The idea of the solitary meditator has played a significant role, certainly in the Indian religions. The recluse, the anchorite, the hermit, the rishi (P., ishi), all speak to the fact that solitude, in particular, inner solitude, is a prerequisite for profound, firsthand intuition.
It is important to understand that inner solitude is not simply a flight from the material world; rather this solitude is found to be necessary so that one can penetrate through the external fabric of the material world; no longer living in fear or being mesmerized by it. In a very real sense it is seen to be illusory.
The greatest of solitaries is the muni. He is Shakya-muni recognized as the Buddha or awakened one. The qualities of a muni are further explored in the Sutta-Nipata. The muni has reached the other shore (210). He has overcome all, who knows all (211). He wanders alone (213). He has perceived the highest truth (219). He meditates aloof in the jungle (221). He is one who is freed from name and body (namakaya) and cannot be determined (1074).
To be sure, the muni, i.e., the ecstatic man, has gone beyond the material plane of existence. He directly communes with spirit, which is beyond the nets of sensory consciousness.