Bill Porter update

Update on Bill Porter — translator of Chinese and Buddhist classics and China traveler, and author of Road to Heaven: Encounters With Chinese Hermits — in, titled “Drawn in the beauty of solitude – a life inspired by Chinese poetry.” Porter’s most recent visit to China centered around his latest book, Paradise of the Mind, on ancient poet Tao Yuanming or Tao Chien. The article reviews Porter’s travels and reflections, concluding:

Considering his age, Porter [he is 75] has decided to settle down and stop his wanderings. Together with some friends, he is preparing to open a meditation center in Seattle.

“The best things in life are things that can make the world stop,” he says. “I found it in Chinese culture, and I would like to share that.”


Mauro Morandi, Italian hermit

Mother Nature Network ofers an article about Mauro Morandi, age 79, who has spent the last 30 years alone on the deserted Italian island of Budelli near Sardinia. Morandi uses solar energy, makes furniture from driftwood, and shares photos of the natural beauty of the place on his Facebook account. He came to the island because “I was very angry with a society that does not take into consideration the individual, but only runs for power and money … We must try to see the beauty to the end, and then we will respect nature and perhaps this world will be saved.” Includes some of the photos.


Solitary occupations enjoyed

Mainstream media is more carefully distinguishing solitude or aloneness from loneliness. An article in The Guardian titled “How To Be Alone: ‘I feel most alive when I’m with my own thoughts’ ” interviews five people with solitary occupations — fire tower officer, expedition doctor, wildlife photographer, long-distance lorry (truck) driver, and land ranger — on how they enjoy solitude.


Sr. Miriam, Polish hermit-nun

The Aleteia website features an article on Sister Miriam of the Cross, a Polish Carmelite hermit-nun who has not spoken for 16 years. Sister Miriam writes of her silence in a universal way:

“Is not the vow of silence against human nature? I pose this question to myself, too. Without a doubt, silence is so hard for our nature, also for me. However, human social life is possible thanks to a certain dialectic of silence and speaking, contemplation and engagement, breaking free from worldly desires and enjoying the world, etc. Therefore, the role of silence in interpersonal communication, in relationships, seems crucial and actually necessary for obtaining some harmony. It is communication that takes place within the human spirit, where mindfulness, gentleness, attentiveness to the other, warmth, and respect originate. There is a close correlation between silence and speaking, as all is born out of silence.”


Dobre Dobrev, Bulgarian hermit

The website Balkan Insight features an article on a hermit who raised money for church projects and achieved enormous popularity.

Bulgaria is grieving over the death of the urban legend, hermit and church benefactor Dobre Dobrev, who passed away on Tuesday at the amazing age of 103. … Born in 1914 in the village of Bailovo, 43 kilometers east of Sofia, he was famous for his ascetic lifestyle, long white beard and stooping figure.


“Cloud of Unknowing”: film on Irish hermit

Mike Hannon is the director and producer of the forthcoming documentary film The Cloud of Unknowing, about a contemporary Irish hermit. An excerpt is available at Vimeo. Hannon comments on the film:

The Cloud of Unknowing is a nineteen minute documentary on a modern day hermit who dedicated his life to the mystical tradition of contemplative prayer. Rodney Thompson, a Cork man, spent almost thirty years in an isolated cottage in Connemara in pursuit of solitude, silence and prayer. Without electricity or running water, Mr Thompson lived simply, prayed ceaselessly and welcomed visitors to his hermitage close to Roundstone, Galway.

Filled with majestic vistas and robust Connemara weather, the film allows the viewer to step into the mind of a hermit, as the natural world unfolds at an unhurried pace.


Japan hikikomori survey

Several media items from Japan cover a proposed survey of hikikomori by the Japanese government’s Health, Labor, and Welfare Ministry. From Japan Times:

The government has allocated ¥20 million from the fiscal 2018 budget to finance research for Japan’s first nationwide survey on middle-aged hikikomori — people who have shut themselves in their homes.

The survey, to take place in fiscal 2018 starting April 1, will be held amid growing calls for public assistance to help aged parents take care of their jobless, financially dependent and socially withdrawn children.

The survey will cover 5,000 randomly selected households with members aged between 40 and 59, to identify the total number of middle-aged social recluses in Japan.

URL: (Japan Times); (Japan News); (

Introverts encouraged

A couple of introversion life-style pieces for a popular audience: “Living as an Introvert in an Extrovert World” in The Week addresses the social angle, while “Introverts, Hermits, And The Shy: Here’s Your Map To Success” in Forbes interviews a writer focused on jobs and careers.

Introverts will recognize the socializing issues immediately. The jogs and careers issues are more of a challenge. Since the 2012 appearance of the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain, a number of essays and articles have tried to “rehabilitate” introverts, to reassure them that they, too, can embrace the world of competition and claw their way to upward nobility. Usually this tact is addressed when discussing mental health like stress and burn-out and coping methods that poorly imitate meditation, and can be offensive. But more sensitive articles emphasize the existence of jobs that introverts actually like, occupations not quite as solitary as historically solitary jobs of lighthouse keepers or charcoal burners, of course. And that is the key. Introverts in occupations that highlight their mental or tactile skills versus their personality tip the perception of others favorably. But in the world of higher competition usually favored by magaines like Forbes, no safe advice is guaranteed.

URL: (The Week); (Forbes)