he needs time, concentration, and constant practice to master the chaos of his mind and penetrate the meaning of life. Then he can put his wisdom to work to help others. His motto might be: “Transform yourself to better transform the world.”

The chaotic situations of ordinary life make it very difficult to progress in practice and develop inner strength. It is best to concentrate solely on training the mind for as long as it is necessary. The wounded animal hides in the forest to heal its wounds until it is fit to roam again as it pleases. Our wounds are those of selfishness, malice, attachment, and other mental poisons.

The hermit does not “rot in his cell,” as some have imagined. Those who have experienced what it is really like will tell you that one matures in one’s hermitage. For someone who remains in the freshness of mindfulness of the present moment, time does not take on the heaviness of days spent in distraction, but the lightness of a life fully savored. If the hermit loses interest in certain ordinary concerns, it is not because his existence has become insipid but because he recognizes, among all possible human activities, which ones will truly contribute to the happiness of self and others.

http://www.matthieuricard.org/en/index.php/blog/
riverflowkarmabluesInc88Lee82

Comments

  • SabreSabre Veteran
    Thanks :)
  • howhow Veteran
    edited July 2012
    I do not disagree but
    you should explain for clarity that this is an ideal, rather than as a vocation or description of one who follows such a path. It is like explaining how all monks train by the example of what the buddha did.
  • betaboybetaboy Veteran
    Without becoming a hermit, it's impossible to become enlightened. Being a hermit is the most difficult thing to do.
  • ZeroZero Veteran
    Thanks @person :)
  • I live a large part of my life as a hermit nowadays being a 28-year-old.
    There is no other way.
    I only go 'out' into society to get what I need.
    (work, food, excercise, clothes, stuff)
    riverflow
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran
    wouldn't interacting with people in any way, indicate not being a hermit? To me it includes have next to no input at all from the outside world, for a specific reason, and to me interacting online is still interacting with society. I have the same discussion with my sister. She disappears for several days to go backpacking to remove herself from society, but she takes her phone and spends half her trip posting on FB about it and talking to people in email and FB. To me, that isn't removing yourself from society. I'm not accusing, just asking :)
  • as a lay-person in a crowded western country...
    I live my live for a big part as a hermit.
    This forum is spiritual training, my sangha.

  • BeejBeej Human Being Veteran
    here's a starter video.... there are six parts

    China's hermits
    riverflow
  • I don't follow others.
    For the most part.
    I take teachings and make them my own.
  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran
    edited July 2012
    @TheBeejAbides....Gratitude for the teachings I received. The Nun touched my heart and made me laugh.
    When Master said...Nature? Close to nature? Will the clothes climb on your back?
    This was good stuff! Good stuff to keep my practice determined!
    Thanks again for posting this :)
  • BeejBeej Human Being Veteran
    edited July 2012
    @vastminds - yes! that moment stuck out to me too! Reminded me of a part of a book that I read called The Future of the Past, where the author examines how different cultures approach preservation of heritage and/or archaeoligical sites, and how new technology will change the way people do these things in the future. The part that i remembered was actually about Madagascar, and how the inhabitants had no word for "nature" because their culture didnt make the distinction between themselves and their environment, as if they had some deep seeded intuition infused in their understanding, that the other-liness of that duality was not neccesary to understand existence. Indiginous or aboriginal peoples seem to have (or not have?, semantically) this theme, in some way, throughout their traditions. I'm guessing this is more likely to occur as insight the more one spends time in "nature", as in the case of the hermits..... And then you see that nature isn't real, but just another test to challenge your knowledge of immortality. I do most of my meditating outside in nature because, well, it just feels like that's where the truth is, or semantically, isn't. :bowdown:
  • as a lay-person in a crowded western country...
    I live my live for a big part as a hermit.
    This forum is spiritual training, my sangha.

    Where do you reside? Do you live alone?
  • I don't follow others.
    For the most part.
    I take teachings and make them my own.
    yes! Exactly!
  • Renouncing violence
    for all living beings,
    harming not even a one,
    you would not wish for offspring,
    so how a companion?
    Wander alone
    like a rhinoceros.

    For a sociable person
    there are allurements;
    on the heels of allurement, this pain.
    Seeing allurement's drawback,
    wander alone
    like a rhinoceros.

