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China's hermits seek a highway to heavenHis unheated hut is halfway up a mountain with no electricity, and his diet consists mostly of cabbage. Wang Gaofeng, 26, has a wispier beard than his master, and said he had quit a management-level job in China's vast railway system a year ago.Today's hermits are following a well-beaten historical path, and experts say quiet types have preferred to live alone in the mountains of China for more than 3,000 years.Taoism – loosely based on the writings of a mythical figure named Laozi who lived some 2,500 years ago – calls for an adherence to "the way," which practitioners have long interpreted as a return to the natural world.Unlike their Western equivalents, religiously inspired outsiders who often shunned society completely, China's mountain dwellers have historically been sought out by politicians. Nonetheless experts estimate several hundred hermits survived the period unscathed deep in the hills, with some even said to be unaware the Communists had taken power.Much of the hermit revival can be attributed to U.S. writer Bill Porter, who in the 1993 published the first book about the mountain dwellers.
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