A life of contemplation

Lately, I’ve been thinking about what it would be like to go off someplace where I could live more simply; someplace away from the distractions of the ever-depressing news of the day and the energy sapping ego conflicts of the workplace.

I could spend my days contemplating the inherent nature of existence; I could immerse myself in the eternal flow of life. I would find my center and be at one with all things. You know, like St. Anthony (the ascetic) did.

For nearly forty years Anthony lived a hermetic existence in the desert existing on the rare crust of bread offered him by passing pilgrims. He rid himself of all desires of the flesh in the belief that through asceticism ultimate truth would be revealed to him.

There was one night, though, when hedonistic desires descended upon him like a torrential downpour. He wanted, wanted, wanted: good food, good drink and women of any sort. All night he suffered. He fought back with every ounce of his energy. When morning finally came Anthony was spent from the night’s exertions but was also strengthened in the knowledge he could overcome temptation. His commitment was renewed, but, with it, the fear of even greater tests to come.

I guess one has to assume, then, the contemplative life may not be wonderful all the time; I’ll definitely have to temper the ascetic part.  Still, I relish the possibilities, you know, developing some deeply profound insights. I may even enjoy an occasional hallucination.

temptation of St Anthony 5




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