    One whose mind
    is enmeshed in sympathy
    for friends & companions,
    neglects the true goal.
    Seeing this danger in intimacy,
    wander alone
    like a rhinoceros.

    Like spreading bamboo,
    entwined,
    is concern for offspring & spouses.
    Like a bamboo sprout,
    unentangling,
    wander alone
    like a rhinoceros.

    As a deer in the wilds,
    unfettered,
    goes for forage wherever it wants:
    the wise person, valuing freedom,
    wanders alone
    like a rhinoceros.

    In the midst of companions
    — when staying at home,
    when going out wandering —
    you are prey to requests.
    Valuing the freedom
    wander alone
    like a rhinoceros.

    There is sporting & love
    in the midst of companions,
    & abundant fondness for offspring.
    Feeling disgust
    at the prospect of parting
    from those who'd be dear,
    wander alone
    like a rhinoceros.

    Without resistance in all four directions,
    content with whatever you get,
    enduring troubles with no dismay,
    wander alone
    like a rhinoceros.

    They are hard to please,
    some of those gone forth,
    as well as those living the household life.
    Shedding concern
    for these offspring of others,
    wander alone
    like a rhinoceros.

    Cutting off the householder's marks,[1]
    like a kovilara tree
    that has shed its leaves,
    the prudent one, cutting all household ties,
    wander alone
    like a rhinoceros.

    If you gain a mature companion,
    a fellow traveler, right-living & wise,
    overcoming all dangers
    go with him, gratified,
    mindful.

    If you don't gain a mature companion,
    a fellow traveler, right-living & wise,
    wander alone
    like a king renouncing his kingdom,
    like the elephant in the Matanga wilds,
    his herd.

    We praise companionship
    — yes!
    Those on a par, or better,
    should be chosen as friends.
    If they're not to be found,
    living faultlessly,
    wander alone
    like a rhinoceros.

    Seeing radiant bracelets of gold,
    well-made by a smith,
    clinking, clashing,
    two on an arm,
    wander alone
    like a rhinoceros,
    [thinking:]
    "In the same way,
    if I were to live with another,
    there would be careless talk or abusive."
    Seeing this future danger,
    wander alone
    like a rhinoceros.

    Because sensual pleasures,
    elegant, honeyed, & charming,
    bewitch the mind with their manifold forms —
    seeing this drawback in sensual strands —
    wander alone
    like a rhinoceros.

    "Calamity, tumor, misfortune,
    disease, an arrow, a danger for me."
    Seeing this danger in sensual strands,
    wander alone
    like a rhinoceros.

    Cold & heat, hunger & thirst,
    wind & sun, horseflies & snakes:
    enduring all these, without exception,
    wander alone
    like a rhinoceros.

    As a great white elephant,
    with massive shoulders,
    renouncing his herd,
    lives in the wilds wherever he wants,
    wander alone
    like a rhinoceros.

    "There's no way
    that one delighting in company
    can touch even momentary release."
    Heeding the Solar Kinsman's words,
    wander alone
    like a rhinoceros.

    Transcending the contortion of views,
    the sure way attained,
    the path gained,
    [realizing:]
    "Unled by others,
    I have knowledge arisen,"
    wander alone
    like a rhinoceros.

    With no greed, no deceit,
    no thirst, no hypocrisy —
    delusion & blemishes
    blown away —
    with no inclinations for all the world,
    every world,
    wander alone
    like a rhinoceros.

    Avoid the evil companion
    disregarding the goal,
    intent on the out-of-tune way.
    Don't take as a friend
    someone heedless & hankering.
    wander alone
    like a rhinoceros.

    Consort with one who is learned,
    who maintains the Dhamma,
    a great & quick-witted friend.
    Knowing the meanings,
    subdue your perplexity,
    [then] wander alone
    like a rhinoceros,

    Free from longing, finding no pleasure
    in the world's sport, love, or sensual bliss,
    abstaining from adornment,
    speaking the truth,
    wander alone
    like a rhinoceros.

    Abandoning offspring, spouse,
    father, mother,
    riches, grain, relatives,
    & sensual pleasures
    altogether,
    wander alone
    like a rhinoceros.

    "This is a bondage, a baited hook.
    There's little happiness here,
    next to no satisfaction,
    all the more suffering & pain."
    Knowing this, circumspect,
    wander alone
    like a rhinoceros.

    Shattering fetters,
    like a fish in the water tearing a net,
    like a fire not coming back to what's burnt,
    wander alone
    like a rhinoceros.

