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Ego-Centricity of Self-Search and Lack Thereof

“Becoming and being have no relationship with each other, they move in entirely different directions,” asserts J. Krishnamurti in “Asceticism and Total Being.”  Indeed.

Becoming and Being are as different as Anchorites and Eremites.  An anchorite was a devout believer who allowed him/her-self to be bricked over - for life –in a small cell adjacent to the church.  An anchorite – in devotion – would become a living spiritual anchor, a breathing coordinate of worship.  The ceremonial walling off was tantamount to the end of the spiritual journey.   An anchorite’s mind was made: he became his faith.  The search was over, the conclusions were finalized, and one’s spiritual place – literally – was found.  

An eremite too separated himself from the world at large as he spent his time in the solitude of his hermitage.  But unlike an anchorite, an eremite had no need to box oneself off inside brick-and-mortar concreteness of one’s conclusions.  The door of the mind was left ajar… to the world of impermanence.   An eremite escaped the social world to avoid the need to arrive at a conclusion, to avoid the pressure to commit to “this” or “that,” to side-step the existential trap of “becoming.”  Out in the desert of one’s mind, un-chaperoned by social mores and censorship, an eremite was interested in just being.

Becoming is a life-long slow-motion approximation of an end point.  It’s a way of living in which Being per se is but a means to “being this” or “being that.”  Being is a way of living in which Being is an end in and of itself.  An Anchorite becomes an anchor, an Eremite remains a sail.  And these two – Anchor and Sail – do, indeed, “move in entirely different directions.”  An Anchor – in all the gravity of its pseudo-objective conclusions - moves down while a Sail moves along, a-long a subjectively endless line of existence.

Thus, an Anchorite is but a model Ascetic who reduced the totality of one's Being to being what one has become; an insecure mind – who in fear of one’s own winds of change – has cast an anchor of permanence in the foundation of a given church.  An Anchorite is a showman of humility that rents his abode in the Center of the Official Faith.  An Eremite, in contrast, is a Passat of Consciousness, an easterly trade wind that raises ghostly columns of time’s quicksand in un-witnessed spiritual deserts, unafraid to be the Center of its own existential vortex.

“In the stillness of being, the past as the watcher, as the experience, is not.  There is no activity of time.  It’s not the remembrance that is communicating, but the actual movement itself – the movement of silence into the measureless.  It’s a movement that does not start from a center, that does not go from one point to another; it has no center, no observer.  It’s a journey of total being <…> In this journey of the whole, there is no point of departure and no point of arrival.”

An Anchorite – be he of a medieval  kind or of a contemporary sort – seeks from a conclusion (instead of arrving at one).  An Eremite – be he the first Cynic, Diogenes of Synope, or an East-West broker Gurdjeff, the “rascal sage,” or the first American pilgrim, Jack Kerouac, - is more interested in staying on the road of self-discovery rather than in arriving at any particular Self…


Pavel Somov, Ph.D.

Copyright, 2008

J. Krishnamurti: Commentaries on Living, 3d Series, p. 289