Secluded meditation guides him who meditates.
In order to maximize the benefits of meditation, one must minimize external distractions by practicing in a secluded place. Once a practitioner advances and has achieved a higher level of meditation, there is no need to practice in a secluded place because the power of external distractions has dissipated. However, until one achieves that level of practice, seclusion is a good support for beginning meditators.
To illustrate, imagine the beginner’s mind as a battlefield disturbed by afflictive emotions and assailed by inner and outer distractions. Practicing in secluded habitats provides great benefit for the meditator because external distractions are minimized. Without these distractions, the meditator can experience the physical serenity of the secluded environment, which assists in calming the mind while bringing about peace and harmony.
When ordinary people are out in the world with all of its distractions, it is difficult at best for them to make decisions that are good and sound, decisions that are guided by what is truly most beneficial for all concerned. Decisions made in the world of distractions are frequently based on the distractions themselves.
However, when we spend some time in meditation, away from these distractions, and experience moments of peace and harmony, we come closer to the basic goodness that is the actual core of our being. Slowly, the more time we spend in this calm abiding state, the more our connection with this basic goodness strengthens. Then, when we are beset by the myriad distractions of the mundane world, we can be guided by our core, this basic goodness. It is then that we become able to make decisions and act in ways that are aimed in the direction of always benefiting beings in the best possible way, in every circumstance.
From Stillness, Insight, and Emptiness by Lama Dudjom Dorjee, © 2013 by Lama Dudjom Dorjee. Reprinted by arrangement with Shambhala Publications, Inc. Boston, MA.
[This article was first published in 2016.]