There is a Chinese saying that goes like this, “SiaoYin Yin Yuu Yei. JongYin Yin Yuu Shu. DaYin Yin Yuu Chaio.” The first sentence, “SiaoYin Yin Yuu Yei,” is “The small recluses need live in mountains and forests.” It describes people who can’t keep their minds peaceful. They are easily affected by their circumambience so they need to live in the mountains and forests to find a feeling of peace.
The second sentence, “JongYin Yin Yuu Shu,” is “The middle recluses can live downtown.” It describes people who can live in clamorous environments and still keep a peaceful mind.
The last sentence, “DaYin Yin Yuu Chaio,” is “The great recluses are in government.” It describes a person who has true wisdom and free spirit. They have great power but don’t get confused by it; rather they use it in service to people.
Sometimes I think the people who need to live at mountains then can have a peaceful life that not a real peaceful life.
There is also a story about hermits in the book “The Sayings of Zhuang-Zi: Book 2” (translated by Koh Kok Kiang, published by Asiapac Comic Series). It’s called “Recluses Who Don’t Live In Mountains”. “In the old days, those who were called reclusive Teachers did not necessarily seclude themselves in mountains or forests. If the conditions of the times had allowed them to act in the world on a great scale, they would have brought back the state of unity without any trace being perceived of how they did so. When those conditions shut them up entirely from such action, they struck their roots deeper in themselves, kept perfectly quiet and waited. It was thus that they preserved the Tao in their own persons without others knowing.”
I often heard people said that, “I have a lot of stress from my job so I need take a holiday. I need to go somewhere else to relax.” or “I need to go to the mountains to remove myself from people.” It seems that those people who have high-income jobs are especially prone to high stress. Sometimes I wonder if taking a vacation or avoiding people are truly helpful or if it is just an escape from reality? Where is a place that has no stress? Even when you take a vacation you have stress. For instance, when you’re at the airport and your flight is delayed or if you get stuck in a traffic jam on your way to the mountains, these all can cause stress too. Sometimes a person becomes more tired from travelling than they would have from the work. We’ve all heard, “Now I need a vacation to recover from my vacation!”
I ask you, who is better at meditation; a person who can only meditate in the mountains and someone who can meditate in a clamorous environment?
There is a saying from “Chai Gun Tan”, or “The Roots of Wisdom”, that tells us, “The peace that comes from peaceful surroundings is not true peace; only in the peace obtained in the midst of activity is found the true sphere of one’s original nature. The pleasure that comes from pleasurable surroundings is not true enjoyment; only with the joy obtained in the midst of suffering can one see the true movements of the mind.”