In Days past I used to travel far to make the best hermitage experience I could create. For the last ten years I have sort of lived "hermitage" and travel became unnecessary. The simple act of being alone in total silence for extended periods of time can be quite devastating for many people. I used to be one of them. Being too alone freaks people the hell out. The voices and noises inside their head never cease, so they drown it out with noise, distraction, food or games. Any thing but the harsh reality of silence and solitude they must otherwise face. Since this problem of being alone was a weak spot within my character I decided to meet it head on. Go to it, confront it. Develop myself beyond it. This is when my many phases of hermitage began in 1980
Many people think that to be alone you must go to a remote place and that viewpoint is not completely accurate. The aloneness, the solitude of the sacred solo soldier may at first be found through isolating oneself in a remote spot. But the idea is to find that "spot" inside yourself eventually. Understand that a person can be "alone" even in a crowded room full of people. But let us stick to the basis of this article and get back to isolation training and how it can enhance your overall martial arts profile. Love it or hate it, it is something you should ultimately tackle and master.
From vision quests alone in the wilderness to the isolation of a monks cell deep within the temple confines, alone-ness has a long history of hard won reward. In this case reward and redemption is often found in the form of enlightenment and new found spiritual growth. JAK
"Perception suffers a profound jolt when we are placed in states of quietude in darkness. Our hearing takes the lead then, and the signals from all the living and existing entities around us can be detected--not with our hearing only, but with a combination of the auditory and visual senses, in that order. In darkness the eyes become subsidiary to the ears".
Don Juan Matus
We live a nosey, snoopy world of watchful eyes and tattle tale busy-bodies. There is little we can do without someone seeing or hearing us. Such constant observation is not how man should live. But such as it is right? It is said that personal energy can be drained off, reduced by always being under such harsh unending scrutiny. This is why some people do not like to have anyone about who "watches" them. These people feel and sense the psychic intrusion. They do not like the feeling. But as it is we should go away from such eyes and their negative energy influences. Hence, the Thoreau like return to nature ala the wilderness of Waldens Pond in every instance of true hermitage. Find YOUR spot or let it find you.
Choose your place of isolation. You know what you need. Take it easy the first few times. Start slow. Be kind to yourself. Decide what the area you will be living in requires for you to survive in it for awhile. Be spartan with your self. But do not be punishing. (to see how tough ya are isn't the goal). Basically get your shit together while you can. Austere is a term to know.
For when you are alone many things assail you. Your death, the death of those who've gone before you. Grim realities should be addressed, but not focused upon. Try instead to stay busy, Make something, time is your friend. Stop feeling the pressures. They no longer will exist for you. Make friends with time for once. Keep a diary, write things down. Be a brief or as detailed as you feel it need be. Writing is a valuable thing, it is not a chore. Don't take chances. You are alone. Fuck up even a little and get bit hard. No room for error. Take responsibility for your actions and become the adult. The value of hermitage is the doing of it, not the talking-reading about it. Get your bearings and give it a try. This is my first communication in regards to death, solitude and the growth of the human spirit into a great thing.
When a man embarks on the paths of sorcery he becomes aware, in a gradual manner, that ordinary life has been forever left behind; that knowledge is indeed a frightening affair; that the means of the ordinary world are no longer a buffer for him; and that he must adopt a new way of life if he is going to survive. The first thing he ought to do, at that point, is to want to become a warrior. The frightening nature of knowledge leaves one no alternative but to become a warrior. By the time knowledge becomes a frightening affair the man also realizes that death is the irreplaceable partner that sits next to him on the mat. Every bit of knowledge that becomes power has death as its central force. Death lends the ultimate touch and whatever is touched by death indeed becomes power. A man who follows the paths of sorcery is confronted with imminent annihilation every turn of the way, and unavoidably he becomes keenly aware of his death. Without the awareness of death he would be only an ordinary man involved in ordinary acts. He would lack the necessary potency, the necessary concentration that transforms one's ordinary time on earth into magical power. Thus to be a warrior a man has to be, first of all, and rightfully so, keenly aware of his own death. But to be concerned with death would force any one of us to focus on the self and that would be debilitating. So the next thing one needs to be a warrior is detachment. The idea of imminent death, instead of becoming an obsession, becomes an indifference.
We have all heard about people going off somewhere remote to "find themselves". Sad as it is it often ends with tragedy finding them. The idea of a "get away" ("walkabout" in downunder speak) is appealing. But this shit simply isn't that easy without a proper mindset. From the wilderness "bus guy" death to the MMA fighter in the desert death disaster - it is a theme all too common in aesthetic pursuits.
Going into some remote spot is like climbing a really tall tree. Not too hard to do. But, in every instance it becomes an entirely different game coming back down the tree. So at first I caution ye a'gin. Simply play it safe and smart as possible. But I must also mention that all of this shit can turn ugly or even deadly in a fraction of a second. Self awareness is super vital, environmental awareness too. Ye cannot (must not) be paranoid, but at the same time ye cannot be too cautious in any given instance. Once the spirits know that you have taken this step. They'll come. The tests will given on the three levels which all men must ultimately embrace & master or be cast as spiritually dead.
