Solitary Anagarika?

Solitude doesn’t always mean the same thing as letting go or dispassion (viraga). Peace of mind and calm isn’t the same thing as not being attached to the five aggregates. Being peaceful in a natural setting one is still in samsara but letting go of the aggregates is the final common path to Nibbana. The former is Samatha and the latter, vipassana. Both are essential.

As a lay person not following the Vinaya, I am conscious of the effects of what I do are having on my state of mind. That is I make my guidance as I go. If I’m tired or sleepy, when I shouldn’t be, I partake in entertainment to increase my energy and ‘brightness’ of the mind. I’m mindful whether there is agitation to watch something as to me this is a good indication that it is craving that wants to watch. The Buddha asked us to balance the enlightenment factors with mindfulness. I use whatever I have at hand to bring my mind to a positive state (while keeping the precepts I have taken).

There’s almost something to be said for taking precepts one is comfortable keeping… I assume the inner mental state of abstinence is more important than the ‘oath’. The essential 7 precepts are the 3 action and 4 speech ‘precepts’ in the Noble Eightfold Path I suppose. Any more would be great and likely to be beneficial.

With metta


I have experienced this too. Any kinds of shows (or books) with violence, fowl language, arguing, etc. seem to make me “cringe” and I just can’t watch.

This seems like a practical approach to me. Trying not to engage in things that are just a waste of time and are incongruous with the dhamma.

I agree!

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I have found this to be true in my experience as well.

I had seen this video some time ago but went back and watched the section with Ajahn Nissarano. It was very helpful. I liked how he described the calling for full-time practice as being pushed from behind by suffering while being pulled forward by happiness. The story of the monk who has lived alone in the forest for 40 years is quite inspirational for those seeking solitude. He says that the good part is being able to see into your own mind without many distractions and the bad part is that you can get stuck in your ways and lose perspective. Certainly something to be careful of.

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Great advice! And the examples you give are very helpful.

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Very good example! I think that type of agitation is a great indicator to watch for.

I think so too. To be mindful of the effects that the rule is causing rather than just blindly focusing on the rule itself.


I just thought I’d give a little update in this topic of Solitary practice. Since writing in this topic I’ve made substantial moves to increase solitude, and have 95% let go of the householders life. Since my previous post here, I gave away/threw out and packed up my house closing it down. I Have a small van and a tent, and took just enough stuff to sustain a simple life. And drove away, with no need to return :slight_smile:

(this gave me some insight into just what an amazing act complete renunciation is - the experience in giving away everything as a monastic - even though I have retained ownership of my property, so I can go back…)

While I had all the solitude I wanted for practice, I’ve just felt increasingly burdened by being responsible for even small decisions regarding the house and farm, and even the modest entanglements with local affairs etc. So to this end I thought I’d try an experiment - and just walk away.

It has been 3 weeks so far as I travel further from civilisation and into a more remote region in Western Australia. My intention is to find a remote and secluded place in the outback and just be.

It is proving to be a really interesting and worthwhile journey so far, from a practice perspective. In particular self view/identity has come into stark focus … all the myriad of ‘things’ that defined oneself. Possessions being clearly identified as what is necessary and what is desired. Additionally the dropping away of entanglements has been wonderfully freeing…

Also with no time frames of any kind, it is so much simpler to just be. This was my primary aim for this ‘experiment’ - to just be - no past, no future - just be.

As soon as I make a committment to be somewhere at a particular time - I find that the present moment is compromised. I’m on the outskirts of a township at the moment, and have internet, so have spent some time back at D&D :slight_smile:

I don’t know if this post, and this experiment, are of use or interest to any-one, or even belong on this forum, which is focused more on scholarship than practice. So @moderators please feel free to delete as appropriate.

Loneliness of the long distance Dhamma practitioner


How wonderful, Mara! I wish you all the best in your renunciation.

I just bought an older van two weeks ago and have been working to get it ready for long term travels. Hopefully the causes and conditions will arise for me to do this full-time as well.

Thank you for the update! :heart:


Wow, I hope the causes and conditions come into play for you too! :smiley:

Thank-you for the kind wishes :anjal::dharmawheel::smiley:


It sounds like your experiment is bearing great fruit, anumodana! I hope to bring about the circumstances to do something similar myself one day.

On the subject of vans, this is an interesting site about making a DIY van/RV sort of thing, a “campervan”:


I have a VW used van that had seating for 7. However I consciously made the decision NOT to have a converted camper van, I simply took the passenger seats out.

Because my primary aim is practice and not holiday, everything is exceedingly simple. I have a simple raised bed, which can be moved into the tent. All my things are stored in plastic crates under the bed. Water is in storage containers, as is food. I have no cooking facilities and no power source, except for some recharging from the car battery while driving. Eg Phone.

The reason for this is to keep it simple and to keep mindful about the purpose of the journey. Some of the set-ups I have seen look like ultra luxury mobile hotel suites. That is the opposite of what I’m looking for.

I just wanted to make it clear that this is totally about practice - and a lot of thought and preparation has gone into it. I already consider this to be “luxurious” - but given my age and health issues, as well as being a bit more vulnerable as a female, I decided that overall this set up was the best compromise. Otherwise I could see myself doing this with a backpack -

The other part of this, that distinguishes it from ‘a trip/holiday’ is that I have made sure that I have no unfinished business with anyone - ie being reconciled to an unknown future with no guarantees of meeting again (including my family). Generally, this has been my approach in all dealings for more than 10 years - but very consciously entered into at this juncture, and an interesting process to let go of all existing relationships .

