In some of the older strata of the Buddha's discourses such as the Khaggavisâna Sutta of the Sutt-Nipâta the serious adept lives alone, away from the madding crowd, so to speak. The adept is not with a group of fellow monks. He has fear in intimacy (37). He is free from entanglement like the new bamboo shoot (38). The adept is like the forest deer who roams and feeds at its leisure (39).
To be sure it is difficult to get attached to mountain streams, trees, rocks and such solitude. There are no things to delight and upset the mind by their illusions (50). The Buddha says that even temporary deliverance is impossible to anyone who is fond of society (54).
With such solitude and contemplation (P., jhâna; S., dhyâna) deliverance is possible. In my case, solitude was quite effective (my nearest neighbor was more than six miles away), especially, when you find it necessary to devote yourself to realizing pure Mind. You can’t afford to be encumbered with anything that tends to affect your search.
At times I found more of a help to walk five to ten miles in the woods. The sense of solitude was overwhelming at times. When I got back from my walk I would write poems almost as prayers expressing my hope to awaken to pure Mind. As strange as it might sound, living in solitude with nature is an emptying out process. You are forced to face a lot of silences; even hear the buzzing of your brain and your heartbeat.
Helping matters, and important, I read Blofeld’s The Zen Teaching of Huang Po and D.T. Suzuki’s Lankavatara Sutra. There were, of course other books I read. But since my search was for pure Mind, I found these books very helpful. I was still at the level where I thought I could find a reasonable answer to what pure Mind was. Little did I know, and I have mentioned this in previous blogs, I had to go to my wit’s end. I had to exhaust, thoroughly, my clever schemes for figuring out pure Mind. It is only in the stillest of all still moments that your old monkey mind stops. Then, in one finger-snap you see it: an immaculate reality. Then your body begins to fill with a mysterious luminosity. It grows and grows for hours. It is like you are being raised to another level of being.
Looking back over those years I gained the ability to plug into Mind which I did over and over again. Then in 1976 I saw what it was all about. Call them Buddhas or super beings, with this ability to plug into Mind they came. There was actually a moment I can vividly remember when this deity told me, “Show me what you know.” In a split second, I went to Mind, Bingo! My body filled with an incredible amount of luminosity. I had entered on a most sublime and mysterious path that Westerners would not believe—but it was absolutely real—and it was only the beginning. This is when I learned what Buddhism really was.