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Posts Tagged ‘eremitism’

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 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, The Insights of Solitude by Peter France

France’s book is a survey of the wide variety of people who have lived as hermits, mostly in the Christian tradition, but including such modern hermits as the late Robert Lax who lived on Patmos. The rich tapestry of lives is a good introduction to how other people in other times have answered the call to intense solitude. The bibliography is a really useful place to start to delve deeper.

Hermits; The Insights of Solitude

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A Hermit in the Himalayas by Paul Brunton

Paul Brunton was born in London in 1898 and died in Switzerland as recently as 1981. This book is part travelogue through what is still a fairly remore region of the world and part spiritual experience. The book was originally published in 1938, at a time when few outsiders ventured as far as Mount Kailas.

A Hermit in the Himalayas: A Unique Travelogue by One of the Greatest Spiritual Explorers of the Twentieth Century

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Road to Heaven: Encounters with Chinese Hermits by Bill Porter

I remember my elation the first time I read this book and my amazement that there  could still be hermits living in mountainous areas of China even after the Cultural Revolution when so much of the country’s spiritual heritage was destroyed.  Bill Porter’s book is all the more powerful and convincing because he approached the hermits with humility and respect and does not treat them as curiosities from an alien world. A fascinating and thoroughly worthwhile adventure for anyone interest in this subject.
Road to Heaven: Encounters with Chinese Hermits

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In the 1940’s American-born Willard (Kitchener) MacDonald jumped his troop train heading to WWII. Fearing authorities he lived as a Hermit deep in the northern wilderness of Nova Scotia, Canada, for more than 60 years. This is the true story of The Hermit of Gully Lake, a man who lived a life that the rest of us could never endure. He was a soul in exile and yet you will discover that he touched the lives of so many, in ways that no one can really explain — Willard became a Legend.

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