    Eyes downcast, not footloose,
    senses guarded, with protected mind,
    not oozing — not burning — with lust,
    wander alone
    like a rhinoceros.

    Taking off the householder's marks,[2]
    like a coral tree
    that has shed its leaves,
    going forth in the ochre robe,
    wander alone
    like a rhinoceros.

    Showing no greed for flavors, not careless,
    going from house to house for alms,
    with mind unenmeshed in this family or that,
    wander alone
    like a rhinoceros.

    Abandoning barriers to awareness,
    expelling all defilements — all —
    non-dependent, cutting aversion,
    allurement,
    wander alone
    like a rhinoceros.

    Turning your back on pleasure & pain,
    as earlier with sorrow & joy,
    attaining pure equanimity,
    tranquillity,
    wander alone
    like a rhinoceros.

    With persistence aroused
    for the highest goal's attainment,
    with mind unsmeared, not lazy in action,
    firm in effort, with steadfastness & strength arisen,
    wander alone
    like a rhinoceros.

    Not neglecting seclusion, absorption,
    constantly living the Dhamma
    in line with the Dhamma,
    comprehending the danger
    in states of becoming,
    wander alone
    like a rhinoceros.

    Intent on the ending of craving & heedful,
    learned, mindful, not muddled,
    certain — having reckoned the Dhamma —
    & striving,
    wander alone
    like a rhinoceros.

    Unstartled, like a lion at sounds.
    Unsnared, like the wind in a net.
    Unsmeared, like a lotus in water:
    wander alone
    like a rhinoceros.

    Like a lion — forceful, strong in fang,
    living as a conqueror, the king of beasts —
    resort to a solitary dwelling.
    Wander alone
    like a rhinoceros.

    At the right time consorting
    with the release through good will,
    compassion,
    appreciation,
    equanimity,
    unobstructed by all the world,
    any world,
    wander alone
    like a rhinoceros.

    Having let go of passion,
    aversion,
    delusion;
    having shattered the fetters;
    undisturbed at the ending of life,
    wander alone
    like a rhinoceros.

    People follow & associate
    for a motive.
    Friends without a motive these days
    are rare.
    They're shrewd for their own ends, & impure.
    Wander alone
    like a rhinoceros.

    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/snp/snp.1.03.than.html
    Jeffrey
  • BeejBeej Human Being Veteran
    A Tibetan Hermit
  • I live a large part of my life as a hermit nowadays being a 28-year-old.
    There is no other way.
    I only go 'out' into society to get what I need.
    (work, food, excercise, clothes, stuff)
    That's cool. I want to live like that.
  • To live as a hermit is ideal in the pursuit of Enlightenment. But Enlightenment, one must understand, does not happen over night, per se, or in one life time. It takes eons and there is no surety of it until one has reached it.

    In one lifetime, if one can't relinquish all for the forest, then be content living in society as Enlightenment could be found everywhere, not necessarily in the woods alone. However, living in the woods requires a greater level of graduation in the Dhamma than if one is to live in society. Why? It is becaue in the woods, if one thinks there is no distraction at all, then it is false. There is a different level of distraction that only the highly trained of meditator could overcome. That is the distraction posed by Mara.

    Mara takes on any form. Their purpose is to distract a meditator from finding Enlightenment and they'd use powerful spells to entrap/lure an individual from their sublime goal. If one does not have the training, they could not overcome this obstacle. But there is the danger to the most trained as well: the danger of unable to return to their physical form once their soul enters the jhana state.

    At any rate, in society, one can cultivate enlightenment because enlightenment is another word that means the cessation of a cause or effect. For example, if one is to find enlightenment in smoking/drinking, then no amount of temptation could lure that individual. In all his years, he never touch a cigarette or a drink after the vow, then at the end of his life, he'd earn one enlightenment: the enlightenment of no smoking/drinking. To be a fully enlightened Buddha, a Pacceka Buddha, s/he must cultivate billions and billions of enlightenment. This requires eons to accomplish.
  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran
    edited July 2012
    @TheBeeJAbides...Keep 'em comin' !
    This is back to basics, back to Buddha as you can get!
    Take away the finger-burning, the prayer flags, the zafus,
    the gold statues, the altars, all that!


