For me – taking my Buddhist practice outside and making time for practising in outdoors has become increasingly important. I suggest that it should be important to us all. I am sure the climate crisis has in part come about through our disconnection from the natural world.
It’s been a while since I read through the Pali cannon but I can’t remember a specific sutra where the Buddha talks about the importance of practising outside.
It’s implicitly present in many places. When the Buddha talks about the importance of solitude, he names outside places as the places he goes to be alone. In the Fear and Dread sutra he describes overcoming his fears in the Jungle, and of course it’s there in the Vinaya, the rules that describe how monks and nuns should live. The Buddha and his community lived and practised in outside places.
I remember hearing that someone once asked Carl R. Rogers – the founder of the Person Centered Movement – why he didn’t mention Christianity in his writings. He said something like ‘It went without saying”. His spirituality was the water he was swimming in, and the people around him swam in those waters as well. It was only as society became more secular that the omission became obvious.
I wonder if the same is true for the Buddha and Buddhism. Practising outside was such a fundamental part of his movement, and of the many seekers and teachers that took up the homeless life, that it went without saying.
I am so grateful to have an inside space to practice in AND I feel the urgency of reconnecting our Buddhist practice with the outside world.