In the Buddhist past, when questions have arisen about the authenticity of institutionalized, conventionalized Buddhist organizations, politics, beliefs, and practices, practitioners have retired into the “forest,” the classical term for the uninhabited jungles of India. The “forest” was regarded as a place beyond the reach of conventional culture and institutionalized Buddhism, a place where the atmosphere was open and unobstructed. The forest was understood as a trackless waste, a place for all those “others” standing outside of conventional culture, such as wild animals, gods and demons, and people beyond the pale. The latter includes lunatics, criminals, the terminally ill, the most extreme outcasts, and most important, those spiritual practitioners who literally walked away from the conventionalized religious systems of India seeking “the origin of all things.”
from Touching Enlightenment; Finding Realization in the Body
To be continued . . .