Urban Hermit

“Most of us have imagined what it would be like to live in a completely different way.” This is the vision that underlies the article, “Urban Hermit: A Different Way of Being in the World” by Mu Soeng (Insight Journal, 2016). Soeng is┬áProgram Director and Resident Scholar at Barre Center for Buddhist Studies. He trained in the (Korean) Zen tradition and was a monk for eleven years. In this article he writes about several types of urban hermits, from a modern-day Thoreau living in the New England woods, to a couple sharing a 350-square foot “micro-apartment” in Greenwich Village, to a wandering scholar of language & science-turned-Catholic priest. The archetypes are diverse, but all seem motivated by a common ethic: “the need to create some distance between their inner lives and the fragmentation produced by a chaotic social setting and work culture in a post-industrial society.”

I find inspiration in these lives. Nothing about my 5 computers, 3 bicycles, blogging every week-lifestyle marks me as a hermit, but I know that my meditation practice is founded on “the need to create some distance between … inner lives and … fragmentation produced by a chaotic social setting and work culture.”