The following is an excerpt from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.
Acharya Prashant: Which aspect of the mind do you get rid of, or what kind of threat to the mind do you ward off by being in the forest?
Yes, everything that the presence of the other person gives you. So the forest does not have to be a literal one. By being in the forest, it is not literally meant that you have to be in the woods. Proceed by way of negation.
Being in the forest indicates psychologically not being with people. Psychologically not being with corrupting influences. I repeat this because when I say not being with people psychologically, that does not mean that you don’t have to be with anybody at all. Even in the jungle, the Sage is with the seekers, so there are people to be with, right? So being in the jungle does not completely exclude the possibility of being with people. Rather it completely excludes the possibility of being with the usual, normal, ordinary commoners. Theirs is the company you have to guard against. In fact, you cannot have the company of the Rishi, if you have the company of the commoners.
That’s why you have to go to the jungle to meet the Sage. The sage could easily have remained in the city or the village. Why did he have to escape to the jungle? Surely, life is not going to be at least physically easier there. No means of communication. Food may not be readily available. And there are the usual threats. Why do we see the Sages then, so often in the jungles? What do the jungles mean to them? Or have we seen them so frequently in the jungles that the question does not occur at all?
We must frequently ask that question. What does the jungle mean? The jungle simply means that you don’t want to be in surroundings that impede your ascension. You don’t want to be in a place that pollutes and corrupts you. You realize your situation, your frailty.
You see that if you stay with certain kinds of people, then a lot of your time and attention is wasted in dealing with trivia. Daily, you value your time, you value your life so you don’t want to waste your daily time. So you say, “No, if I stay here the result is a daily loss that keeps compounding. I can’t stay here. Because inner progress is dear to me. I am all…