    I really appreciate the Hermit vocation. lolololol
    I call it that, because yes, @how, it is different than Monks. As
    seen in the video(s). This Hermithood is a full time gig!
    Letting it ALL go, 24/7. Practicing full-time, if you will. :)

    May Hermits teach us the practice of giving.
    Giving happens with such intention and with such ease.

    This dedication of oneself seems to be such a usefull teaching
    tool for Lay/Householders, or is it just me?
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran
    In the area I live (in the woods, basically) we have many hermits. They come into town a couple times a year, often by snowshoe or sled dog, for supplies and they live by themselves otherwise. I don't work, so I can easily go days without participating in society, and I quite enjoy when I can do that. i don't like the influence and pull of society, and I don't like the culture, overall. I could, quite easily, buy a parcel of land, build a cabin and live there with minimal contact for long periods of time. I go on camping retreats by myself frequently, not only do I go alone but I can be the only person on the lake for a matter of many days at a time, sometimes longer. There is nothing like it in the world, once you get past the initial sense of panic you feel. It does require a different level of awareness, but I don't find it more difficult. I find forced life that goes against who I am to be far more difficult than solitude. I have a family, and I love them dearly and have no desire to leave them. But it is our future goal once the kids are living on their own, to remove ourselves from society as much as we can. Thankfully, where we live, that's easy to do, lol.
  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran
    @karasti....you sure know what to say !! haha

    I grew up in this 'hermit' enviroment as well. Our commune was taught by people
    who arrived in canoes. I guess we were the 'village' at the end of the swamp. Really.
    Other than coming together for teachings, they stayed to themselves.
    Must be why I love the video's so much! :) Reminds me of home.
    Reminds me of our future goal as well.
  • BeejBeej Human Being Veteran
    @karasti- i too enjoy going camping alone... can you elaborate on what you mean by it taking 'a different level of awareness'? i think i understand what you mean, but would like to hear your take on it. i dont usually get to go camping where i see absolutely no one else for several days, because i live on the crowded east coast of the US within the megalopolis corrider, so its a little harder for me to shake all presence of others. But still very peaceful.
  • ThePensumThePensum Explorer
    I often have had the wonderment of what it would be like to become a hermit, live far away from everyone. It would be so peaceful, with freedom to follow one's thoughts, read, write, play guitar and everything.

    To a large extent I live a relatively hermetic life, compared to a lot of peers.

    However, freedom from desire, from craving and attachment is still achievable without becoming a hermit. It's a lot harder admittedly. But it is a question of control over thought, mind, habit and attitudes.
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    Nice to see so many hermits using the internet now. :coffee:
    lobster
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran
    I would give up the internet even, lol. Right now, I can't. I did give up my smart phone today though ;)

    @TheBeejAbides I guess it's just relearning how to not have to be aware of all the distractions. When you are so used to traffic (and traffic here constitutes 5 cars traveling in a line) and sirens and standing in lines, it's actually kind of distressing at first to suddenly be in the absence of that. You have to relearn how to just be. Then there are the more practical things. I prefer to be barefoot whenever possible, and when I camp I'm barefoot almost all the time, so that means always being really aware of where I am stepping, of whether that noise in the trees was just a noise or a bear after my dinner, etc. I don't know if I can adequately explain it. It's just that the world is a very different type of place when you can actually eliminate all those distractions. When the sounds of drunken karaoke are replaced with loons calling to each other, it's just a different way of being, even if you are very good at mindfulness in your life surrounded by society.

    In my normal everyday life, even if I shut off the tv, and the computer, and the phones, there are always distractions. My kids need a ride, my dishes need to be done, pets need food, garden needs tending. I am better at being mindful within it, but it's not the same as when you can eliminate those distractions entirely.

