Hermit & Scholar

Lily & Honglei

“Throughout Chinese history, there have always been people who preferred to spend their lives in the mountains, getting by on less, sleeping under thatch, wearing old clothes, working the higher slopes, not talking much, writing even less-maybe a few poems, a recipe or two. Out of touch with the times but not with the seasons, they cultivated roots of the spirit, trading flatland dust for mountain mist. Distant and insignificant, they were the most respected men and women in the world’s oldest society.”
Road to Heaven: Encounters with Chinese Hermits, Bill Porter

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2 replies on “Hermit & Scholar”

“During the Chou Dynasty when Lao-tze was the “Keeper of the Archives” there were signs that the sovereign was losing control of the vassals, and the dynasty appeared to be crumbling. In despair of being able to help, Lao-tze left his official post, renounced all worldly matters and went to live as a recluse. The Tao Te Ching that he allegedly wrote, formed the basis for the philosophy known as Toaism. Whoever sought the “Way and Virtuous Path of Tao” followed the teachings of Lao-Tze. In every dynasty thereafter, a conscientious official, a frustrated scholar or any disappointed individual, often copied this pattern. It became a way of life to withdraw from the hollow, corrupt, degenerate life of the court or officialdom. This was frowned upon men who followed the teachings of Confucius.”

“Whereas Confucious spoke of rules and regulations to establish social order and harmony in life, Lao-tze emphasized living in harmony with the natural order of the universe and said, “Regulations and laws merely reflect the frailties of human behavior. Let each person perfect his own life, and order will prevail.” Confucius believed in involvement and action rather than withdrawal and inaction. Their beliefs and way of thinking were poles apart. Yet it has been said that there is a little of the Taoist in every Chinese, …”

– The Official and The Hermit, a Han Folktale, Lousie and Yuan Hsi Kuo

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