Living in the forest has been a part of the Indian way of life. “Ashram Vyavastha”, promulgated in ancient Indian culture, has “Van Prasthaan” as one of the crucial stages of life for developing human consciousness. After having a learning childhood and a prosperous householder life, a person needs to look forward to diving into the inner world, and the journey starts with Van Prasthaan. Once a person goes away from the conundrum of the world into peaceful places, it leads to natural meditation and contemplation.
Hence, a forest has been considered the best place, and many schools have created their ashrams in such surroundings to facilitate this process. Two questions may arise – why is such contemplation only possible in a forest, and why is this contemplation necessary at all?
Let us first answer the 2nd question. Every life on earth is composed of spirit and matter, i.e. the consciousness and the physical body. In the initial year of human life, the mind is focused on getting an education, earning a livelihood and starting a family. During this time, understanding one’s spirituality takes the back seat. However, if this spiritual aspect is not understood, there is very little difference between a human and an animal. Until and unless the consciousness is being taken higher, this life is nothing but eating, breathing and procreating.
To enable humans to develop this consciousness, ancient systems have incorporated dwelling in the forest as one of the stages of human life where it becomes easier to connect to the inner nature of a human. What is taking the consciousness higher? It is nothing but identifying yourself more with the consciousness and less with the material body.
For a human, there has always been an interaction with the inner world (subconscious mind) and the outer world. We constantly colour our internal thinking process based on what we see outside. These influences keep our minds involved in the vicious circle of the world and keep our focus engaged.
When we retreat into natural places, these influences are reduced significantly, and the circle is broken, and fresh ideas start coming. This is because, inherently, our mind loves to reflect what is inside our true being. And that is why we get lofty thought and inspiration in natural places. Meditation and contemplation become natural. These are the places that help us connect to our inner being effortlessly. The forest-dwelling makes this process a smooth sail compared to calming your mind in the bustling city.
Just like deep sleep, which is an unconscious recharging mechanism, dwelling in the forest is a conscious recharging mechanism given to us by nature. Let us make the best use of this gift of Mother Earth.
The author is Co-founder & CFO at Beforest.