The Art of Stillness and The Meaning of Being

Pico Iyer forwarded one of my all time favourite books “The Snow Leopard” written by the recently deceased Peter Matthiesson. Being a committed meditator I love books that have something of a deeper reflective way and being a world traveller of a sort I love travel books. The “Snow Leopard” is a wonderful book and a mixture of both as is Pico Iyer,s writing.
In the forward of the “The Snow Leopard” Iyer indicates that he has been reading the book for twenty-five years and that every time that he reads it he receives a “different light” the book is about the writer Matthiessen,s journey in the company of zoologist George Schaller who head out on a hike that would take them 250 miles into the heart of the Himalayan region of Dolpo, “the last enclave of pure Tibetan culture on earth.” Their voyage was in quest of one of the world’s most elusive big cats, the snow leopard of high Asia, a creature so rarely spotted as to be nearly mythical; Schaller was one of only two Westerners known to have seen a snow leopard in the wild since 1950. “What began as a practical search for the rare snow leopard, revered Buddhist emblem, developed into a quest for the meaning of Being.
I have also just finished reading Pico Iyers book ” The Art of Stillness” and have included the Amazon review here.
A follow-up to Pico Iyer’s essay “The Joy of Quiet,” The Art of Stillness considers the unexpected adventure of staying put and reveals a counterintuitive truth: The more ways we have to connect, the more we seem desperate to unplug.
Why might a lifelong traveler like Pico Iyer, who has journeyed from Easter Island to Ethiopia, Cuba to Kathmandu, think that sitting quietly in a room might be the ultimate adventure? Because in our madly accelerating world, our lives are crowded, chaotic and noisy. There’s never been a greater need to slow down, tune out and give ourselves permission to be still.
In The Art of Stillness—a TED Books release—Iyer investigate the lives of people who have made a life seeking stillness: from Matthieu Ricard, a Frenchman with a PhD in molecular biology who left a promising scientific career to become a Tibetan monk, to revered singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen, who traded the pleasures of the senses for several years of living the near-silent life of meditation as a Zen monk. Iyer also draws on his own experiences as a travel writer to explore why advances in technology are making us more likely to retreat. He reflects that this is perhaps the reason why many people—even those with no religious commitment—seem to be turning to yoga, or meditation, or seeking silent retreats. These aren’t New Age fads so much as ways to rediscover the wisdom of an earlier age. Growing trends like observing an “Internet Sabbath”—turning off online connections from Friday night to Monday morning—highlight how increasingly desperate many of us are to unplug and bring stillness into our lives.

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