Michael Mendizza

Writer, Filmmaker

Hermit Gifts


identity, intelligence

I met Steve Roberts in 1994, researching and directing a feature documentary on the life of Paramhansa Yoganand, best know as the author of ‘Autobiography of a Yogi,’ and Founder of Self Realization Fellowship. Steve’s logo tells the story.

His book, ‘Mirror Man, A metaphysical adventure in the spirit of the universe: Playful Loving Deep,’ was written by a man who champions the most fear-provoking point of view the world has ever known: Everything is a gift and the business of life is discovering how come. This morning Steve shared insights that are especially rich. I thought you might appreciate his inspiring vision. m

Hermit Gifts

Steve Roberts

There are two reasons, I suspect, why I keep a distance from the world in almost whatever form it appears. Well, other than the offerings of saints, nature, art, fellow travelers who know they’re on the inner road to everywhere, and anyone standing in front of me I can serve in the moment.

One, I aspire to think only of God, and my ability to do so leaves much to be desired without a lot of solitude.

Two, the infection of ego sensibilities that ground the reality of most of us, including myself amusingly enough, is a sort of psychological Covid that’s been around forever it seems. It is a communicable global illness that spans generations and is born of the delusion that fitting into society provides more security than following our heart.

Our collective focus on engagement with the world overshadows growing our capacity for kindness, compassion and that especially gnarly and rewarding of adventures, self-understanding. Our answers to essential questions such as who am I, what is the purpose of life, and how does does the universe work?—remain too fragile to foster a peaceful heart in the face of anything. It is a factor that undermines feeling the joy of spiritual awakening inherent in every moment.

On my better days, it’s easy for me to cherish all who cross my path. I don’t have to admire a single thing they think or feel or do in order to honor their True Self: manifestation of God, ever evolving Oneness. I will serve anyone on Earth (and elsewhere should that materialize) in any way I possibly can in the spirit of unconditional love that I find to be the essence of existence.

At the same time, in recognition of my own frailties at this point in my soul’s flight to freedom, often I feel obliged to distance myself from energetic forces that, to me, embody smallness or denseness rather than limitless expansion. Simplistically, this means the world at large.

This is why my engagement with others can be circumspect. To have an opinion about anything that is not rooted in the premise that every moment is an opportunity to grow love is a phenomenon I keep a healthful distance from in my efforts to train my mind to see the sacredness of everything. It’s hard enough keeping my distance from it in my own consciousness, with its abundance of questionable habits.

And then there’s what may be the deadliest of human addictions: holding others or some event responsible for how we feel, a dysfunction easily exacerbated by all but the rarest of interactions with the worldly-world.

So while I love the entire phantasmagoria of humanity, I engage in respectful self-care. Not in response to others, per se, whom I find sacred to a person, but from certain beliefs or points of view. In essence, from the commonly-held delusion that we are human rather than a soul, and that our human adventures are something other than spiritual school that leads us to the realization of our True Self.

This is why I crave distance and aloneness in whatever form circumstance allows. It strengthens my ability to be useful to the world, and nurtures my attunement to that supreme celebration of existence that is the reason we’re all here so far as I can tell.

Steve: the mind that is infected by thought and its ego only sees itself. There is a different mind, a silent mind, that experiences the sacred in everything. You call this experience God. Thomas Berry described this direct, silent experience, as immenence. The Hermit’s Gift isn’t hiding in a cave, though that may have temporary benefits. It is renewing, or returning again and again, to this highly sensitive, entangled-empathic, silent mind anytime or any place. Our challenge is to live in this silence and use thought as a tool when needed, then let it to, expanding our presence to embrace immenence with its boundless intelligence. m

The Hermit Tarot Card
The Hermit depicts an old man standing alone at the peak of the mountain while holding a lantern in one of his hands and a staff on the other. The mountain denotes accomplishment, development, and success. The hermit tarot card refers to the level of spiritual knowledge that he attained, and that he is ready to impart that knowledge to everyone. There is also a deep commitment he has to his goal and a solid awareness of the path that he is taking. Inside the lantern, you will notice a star with 6 points which is also known as the Seal of Solomon. This symbol represents wisdom. The staff that he holds depicts authority and power.

The Hermit is a seeker for the knowledge that comes from within. A lonely wanderer in the path of the night, he searches for that which can only be gained with long periods of solitude – the inner voice. To hear it, he must disconnect from the crowds whose voices and desires threaten to overcome his own. He walks through the dark night of his unconscious, guided only by the low light of the northern star, with his destination being his home, his self. He walks through the dark night of his unconscious, guided only by the low light of the northern star, with his destination being his home, his self.