    I feel really lucky to live where I do. My grandparents settled here many years ago, my parents stayed, and I came back. It's an area a lot of people like to visit, because it's one of the few places in the US you can go where the wilderness is not allowed to be influenced by culture. No roads, no motors, flight restrictions, no blinking cell towers, no sirens, no light pollution. You can lay in the sand at a campsite and watch the northern lights. It's a sense of peace like no other, and people flock here to find that sense of peace in their lives, if only for a week or 2 every year. I feel very blessed to have a life that people have to take vacation to have. I wish more people could experience it on a regular basis. It changes your life.
  • howhow Veteran
    edited July 2012
    Idolizing one path over another is just another bon bon for the ego. As a hermit, or a master, or a renunciate, or a layperson, the Buddha's path was, is and always was about letting go of attachments. That means that the real path is just our process of letting go of craving whether in a cave, around ones family or where ever we really are.
    It is both simple and hard
    for everyone, everywhere.
    lobsterJeffrey
  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran
    edited July 2012
    .........
    However, freedom from desire, from craving and attachment is still achievable without becoming a hermit. It's a lot harder admittedly. But it is a question of control over thought, mind, habit and attitudes.
    I agree. I admit the suburbs has made my practice harder.
    Explaining my online Sangha, online Dharma, etc.
    And yes, the future plans will include letting go of the internet. :)
  • ThePensumThePensum Explorer
    .........
    However, freedom from desire, from craving and attachment is still achievable without becoming a hermit. It's a lot harder admittedly. But it is a question of control over thought, mind, habit and attitudes.
    I agree. I admit the suburbs has made my practice harder.
    Explaining my online Sangha, online Dharma, etc.
    And yes, the future plans will include letting go of the internet. :)
    Letting go = cutting the connection wires?

    I could never do it given that I live on the opposite end of the country, and opposite ends of the globe from family and friends, and the communication benefits are just too much.

    If you mean letting go in the sense of ceasing to waste the working day away on news websites, blogs, comixed.com, youtube, facebook. Then yes ... maybe one day ;-)

    That reminds me ... haven't been to comixed in a while.
  • GuiGui Veteran
    I don't see where living in isolation would make any difference regarding the third noble truth. Letting go of who you think you are would require the same practice and effort whether you thought you were a hermit or a hollywood star or a zen master...
  • Idolizing one path over another is just another bon bon for the ego. As a hermit, or a master, or a renunciate, or a layperson, the Buddha's path was, is and always was about letting go of attachments. That means that the real path is just our process of letting go of craving whether in a cave, around ones family or where ever we really are.
    It is both simple and hard
    for everyone, everywhere.
    I agree :)

    Hermit is kind of a mental state, liberated.

    The really adept can be amidst as much hustle and bustle that can exist and not be phased by it at all.

    There are those that can die anywhere, like a beggar in the street, the most adept.

    There are those that can die out in the wilderness away from most of the turmoil.

    Etc. etc.
  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran
    edited July 2012
    Hermits have no peer pressure
  • CittaCitta Veteran
    Vastmind said:

    Hermits have no peer pressure

    You reckon ?
  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran
    ^^^ Yes...that was my reckon/conclusion as of July 2012.....
    I still think it's a useful tool...but... well, nevermind all that...

    BTW....FYI...mods here don't like threads pulled that
    are over 6 months old.....see the date under names(s)...?
    Please start a new thread recognizing my quick wisdom...
    hahaha..In the meantime, if you get pinched...I'll have the
    bail money together. :D
    Beej
  • CittaCitta Veteran
    Whoops...actually I agree that thread archeology is a dubious thing... for exactly that reason. we change.
    My apologies.
  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran
    edited May 2013
    Glad your back with us :)
    Hold on to your tie...it can be a bumpy ride...lolololo
    Beej
  • zenmystezenmyste Veteran
    betaboy said:

    Without becoming a hermit, it's impossible to become enlightened. Being a hermit is the most difficult thing to do.

    I disagree

    I know of someone who is enlightened and isnt a hermit!

    In fact, he is a normal, ordinary, working family man!

    (Hes not even a buddhist either)
    Well, he thinks hes not a buddhist ;)
  • It's easy to imagine you are a Saint as a hermit. :vimp:
    zenmyste
  • betaboybetaboy Veteran
    zenmyste said:

    betaboy said:

    Without becoming a hermit, it's impossible to become enlightened. Being a hermit is the most difficult thing to do.

    I disagree

    I know of someone who is enlightened and isnt a hermit!

    In fact, he is a normal, ordinary, working family man!

    (Hes not even a buddhist either)
    Well, he thinks hes not a buddhist ;)
    Shh, this was supposed to be our little secret.
    Beejhow
  • hey, are you talking about me?

    warning. strong language.

    riverflow
  • BeejBeej Human Being Veteran
    This was one of my favorite threads from when i first joined NB. Unfortunately, its almost a year old, so i expect it to be closed at any second now..........

    Cue @federica.... she sings a lovely swan song. :lol:
    riverflow
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