Being a Buddhist Hermit

A hermit is, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, "a person living in solitude as a religious discipline." 

A Buddhist hermit practices the spiritual disciplined of silence, solitude, simplicity, moderation, meditation, and mindfulness.

It is implied that that a hermit is celibate. For a Buddhist this is the normal culmination of the path to non-attachment. Sexual indulgence and Nirvana are mutually incompatible.

A hermit is almost a monk. They are halfway between a layperson and a monk. They both practice celibacy, solitude, moderation, minimalism and focus on deepening one's spiritual practice. But hermits handle money and do not follow all the rules of ordained monks. 

And since hermits are not part of a group, they cannot be kicked out for breaking the rules. Forever hermit as sexual relations hr or she is still a hermit, just not a good one.

I would suggest that vegan Buddhist hermits have their own version of the five precepts. These precepts are guidelines for practice, not vows. Breaking them results in karma not expulsion from the Sangha. The Hermit is completely responsible for himself.

Here are the five precepts I personally follow:

1. I undertake the precept to refrain from killing,  harming, or eating sentient beings.

2. I undertake the precept to refrain from taking that which is not given.

3. I undertake the precept to refrain from sexual activity.

4. I undertake the precept to refrain from false speech.

5. I undertake the precept to refrain from intoxicating drinks and drugs which lead to heedlessness.

The first precept adds abstinence from eating sentient beings. This requires vegetarianism, not necessarily veganism. However, I am a vegan.

The third precept is to abstain from sexual activity. This is the same precept as for monks. All the rest are the same as for a lay Buddhist. So the only two additions for a vegan hermit are vegetarianism and celibacy. 

Anagārika Jay

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