"Yin-Shi"----Hermits in China

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           Chinese hermits in Daoism

            What is hermit in China? In Chinese culture, hermit has existed for thousands of years. The common belief of this phenomenon is that it started the ancient time and it became popular around Spring and Autumn period, which was about 770 BC. In Chinese, hermit means 隐, and the first letter 隐 means hidden; the second word 士 means person. More precisely, the second letter, 士 means an educated person or official in the royal court. Some people even believe that the practice of hermit was the original practice and belief of Daoism, although some hermits believed Confucianism.

 


            Are there hermits nowadays? Yes, there are many hermits in China. For example, Zhongnan Mountain, a famous mountain in the North-West of China has been considered as one of the most popular places for those hermits to practice their way of living. It is said that there are about 5000 hermits in that region.


            The value of this kind of practice has been debated for thousand years. Many people support the choice made by those hermits. Meanwhile, some others criticize this type of irresponsible behavior. Some famous Daoism scholars and masters even clearly remind people that “you do not have to be a hermit in order to practice Daoism (Zhang Boduan, the founder of the Southern Daoism school). Because those who criticize this practice believed that practicing Daoism should not avoid their social and family responsibilities.


            I don’t want to criticize or support this kind of practice here. Instead, I would like to share this information with you regarding to this interesting phenomenon. Also, please bear in mind that you should not try to go to China in order to meet a hermit in person, because they will avoid meeting you for sure.

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