散文翻译:林巍·《独处是一种能力》

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摘要

Practising Solitude Requires Special Ability

林巍《独处的能力》英语版

独处是一种能力

林巍

 

随着科技的迅猛发展,人们的交往、信息的传递变得异常便利,这固然是社会的进步。但也有副作用,那便是使独处似乎越来越难了。

 

电脑、电视等,特别是手机已经成为现代人须臾不可离开的工具,它们简直革命化了人们之间的交往形式。离开了这些,有的人会发慌,不知道该做什么。人们曾经渴望独立,但现在又怕被孤立。过去认为,人的社交是一种能力,可如今发现独处其实需要更强的能力。

 

试想,一个现在要想完全地静下来,需要克服多少来自各方信息的干扰!说“干扰”并不准确,因为它们好像又确实有用。这就需要能力——判断、平衡、处理、自制的能力。

 

作为社会的人,交往和独处是两种不可或缺的生活方式。正如身体需要不断摄取能量,人的精神层面也需新信息的不断补充;但信息不等于知识、思想和情感,它需要沉淀下来,慢慢地被转化和整合,而这些不是在乱哄哄的社交而是在静静的独处中完成的。在西方,人们相信“灵魂在寂静中成长”;在中国,孔子“吾日三省吾身”方成圣人。

 

这种转化和整合的过程,是在已有的与未有的知识和情感之间建立联结,形成增长。故在这个意义上讲,一个人的独处能力,也决定了其能否有所长进。

 

世界三大宗教的创立,都是在独处中完成的;释迦摩尼独自离家后,在雅那河畔的菩提下数日冥想,然后大彻成佛;耶稣一人在旷野里思索了四十天,然后向世人宣布了救世的好消息;穆罕默德每年斋月期间,都要去洞窟里隐居。同样,许多艺术上的杰作也是在孤独中诞生的。

 

在西方,独处又往往是与亲近大自然联系在一起的。例如,“真正的英国不在喧闹的城市而在僻静的乡村。”

 

独处并不等于孤独;这是两个性质不同的概念。一个人可以在看似热闹的社交中很孤独,也可以在平静的独处中很丰富——从各个方面丰富、充实自己。“孤独的丰富”是一种理想的高尚境界。

 

其实,无论是在中国还是西方,“德不孤,必有邻”(孔子语),“善思者虽独不孤”(英文谚语),他们自有内在的人格魅力。而且,在两个丰富、充实灵魂之间的交流,才会是更有质量的交往。

 

所以,要不断体验深层次的阅读、思索与感受,就不能不培养和提高自己的独处能力。

Practising Solitude Requires Special Ability

Lin Wei

 

The rapid advance of technology has made communication and transmission of data among people extremely convenient. But social progression of this kind nevertheless has “side-effect” – solitude is increasingly becoming something that is hard to attain.

 

Computers, television and especially smart phones have revolutionized the way people communicate, becoming their most intimate companions. Some may panic when they are deprived of these things. People used to long for independence but now deeply fear alienation; social intercourse was regarded as a special competence, which has now been overshadowed by the ability to be alone.

 

Just think how hard it is now for a person to settle down completely – he or she has to surmount interruptions from all sorts of information emitted from various sources. “Interruption” as used here may not be the right word, since the information it brings in may sometimes be useful. Judgement, a balanced approach, appropriate handling and self-control are thus sorely needed.

 

As a social being, humans need both social intercourse and solitude, just as the body and mind require physical as well as spiritual energies and inputs. In terms of mentality, however, for information to be transformed and integrated into knowledge, thoughts and feelings as something of one’s own, serenity instead of bustle seems to be the right condition. In the Western tradition, it is believed that “the soul grows in tranquility”; in China, Confucius’ “repeated introspection on a daily basis” made him a saint.

 

The process of transformation and integration is achieved by establishing connections between the knowledge and sentiments one already acquired with those newly received, which results in growth. In this sense, the capacity for solitude determines how well one can continuously mature in society.

 

The three largest world religions were actually all established in solitude: Sakyamuni left home alone and meditated several days under banyan trees by the Yarra River before his great awakening produced Buddhism; Jesus contemplated in the wilderness for forty days and then declared the good news of salvation for the world; Mohammed lived in seclusion in caves during his Ramadan. Similarly, many artistic masterpieces of the world were produced in solitude.

 

In the West, solitude is also deemed to put people in contact with nature. For example, as the saying goes, “The real character of England lies not in the flamboyant cities but in its quiet countryside”.

 

Being alone doesn’t have to be lonely – these are two different things. One may feel lonely in boisterous social contexts, or be fulfilled in isolated serenity. Thus, being able to enrich oneself calmly and live in “solitary richness” is a noble state one can only dream of.

 

In today’s overcrowded world (both in China and in the West), “Virtue does not remain isolated” (Confucius), “He is never alone who is accompanied by noble thoughts” (English proverb) – personal charisma ultimately radiates out to attract others, and interactions between two abundant minds usually breed something more meaningful.

 

In this way, anyone wishing to enjoy in-depth reading, insightful thinking and a meaningful sense of feeling has to nurture and exercise an ability to practice solitude.

 

(林巍  译)

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