the meanings of loneliness & withdrawal

Excellent piece on wildness, retreat & withdrawal, balancing activism, and more …

Forty Days (from global oneness project)

Paul Kingsnorth urges us to contemplate the productive meanings of loneliness and withdrawal. He explains and reinterprets his childhood dreams of withdrawal from the modern world as an active quest and implores that retreating into wilderness is a necessity for change.

This piece gets at something important for LP. While LP may not qualify as wilderness, our understanding of ‘forest practice’ involves a fair amount of wildness. We’re comfortable letting lots of the woods and fields be wild. Letting the ecosystems self-manage while we learn how to participate instead of calling shots. The unlearning curve is steep.

The ‘Park’ of our name doesn’t mean manicured. It refers back to the arama of the Buddha’s time, the groves where wandering spiritual seekers stayed on the outskirts of towns. It’s not possible to know how they were maintained and Buddhist traditions have interpreted that distant past through the lenses and biases of each time, place, and culture.

We don’t need to alter or manage much here, if at all. Managed ‘nature’ isn’t the refuge from human egoism that wildness is. Will try to say a little more about this in the LP article I’m working on.

Another subject touched on is the reactions of activists to his ‘Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist’ from a few years ago. Those reactions sounded a lot like what I heard in Asia in the 90s when exploring religion & spirituality w/ a broad range of activists. What then seemed to be a Marxist influence, were attitudes that one had to be totally dedicated to the cause and didn’t have time for soft stuff like spirituality. (Ur, the same activists had plenty of time for drinking, internal power plays, and even shopping trips around Bangkok’s malls.) In retrospect, rather than Marxist, this may just have been ideology, that is, what Buddhism calls ‘clinging to views.’

I’m all for liberative action and creative karmayoga. Liberating social action from clinging to views, especially the grossest forms, which tend towards violence, is part of action being liberative.

What are we saving the world for if we don’t know how to live in it now, today?

Best wishes dear ones!

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