Archive for the ‘Solitude’ Category

The Hermit Fathers; The Spirit Born by Fr. Samaan El Souriany

With all the strife in the Middle East today, it’s hard to remember that this was once the land of hermits and the founding centre of monasticism in the West.

Upper Egypt (ie. southern) had cenobitic or communal monastics; lower Egypt had hermits such as St. Anthony, considered to be the founding father of Western monasticism. He died in 356 AD at the age of 105. Syria, Cappadocia (in modern Turkey) and Palestine all had monasteries or hermits in the 5th century AD.

What makes their story, and this book, particularly fascinating is that they were developing their spiritual practice as they lived from day to day – in most cases they were not following the rules laid down by others.  “The essence of the spirituality of the desert is that it was not taught but caught; it was a whole way of life,” according to the Foreword. (more…)


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“A View from the Ridge” by Morris West

If you don’t immediately recall the name Morris West from reading some of his 20 novels, it’s almost certain that you’ve seen the films made from “The Shoes of the Fisherman” or “The Devil’s Advocate”.
Morris West sold many millions of books.  His stories always had a spiritual dimension and were easy to read, engrossing and often thought provoking. (more…)

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Find a Retreat to Suit You – Trusting your own inner voice of calm

There are as many good reasons to go on a retreat as there are places in Canada offering specific programs or just quiet accommodation where your desire for solitude and calm will be respected. Common to all – and perhaps what separates the experience of a retreat from tourism or staying at a resort hotel – is the desire for peace of mind, deep relaxation and re-connection with our inner being. (more…)

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In 1995, in one of my breaks from writing and travelling, I founded and built a retreat centre on a 90-acre farm in southern Ontario, Canada.  Still Life Retreat was non-denominational, though the teachings of the Buddha inform my own way of life and practice.

Still Life Retreat in winter time.

The intention of Still Life Retreat was support people in whatever type of retreat they needed to make.  I used to joke that Still Life served mostly the “wilted and the wired” – those individuals who were exhausted and needed rest and to refresh themselves, or who were moving and talking too much and needed to slow down.

Part of the outreach (as well as marketing) of Still Life Retreat was to publish the Canadian Retreat Guide, a guide to more than 140 places offering retreats or accommodation for inner personal reflection.  This reading guide was part of the guide.  The book is now out of print, but the information is still available on the net.

I returned to full-time writing and travelling in 2000.  The retreat centre is now operated as Still Life Christian Retreat. (more…)

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A Book of Silence by Sara Maitland

In the course of researching and writing the book Maitland spent silent time in silent places – on Skye in the Hebrides; in the Sinai Desert; in forests and mountains; in a flotation tank; in monasteries and libraries. She was trying to match her personal experiences to those of other people – from fairy stories to single-handed sailors, from hermits and romantic poets to prisoners and castaways, from reading and writing to mountaineering and polar exploration, from mythology to psychoanalysis. (more…)

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The Hermit Writings of S.

These are a remarkable collection of short essays on many aspects of being a hermit – self-sufficiency, hermit and the world, love, time, urban eremitism, and virtue, for example. They are straight-forward, down to earth and direct. The writings are posted on the Hermitary website by Meng-hu. They are presented here with no changes to present them to more people and in a pdf format that may be more convenient to readers. The essays offer sound advice to novice hermits not only about the practicalities of the life (such as suggestions of where and how to live) but more importantly about some of the issues that are bound to come up as soon as the distractions of the world fall away. (more…)

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Hermits through the ages

A Pelican in the Wilderness: Hermits, Solitaries & Recluses by Isabel Colegate

Isobel Colegate brings a novelists insight to the lives of hermits through the ages – men and women, Buddhist, Christian and others who have found the journey either liberating or hell. She tells their stories with a genuine interest and warmth that is neither overly enthusiastic (knowing how many have been brutalized by the experience) nor uncomprehendingly critical.

A Pelican in the Wilderness: Hermits and Solitaries

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