Wednesday, April 11, 2007

What is a "Recluse"?

The first question a naive person might ask is "How can someone be an "urban recluse"? I had this question explained to me by a Catholic urban hermit who said that the main issue is not whether or not one is surrounded by people, but rather whether or not one is connected into a specific religious community.

In my own case I once was a member of a Daoist community. I lived a summer at a retreat centre (amongst other things, I worked in the garden and did all the baking), "knocked head" at a Temple and used to take part in the services. But things didn't work out for me in that community, so I walked away from it. But that didn't end my involvement in Daoism, but rather led me to deepen my faith through decades of individual study and practice.

The essential element is not whether or not one lives in physical proximity with people, but whether or not one is able to make any sort of human connection. I have friends and have been involved in many public battles in defense of nature, but I do not have any spiritual community, which is what makes me a recluse.

Believe me, that makes me as isolated as if I was living on a mountain top!

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