The necessity of ‘seclusion’

Nalanda founder Bro. Tan giving the essential Dhamma teaching on ‘seclusion’.

Report by Megan Lim.

On Sunday 25 June, Bro. Tan delivered a Dhamma talk on ‘seclusion’, the third essential factor of Dhamma practice, following talks on ‘purity’ and ‘simplicity’.  ‘Viveka’ refers to seclusion, remoteness, privacy, and separation from crowds.  When socialising, more often than not, we tend to discuss topics that give rise to aversion and desire.  On the other hand, occasional seclusion and simple living give rise to serenity.

Sunday Service begins at 9.00am with quiet meditation to calm our minds.

To enjoy true seclusion, we should cut off craving and attachment for sensual pleasures. When we do that, the mind is able to experience joy, calmness and comfort which is conducive to Right Concentration.  With clarity of mind, we are able to see the proliferation of thoughts (Pāli, papañca) and subsequently overcome it.

However, we should not confuse seclusion with isolation. Some people, after taking up the practice of seclusion, no longer appreciate family and social gatherings, thinking that the people or activities are not worthy of their time.  This could be a sign of isolation instead of seclusion.

Bro. Choong Li leading the offerings of light, water and flowers to the Three Jewels.

Seclusion is not just physically separating oneself from the crowd but it is also cutting the growth of unwholesome qualities.  When in ‘seclusion’, one can still connect with others in simple and wholesome ways with loving-kindness, wishing for them ‘well and happy’.  One must learn to be a part of the world, yet at times be apart from it.

Pāli chanting in unison by the Sunday congregation at the Main Shrine Hall.

Bro. Tan ended the talk by reminding us to have a sense of urgency in our practice.  With each passing day, another opportune day for practice is gone forever.  Let us thus take heed of this wise advice and grow in depth through the application of purity, simplicity and seclusion. Sadhu anumodana.