Ensuring that ones interactions with others generate no regrets, is an interesting exercise for anyone looking to let go of the past in a daily practice. At first it takes a while (great for limiting ego), but then it becomes automatic. I also find it very useful as a tool to help guide right speech and right action - ie no regrets about ones behaviour that need attention. I am very far from perfect, but this approach has helped me a lot :slight_smile:

Thanks for the feedback.

May all beings be free from suffering


I hope it won’t be deleted! It is very inspiring to read your experiment and story, thank you very much for sharing. :anjal:

For me this is part of what unentangling the tangle is about. Social relationships are the tangle: one has to give news to friends and family, call them, visit them once in a while, go to weddings and birthday parties… just to be able to maintain these relationships, what a burden. Being close to no one but impartial to all and harming none, that’s how I understand the arahant ideal (presently at least… I’m certainly wrong). Not necessarily an easy thing to achieve though! :smile:


Taking care of the vehicles (van, body, even “the experiment” as if it were a thing, for the purpose of the Path. Unburdening but mindful, simple, supportive of practice. :slight_smile: Thank you for sharing, it is helpful for me and it seems others.


Conclusion of the experiment.

Firstly I have a name change :slight_smile: from mpac to Viveka.

I’ve returned home, earlier than expected, but feeling that my ‘mission’ has been accomplished.

While I view the experience as successful, the outcomes are absolutely not what I expected. What I have observed and learned include the following;

  • While the details might vary, decision making is part of human existence and can’t be avoided. It is only the nature of decisions that changes with the context.

  • Craving a more peaceful existence is still craving. In my case it became clear that it was based on fantasy, imagining that it would be easier in other circumstances. What I found was that chasing an ideal, thinking that the “grass was greener” somewhere else was just a sneaky hindrance to following the path. It turned out that I just swapped one set of challenges for another.

  • I now realise that the most beneficial place for me to follow the path is actually continuing in my seclusion at my home > though with heightened awareness of what I can and can’t adapt, in order to be more diligent in practice. It has also highlighted, that “perfect conditions” are impossible! This is samsara!! And to imagine and crave for this is not useful !!! :rofl::upside_down_face::crazy_face: For this reason alone, I am thankful for my experiences while in the ‘experiment’. :smiley:

Wishing you peace, metta and contentment :slight_smile:



I was lucky enough to spend some time at Bodhinyana, during my journey. I’d like to pass on something that Ajahn Brahm reflected on in a dhamma talk, while I was there.

He said that too often we focus on all the things that still need to be done… looking forward - even finding fault with not having worked hard enough or attained enough. That this is not very useful. As a balance, one needs to look behind as well and to take stock of all the things that have been done, the effort and achievements > to acknowledge how far we have come.

So rather than focus on what is still missing from “perfect” practice, to look at how much has been learned and how much further along the path one has come so far. To feel happiness at this :slight_smile:

I found this perspective beautiful, comforting and useful. I share it in the hope that it will be of use to those who read it as well.



We often think (me included) that practice (or life) is a place and not a journey. Our craving for permanence, has no bounds. In any case I think what is important is we salvage what was beneficial and let go of the rest, and utilize the experience for further development or progress.

Much mudita,


That’s a really important point, that piti isn’t something that just happens to you as a result from being in jhana, you have to train yourself to actively turn Piti on command. One of main techniques of pīti-sambojjhanga, how it directly is linked to factor # 3 viriya-sambojjhanga (one continuously 24/7 using right effort to purify oneself). As we do that, then we should recognize and appreciate the fruit of that effort:

AN 6.20 (marana sati, death remembrance sutta):

(the default way to generate pīti, pamojja, in 7sb)

♦ “sace pana, bhikkhave, bhikkhu
{but} if, monks, (a) monk,
paccavekkhamāno evaṃ jānāti —
(on) reflecting thus realizes --
‘n-atthi me
'not-existing (in) me [are]
pāpakā akusalā dhammā ap-pahīnā,
evil un-skillful qualities un-abandoned,
ye me assu rattiṃ kālaṃ
that I might, (by) night time's [death]
karontassa antarāyāyā’ti,
(still have) active (as an) obstacle,
tena, bhikkhave, bhikkhunā
then monks, (a) monk
for that very [reason],
pīti-pāmojjena vihātabbaṃ
enraptured-(and with)-gladness (he) should-dwell,
kusalesu dhammesu.
(in) skillful qualities.

Thank you @frankk for expounding on this. Very useful indeed :slight_smile:

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And hence the importance of sustained virtue - so no regrets to get in the way of experiencing Piti :slight_smile:

I love the dhamma - how it all relates/inter-relates :smiley:

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So happy to hear that you are doing well :slightly_smiling_face: It sounds as though your journey was a great success! Anything we can do to increase our understanding is helpful on the path. I find that the more I expect things to be a certain way, the more it seems they never are. Impermanence at work I suppose :wink:

I was recently offered a job as a camp host in the forest of Montana and I’m living here in my van for the summer. I still have work to do, bills to pay, etc. but I am finding the peace and quiet to be helpful for my practice. Precepts also seem easier without so many distractions. Maybe I can come away with some realizations like you have had :heart:

BTW, the “grass truly is greener” here in the forest than out on the plains where I’m from. But Samsara remains.

“Wander alone
like a rhinoceros” - Khaggavisana Sutta


Hi @aconlan, that sounds wonderful :smiley: I’m so glad that things are working out so nicely for you. Enjoy that green grass!