"Now you must detach yourself; detach yourself from everything. Only the idea of death makes a man sufficiently detached so he is incapable of abandoning himself to anything. Only the idea of death makes a man sufficiently detached so he can't deny himself anything. A man of that sort, however, does not crave, for he has acquired a silent lust for life and for all things of life. He knows his death is stalking him and won't give him time to cling to anything, so he tries, without craving, all of everything. A detached man, who knows he has no possibility of fencing off his death, has only one thing to back himself with: the power of his decisions. He has to be, so to speak, the master of his choices. He must fully understand that his choice is his responsibility and once he makes it there is no longer time for regrets or recriminations. His decisions are final, simply because his death does not permit him time to cling to anything.
Think of your death now. It is at arm's length. It may tap you any moment, so really you have no time for crappy thoughts and moods. None of us have time for that. The only thing that counts is action, acting instead of talking.
Our death is waiting and this very act we're performing now may well be our last battle on earth. I call it a battle because it is a struggle. Most people move from act to act without any struggle or thought. A hunter, on the contrary, assesses every act; and since he has an intimate knowledge of his death, he proceeds judiciously, as if every act were his last battle. Only a fool would fail to notice the advantage a hunter has over his fellow men. A hunter gives his last battle its due respect. It's only natural that his last act on earth should be the best of himself. It's pleasurable that way. It dulls the edge of his fright. I've told you, this is a weird world. The forces that guide men are unpredictable, awesome, yet their splendor is something to witness. Call them forces, spirits, airs, winds, or anything like that".
In his day-to-day life a warrior chooses to follow the path with heart. It is the consistent choice of the path with heart which makes a warrior different from the average man. He knows that a path has heart when he is one with it, when he experiences a great peace and pleasure traversing its length. The things a warrior selects to make his shields are the items of a path with heart. You must surround yourself with the items of a path with heart and you must refuse the rest. You have to be aware of the uselessness of your self-importance and of your personal history.
Your death can give you a little warning, it always comes as a chill. Death is our eternal companion, it is always to our left, at an arm's length. Don Juan Matus.
Act like a warrior and select the items of your world. You cannot surround yourself with things helter-skelter any longer. I tell you this in a most serious vein. A warrior encounters those inexplicable and unbending forces because he is deliberately seeking them, thus he is always prepared for the encounter. The first thing you must do, then, is be prepared. A warrior takes the responsibility of protecting his life. Then if any of those forces tap him and open his gap, he must deliberately strive to close it by himself. For that purpose he must have a selected number of things that give him great peace and pleasure, things which he can deliberately use to take his thoughts from his fright and close his gap and make him solid.
In your isolated seclusion, the place you have made camp have a few moving things about. A piece of cloth that flutters in the wind. A small mobile that moves, even odd shaped branches hung from tree limbs by string. Some add a small mirror to the package. I myself add the mirror. Study a bit of fung shuei. You'll get the idea. This may look somewhat odd, but the subtle effects are postive or even magical in what they do for you when alone.
Alone. Think alone. Smile alone. Don't be sad when alone. Alone is the true way. Alone is the only way. Alone is a lonely way. Alone all things work. Alone success is do-able. Anything other than learning the solitary path early on in life is a handicap, a weak thing. To be alone is a vision quest in itself. It is the alone-ness of finding your spirit guardian. It is the alone-ness of your own death. No one helps you then. We all Die alone. We all do. Most fear the hell out of the alone-ness. This new generation is VERY fearful of the solitary game of being alone. (Dem go nuts) The big open of the wilderness or the immensity of the human spirit all generate the "alone" effect. Mas Oyama said that training in the immensity of nature makes a man feel small and worthless. True. Humbling stuff.
It is the higher path to remain calm. It is those who do and thus find their "way" who come back with a new purpose and outlook. Character development as a natural person.
"Hermitage. It's benefits and practice. A lost path of man's strength found and a child's fears overcame. Of dark night, long days and the forging of the new soul. Long ago I made friends with ALONE. It became a power & pride. It is this which was the first transformation I underwent in order to "become". Through thick and thin, always alone. Sounds easy. NO it was not. Any one who seeks personal power must endure and understand HERMITAGE. To be ALONE: A true test and once mastered is an asset for the rest of your life". JAK
(thanx Dave G. for the inspiration)
"Silence is the sound of creativity and wisdom. Noise is the same creativity and wisdom IN ACTION"! JAK
We have been very strenuously conditioned against solitude. To be alone is considered to be a grievous and dangerous condition. ... To live fully and effectively, the idea of achievement must be given up.
--Agnes Martin, Writings (2004)
"You are never alone because you are full of all the memories, all the conditioning, all the mutterings of yesterday; your mind is never clear of all the rubbish it has accumulated. To be alone you must die to the past. When you are alone, totally alone, not belonging to any family, any nation, any culture, any particular continent, there is the sense of being an outsider". Krishnamurti .
Here are many thoughts on silence and solitude.
For those who have not spent time in solitude before, the following guidelines might be somewhat helpful in a generic manner.
OK, just try to see where fasting, solitude, silence, self control and enlightenment all come together into one point. All of these elements are connected in some way. Use them as the tools they are. To not have these elements in your world is to be meta-physically handicapped.
Where ever and when ever you decide to seek some quiet time just for you I advise getting rid of all gadgetry. Self discipline will be critical to success. Have a plan until you learn to flow. Avoid extremes of emotion and thought. Just remain balanced and happy. Easy does it.
Hermitage has the capacity to make or break a person. It's all in how you deal with things. Perspective is everything at times. Remember that. It's the key to magic and to life as well. Hermitage can be your vehicle to God.