Alan Watts On The Value Of Hermits

By Alan Watts

People today think being a hermit is a very unhealthy thing to do. Very antisocial, doesn’t contribute anything to everybody else—because everybody else is busy contributing like blazes, and a few people have to run off and get out of the way.

But I’ll tell you what hermits realize. If you go off into a far, far forest and get very quiet, you’ll come to understand that you’re connected with everything. That every little insect that comes buzzing around you is a messenger, and that little insect is connected with human beings everywhere else. You can hear. You become incredibly sensitive in your ears and you hear far-off sounds. And just by the very nature of isolating yourself and becoming quiet, you become intensely aware of your relationship with everything else that’s going on.

So if you really want to find out how related you really are, try a little solitude off somewhere, and let it begin to tell you how everything is interdependant in the form of what the Japanese buddhists call ‘jijimuge’. ‘Ji’ means a ‘thing event,’ so it means ‘between thing event and thing event, there is no block.’ Every thing in the world, every event, is like a dewdrop on a multidimentional spider’s web, and every dewdrop contains the reflection of all the other dewdrops.

But you see, the hermit finds this out through his solitude, and so also human beings can aquire a certain solitude, even in the middle of New York City. It’s rather easier, as a matter of fact, to find solitude in New York City than it is in Des Moines, Iowa.

From the transcribed lecture “Self and Other,” available on deoxy.com

More to read about on Butterfly Language:
My (Fool’s) Journey Through The Tarot
You Are A Work In Progress
“I Believe Nothing” By Charles Fort