Well it’s easy to be a holy man on a mountain but hard as heck when you live in the real world.
We’ve all heard that many times. I’ve even read something similar to that in a book once – it was called everyday Buddhism or something to that effect. It’s not really true though, just the work it takes to live on the side of a mountain is very tiring – I know how tough it can be because many of my retreats are spent on the side of a mountain. In the sense that people usually refer to, the moral or wisdom sense, is very hard as well. Sure there are fewer temptations and less people to deal with but there is always the mind. It’s common to think that it must be easy to do or say the right thing when you aren’t in the thick of things. That might or might not be true. What we usually miss or don’t understand is why that person has decided to be on the side of a mountain instead of in the swarm of society.
Those holy men aren’t on the side of the mountain to escape the world or because it is easier to deal with the “real” world when there is less of it. They see no point in what most would call the “real world”. If we actually looked deeply into the intent of our actions, that daily schedule we try so hard to fill, we would see how many of our activities are driven by plain desire. We don’t want to feel unproductive so we fill that schedule up, don’t want to take the chance of being bored so we plan activities, we’ve actually gotten to the point that we plan things to do during rest time. Most of these activities are completely unnecessary – many times this is done really to avoid ourselves.
I know many “Buddhists” who take their practice the same way…read books, listen to talks, watch videos for hours, but meditate only maybe once a week. It is much harder to sit and watch just what is happening without interference or judgment than it is to be entertained in some way.
These holy men on the mountain, or monastery, or forest, are there because they realize boredom is just boredom, pain is just pain, pleasure is just pleasure, the experience is just conditional. Realizing this is just a stream of experience and trying to fully realize reality. When you start to see things as they truly are and not muddled by perception then you see that these conditional things do not bring happiness and all this chasing seems so pointless. The point of what most call the real world is gone.
Maybe these holy men on the mountain are not there running away from the real world but are there to truly face it.
With Metta my friends