Francis Meyrick

Of Hermits and Authenticity, the Way of Life, and the Unconscious

Posted on September 26, 2014

A recurring theme of China’s hermit tradition is that it doesn’t represent a renunciation of society so much as a renunciation of greed. As a rule, hermits sought to reform society by first reforming themselves

From: “Road to Heaven ” by Bill Porter, p.198

Of Hermits and Authenticity, the Way of Life, and the Unconscious

I knew him, or I thought I did, on the First Level, as most other people did.
In some ways, he reminded me, oddly, of one of Jung’s dissertations on the ‘hermetic vas’. What was it I saw here? A babbling fool? Or the “primitive man who trusts the unconscious”. “Whose way of life is concerned with authenticity, the inner attitude to life, and developing one’s inner and intuitive life, as opposed to playing a role in the external world of socio-politics… ” Was it true what some text said? That “for the one in hermitude, a simplicity of life and thought begins to unfold…”?

A simplicity…?

He was definitely not a bad fellow, but undiplomatic at times, bull headed, and he therefore occasionally annoyed people. He was not without a mild humor. Not without some wit. In a self, deprecating, dry sort of way. He could be very sociable at times, funny, a practical joker, and was rumored to have been a ladies’ man once. He was professional in his work, took his duties seriously, and was, in his own way, reliable. A streak of insane stubbornness was all that alerted a casual observer to the existence of, perhaps, a Second Level. He could not be bullied, or intimidated. When crossed in that manner, a dangerous light would come into his eyes. It didn’t happen often, but when it did, then the gloves came off.

Most people were wholly unaware of the Second Level. Even if they were interested. He preferred it that way. He was quite happy to be dismissed as irrelevant. An oddity. It didn’t offend him in the slightest. He sought no accolades. Praise or Reward were politely and gratefully acknowledged, but one sensed a marked indifference. Only in his writing, under an assumed name, could one truly glimpse the strange, simmering cauldron, with the great bubbles of rage and contempt, the sparks of anger and despair, the noxious fumes of poisonous doubts, and the quiet, surreal peace, of a distant, searching awareness of the Great Unknowable Forces of Eternity. Because of his writing, or scribbling as he called it rather disrespectfully, an observer could, if they so wished, walk with him in the mind. He always left the door open. He didn’t try and drag anybody through, there were no billboards or gawdy neon lights, but there was an unspoken open, warm invitation. I had sat with him at his fireside, many a time, and it was a warm and cheerful place, frequently filled with laughter and irreverent banter.

In another sense, one probably could not walk for very long with him, as he actively sought out a spiritual solitude in his mind. Surrounded by people. Indeed, his was a hermitude that perplexed me. In one sense, it seemed of the classical kind, that harked back to remote mountain tops, long white beards, and distant eyes staring out, unseeing yet seeing, over mist draped valleys, for days and weeks on end. Except that he would have been the first to mercilessly mock such a picture. Instead, he chose to walk the streets of Mammon, past skyscrapers, casinos and offices, past vulgarity and gaudy advertising. He associated with superficiality, studied the stock market and current affairs, was active on the Internet, and even maintained his own small, obscure website. He studied Mammon. Economics. History. Man’s unspeakable cruelty to his fellow Man. From close up.

But on the Second Level, as time went by, I knew from his scribbling, that his quiet, ice-cold contempt for all things carnal and vain was growing inexorably. He regarded Man’s Mass Media spawned concept of ‘success’ as fawning and farcical. A truly BAD joke. He sought a greater understanding. And I know he admired compassion amongst men. I know that is what he sought. What he admired, and loved the most.

One day, in his “scribblings”, I followed him up a cold, wintery mountain in Old Ireland. I lost him for a while, but when I found him again, he was standing on a high ridge, surrounded by ancient, timeless, moss covered rocks. The rocks were arranged in a large circle, and he stood in the middle. The evening sun was throwing long shadows. Silently, I walked up beside him, unwilling to disturb him, yet curious to know why he stood there so thoughtfully.
At length, he spoke, quietly, as if to himself.

“I love this little planet. It is our home. For all its fragility, it is beautiful. Every day is a gift. Every day is a bonus. I must work harder. I must write more. I must learn, finally, to think. Perhaps, one day, I will even learn feelings. But I know so little. Almost nothing. How can I advance, when I am so dull…?”
There was a long silence, and only the wind answered him.

“I need a Teacher. A Guide. But where do I go to find one? This world is full of gurus and wise men, quacks and charlatans. Faith healers and politicians. How do I know those to whom I turn are worthy of my trust?”
There was a long silence, and only the wind answered him.

“I have many questions. Most of them start with “why?”. Where can I find the Answers?”
There was a long silence, and only the wind answered him.

Then, suddenly, and unexpectedly, he laughed out loud.
Addressing the skies, and the heavens, the Universe, and himself, he bellowed:
There was a long silence, and only the wind answered him.

And then, a small bird, cheeky as hell, fairly rocketed up over the edge of the cliff, whistled brazenly past his head, and then shot up vertically. It caught a thermal, and rode the winds up, briefly resting its wings. It seemed like a wild ride, with unseen torrents of air battering unsuccessfully to bring the small, adventurous, bird down. But up he went, on and on, higher and higher, uproariously, outrageous, clearly having the time of his tiny little life. He was a tough little rascal, for sure.

I looked at my companion, closely watching this crazy bird, and I saw his serious, weather beaten and sun burned face suddenly split into a mischievous grin. Devilish. Ear to ear wide.
And I wondered then if I had maybe caught a glimpse of the Third Level.
A glimpse, mind, just a fleeting shadow.

Mind Free, Forever Free

An interplay between Light and Dark, timelessness, and the long silences. An endless Questioning. Of everything. A disdain of that which passes for success and fame amongst men.
And a great, simple love.

For Life.

And the Eternal Wind, blowing over and around the Ancient Mountains of Ireland…

Francis Meyrick

Last edited by Francis Meyrick on September 26, 2014, 12:26 pm

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