|samaṇassa ahū cintā
|This thought occurred to the wanderer
Who was seated, single minded,
Among the flowers of the forest,
Meditating in seclusion:
iriyaṃ āsi bhikkūhnaṃ
aññathā dāni dissate.
|Compared to when that best of men,
The guide of all the world, remained,
The behavior of the bhikkhus
Appears to be so different now!
kandarāsu guhāsu ca
|Among the roots of forest trees,
And in caverns and in grottoes,
Being devoted to seclusion…
They used to dwell intent on that.
|pāpakānañ ca dhammānaṃ
kilesānañ ca yo utu
ye ca saddhammasesakā.
|In this era where there are those
Corrupt and of wicked intent,
Those who still uphold seclusion
Keep what’s left of the true teaching.
These lines were composed by a monk who received his instruction directly from the Buddha, and thus the “corruption” he is lamenting would be that of the very first generation of practitioners. Already, it seems, the draw away from solitary practice in the wilderness and toward the settled monastic centers had set in. How easily the mind is enticed by the external world.
The verses suggest to us today that the true teaching (saddhamma) is still best served by spending time in solitary meditation, among the roots of forest trees. It is a teaching of inner exploration, of silent observation, and of secluded, single minded, habitation. This is the direction in which the Buddha, that best of men, continues to guide the world.