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By Patrick Leigh Fermor

ISBN-10: 1590172442

ISBN-13: 9781590172445

Whereas nonetheless undefined, Patrick Leigh Fermor made his approach throughout Europe, as mentioned in his vintage memoirs, A Time of Gifts and Between the Woods and the Water. in the course of international conflict II, he fought with neighborhood partisans opposed to the Nazi occupiers of Crete. yet in A Time to maintain Silence, Leigh Fermor writes a few extra inward trip, describing his a number of sojourns in a few of Europe’s oldest and such a lot venerable monasteries. He remains on the Abbey of St. Wandrille, an exceptional repository of artwork and studying; at Solesmes, well-known for its revival of Gregorian chant; and at the deeply ascetic Trappist monastery of los angeles Grande Trappe, the place clergymen take a vow of silence. ultimately, he visits the rock monasteries of Cappadocia, hewn from the stony spires of a moonlike panorama, the place he seeks a few hint of the lifetime of the earliest Christian anchorites.

More than a heritage or trip magazine, even though, this pretty brief publication is a meditation at the which means of silence and solitude for contemporary lifestyles. Leigh Fermor writes, “In the seclusion of a cell—an life whose quietness is just various through the silent foodstuff, the solemnity of formality, and lengthy solitary walks within the woods—the bothered waters of the brain develop nonetheless and transparent, and lots more and plenty that's hidden away and all that clouds it floats to the skin and will be skimmed away; and after a time one reaches a nation of peace that's unthought of within the traditional world.”

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It is an ekstasis, a “stepping outside” the confines of self. The ascetics of India have pursued the same goal and their way of life is remarkably similar to that of Christian monks. They designed the disciplines of yoga, for example, precisely to take the “I” out of their thinking. They thus acquired a new vision, finding that once it was no longer regarded self-referentially, even the humblest object revealed a numinous quality. Yogins train themselves to do the opposite of what comes naturally: they learn to sit without the motion that is a sign of life, as though they were statues or plants; they control their respiration, the most reflexive of our bodily functions; and they learn to curb the stream of restless thoughts that ceaselessly invade the human mind.

The period during which normal standards recede and the strange new world becomes reality is slow, and, at first, acutely painful. To begin with, I slept badly at night and fell asleep during the day, felt restless alone in my cell and depressed by the lack of alcohol, the disappearance of which had caused a sudden halt in the customary monsoon. The most remarkable preliminary symptoms were the variations of my need of sleep. After initial spells of insomnia, nightmare and falling asleep by day, I found that my capacity for sleep was becoming more and more remarkable: till the hours I spent in or on my bed vastly outnumbered the hours I spent awake; and my sleep was so profound that I might have been under the influence of some hypnotic drug.

In 1502 the blight of Commendation, an evil whose effects on monastic life of France were as drastic as the phylloxera that centuries later ravaged her vineyards, fell upon St. Wandrille. By this system commendatory abbots—courtiers who were never monks and often not even in holy orders—received abbeys and priories as rewards for service to the State or as the fruits of intrigue or nepotism, swallowing two-thirds of the monastic revenues, and seldom approaching their conventual fiefs nearer than Versailles.

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A Time to Keep Silence by Patrick Leigh Fermor


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