Last Sunday I had what I like to call a hermit day. I spent the day quietly, alternating meditation and reading periods with simple meals and cups of tea. I meditated in the Kanzeon shrine, which gave me a bit more of a sense of detaching from my usual activities. The weather was warm and sunny and I drank my cups of tea sitting outside watching the wildlife. I made no phone calls, didn’t switch on my computer or iPad.
I even resisted the temptation to switch the computer on to look up the iridescent blue damselflies that appeared around the lake, though I looked them up the following day to confirm what they are. (This picture is downloaded from the web.)
The book I chose to read was Realising Genjokoan by Shohaku Okumura. I find reading Great Master Dogen to be quite challenging and this commentary on one of the best known chapters of Dogen’s Shobogenzo is an extremely helpful way in. I read the first few chapters over the course of the day, not reading for longer than 45mins at a time. Referring to this commentary in the foreword Taigen Dan Leighton says “…the point of such writing, as Dogen specifically delineates in some of his essays, is the encouragement and refining of practice, rather than propounding theoretical philosophical positions.” So I read this book in the spirit of allowing it to inspire me and not worrying too much about grasping the meaning of every sentence.
I think I will plan to make hermit days a more regular feature of my life here at the Hermitage.