Thursday, 30 July 2015

Oomawari - the big round trip. Lake Biwa, Mountains and the Stoics on 'retreats'

“Men seek retreats for themselves, houses in the country, sea-shores, and mountains; and thou too art wont to desire such things very much. But this is altogether a mark of the most common sort of men, for it is in thy power whenever thou shalt choose to retire into thyself. 
― Marcus Aurelius, The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius


The idea of Oomawari is that you can by a one stop ticket with JR (Japanese Rail) and go all over the network, eventually ending up one stop from where you started.

Yesterday I headed off from my local station, went up to Osaka Central, Kyoto, Otsu, around the lake and back down to Osaka and the next stop from me on a 120 yen ticket.

Along the way I found the place I've been looking for, where I would like to live perhaps in Japan, Shiga, in Shiga prefecture, a small town squeezed between the mountains and the great lake.

I spent some time in Switzerland many years ago and the mountains have been calling me back ever since. 

Marcus has a lot to say about mountains and the call of retreat.








 "For nowhere either with more quiet or more freedom from trouble does a man retire than into his own soul, particularly when he has within him such thoughts that by looking into them he is immediately in perfect tranquility; and I affirm that tranquility is nothing else than the good ordering of the mind". 

― Marcus Aurelius, The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius





Constantly then give to thyself this retreat, and renew thyself; and let thy principles be brief and fundamental, which, as soon as thou shalt recur to them, will be sufficient to cleanse the soul completely, and to send thee back free from all discontent with the things to which thou returnest.

― Marcus Aurelius, The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius




Quotes above in context

“Men seek retreats for themselves, houses in the country, sea-shores, and mountains; and thou too art wont to desire such things very much.

But this is altogether a mark of the most common sort of men, for it is in thy power whenever thou shalt choose to retire into thyself.

For nowhere either with more quiet or more freedom from trouble does a man retire than into his own soul, particularly when he has within him such thoughts that by looking into them he is immediately in perfect tranquility; and I affirm that tranquility is nothing else than the good ordering of the mind.

Constantly then give to thyself this retreat, and renew thyself; and let thy principles be brief and fundamental, which, as soon as thou shalt recur to them, will be sufficient to cleanse the soul completely, and to send thee back free from all discontent with the things to which thou returnest.

For with what art thou discontented? With the badness of men?

Recall to thy mind this conclusion, that rational animals exist for one another, and that to endure is a part of justice, and that men do wrong involuntarily; and consider how many already, after mutual enmity, suspicion, hatred, and fighting, have been stretched dead, reduced to ashes; and be quiet at last.

- But perhaps thou art dissatisfied with that which is assigned to thee out of the universe.

- Recall to thy recollection this alternative; either there is providence or atoms, fortuitous concurrence of things; or remember the arguments by which it has been proved that the world is a kind of political community, and be quiet at last.-

But perhaps corporeal things will still fasten upon thee.

- Consider then further that the mind mingles not with the breath, whether moving gently or violently, when it has once drawn itself apart and discovered its own power, and think also of all that thou hast heard and assented to about pain and pleasure, and be quiet at last.

- But perhaps the desire of the thing called fame will torment thee.

- See how soon everything is forgotten, and look at the chaos of infinite time on each side of the present, and the emptiness of applause, and the changeableness and want of judgement in those who pretend to give praise, and the narrowness of the space within which it is circumscribed, and be quiet at last. For the whole earth is a point, and how small a nook in it is this thy dwelling, and how few are there in it, and what kind of people are they who will praise thee.”

― Marcus Aurelius, The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius




All night long 
the Coyotes howled from the mountains of the moon

sending all timid men into closed doors of peace 
and solitude

and still the snow capped peaks 
reached for the stars.

laying alone, 
heart cold as stone
a mountain came to me....

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Anthony for this post. I could use some more if you have the time.

    ReplyDelete