Sutta Study Discussion Theme 2-4-17
From Craving to Liberation, From Grasping to Emptiness: Excursions into the Thought-World of the Pali Discourses by Bhikkhu Analayo,
Chapter 21 Seclusion/Viveka
To be read out loud:
First three paragraphs page 260
Last three paragraphs page 263
Section 21.3 in its entirety
“The secluded living style of the Buddha was a natural expression of his realization, so much so that the two thoughts a Tathagata frequently has in his mind are thoughts of peace and of seclusion (It 31). In fact, to live a secluded lifestyle is, according to one Sutta, a characteristic of all those who have reached awakening (DN III 54).” p. 259
In this chapter Venerable Analayo describes three types of seclusion, living alone, silence, and mental seclusion. The first two are grosser expressions in the service of realizing the third, a mind that is secluded from all torments or agitating tendencies. It might seem that these three trainings are something that only monastics would do. Let’s consider what it would look like, as lay people, to undertake each of these three trainings? Often it seems easier to take up practices of seclusion in an intense way for a short time, as we do when we go on retreat. More interestingly, how can we learn to appreciate and value these three expressions of seclusion in a daily way so that it gradually becomes the habit of the mind in all circumstances.
Can we imagine and then aspire to a mind that, moment to moment, naturally releases any attachment to experience that might draw it out into reactive states, until something arises that evokes a generous, compassionate, appropriate, and energetic/joyful engagement with the circumstances of the moment. As soon as this flow of engagement has expressed itself fully, the mind would once again express its inner contentment and release any hold experience or thought has on the mind.