Senescence and Solitude

“The organic process of growing older
and showing the effects of increasing age”.
And I’d been drawn into believing that decay was un-natural and should be avoided at all costs, or at the very least, ‘fixed’! Take heart oh silver haired readers.

Maybe because I will be on my way to a week-end retreat in BC in three weeks, or maybe because I’m just ready to spend some down time, what ever the reason this site devoted to Hermitary struck a cord this evening. And while there, following a link I found an article, Wabi and Sabi: The Aesthetics of Solitude that took me right back to memories of my original spiritual longings, which drew me towards the contemplative life.

Back then I had a romantic notion of what ‘the contemplative life’ would be like. Yes, perhaps living alone in an isolated place away from hustle and bustle. However, in our tradition at least, we are encouraged to be content to sit in our ‘cave’ whereever we are, alone or in a crowd. And sometimes we do retreat to a remote hermitage.

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6 thoughts on “Senescence and Solitude”

  1. Absolutely natural, a slow accumulation of random errors as your cells divide. As an aside, restricted calorie intake (a ponderous way of saying “eat less”) is known to prolong life in fruit flies, and maybe humans too. There’s a genetic component, but you can’t do anything about that. I’m begining to creak and ache, but that’s fine – I’ve had a lot of cell divisions! I continually marvel how it all self-organises.

    That is a fine photograph. Covered with silt, and a million years of pressure, you can imagine future robot archeologists from another star system brushing away, layer by layer, and wondering about some strange bipedal hominids, weighing 120 kg or so, and wondering why they disappeared from the planet so abruptly.

    Sorry, should use my own blog to ramble on!

    In gassho

  2. To comment once is bad enough, but twice? Forgive me: the picture triggered something, and I’ve recalled it. I read the Economist (June 3rd) on the flight, and there is a piece on Richard Long and John Constable. The latter is familiar, but Richard Long?

    The piece begins, “British artists have a peculiar ability to immerse themselves in the landscape, to see its dirt as well as its Divine Glory”.

    “Mr Long has been making art out of walking since 1967, when he carved a line in the grass by walking across a wet field repeatedly and photographing it”.

    Walking back down Orchard Road tonight I was with the world – I had to cross busy roads and flow with and against the crowds – but I was in the “cave” as well. Not withdrawal, but alert and listening to another Voice.

    It’s good to know you’ve been here, and your Master in turn, and her Master in turn. Perhaps that’s it.

    With bows

  3. I was thinking about my ‘temple in the sky’ as I was out walking in the rain this morning. And thinking about Mr. Lee Ku and how I’d like him to design it for me. Oh, and I was generally thinking about friends in Singapore.

    I’m so glad you have taken your cave Eastwards. Long may you reside at peace there (within the bustle). Orchard Road is one busy busy place isn’t it. To think, I was walking there just this time last year. Before that…September 1970.

    There is a blog forming from your last comment. Thanks. You can leave as many comments in a day as you wish. Perhaps it will encourage others to contribute their thoughts.

  4. The photograph was taken in…I think September/October 2003 on the California Redwood Coast near a small community called McKinleyville.

    I’ve so many photographs of that beach it was hard to choose which one to post.

  5. I know Richard Long’s work!
    …And found it inspiring and moving, even through its cool conceptual rigour.
    I think the ‘longings’ fuelled by my own ‘romantic notions’ are the things that prompted me into studying art and becoming an artist, and from there to finding Zen.
    However, the reality of life as an artist (and Art!) and the notions that i had (and hold), of it can be poles apart!!!
    How to reconcile that seeming reality with the same inner promptings that i find moving me towards the path of Zen has been a bit of a koan for me in the last few years….
    So…Thankyou Rev Mugo for your post, and for the link in it, which sheds some light on the matter for me!

    Nice photo by the way! (i take it they’re not your footprints?!).
    And thanks Walter for reminding me of Richard Long.



  6. Thanks Miles, always good to hear from you. I’m glad the posting touched a cord.

    No the footprints in the sand are not mine. I believe they were left by somebody who makes his mark here from time to time. Or, they could belong to his wife.

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