(A Monk) by the Name of Elder (On Solitude)
Theranāma Sutta (SN 21:10)
On one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Rājagaha in the Bamboo Forest, the squirrels’ sanctuary. Now at that time a certain monk by the name of Elder [Thera] was one who lived alone and extolled the virtues of living alone. Alone he entered the village for alms, alone he returned, alone he sat withdrawn (in meditation), alone he did walking meditation.
Then a large number of monks went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As they were sitting there, they informed him: “Lord, there is a certain monk by the name of Elder who lives alone and extols the virtues of living alone.”
Then the Blessed One told a certain monk, “Come, monk. In my name, call the monk named Elder, saying, ‘The Teacher calls you, my friend.’”
“As you say, lord,” the monk answered and, having gone to Ven. Elder, on arrival he said, “The Teacher calls you, my friend.”
“As you say, my friend,” Ven. Elder replied. Then he went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to him, sat to one side. As he was sitting there, the Blessed One said to him, “Is it true, Elder, that you live alone and extol the virtues of living alone?”
“But how do you live alone and extol the virtues of living alone?”
“Lord, alone I enter the village for alms, alone I return, alone I sit withdrawn (in meditation), alone I do walking meditation. That is how I live alone and extol the virtues of living alone.”
“There is that way of living alone, Elder. I don’t say that there isn’t. Still, listen well to how your living alone is perfected in its details, and pay close attention. I will speak.”
“As you say, lord,” Ven. Elder responded.
The Blessed One said: “And how is living alone perfected in its details? There is the case where whatever is past is abandoned, whatever is future is relinquished, and any passion & desire with regard to states of being attained in the present is well subdued.1 That is how living alone is perfected in its details.”
That is what the Blessed One said. Having said it, the One Well-Gone further said this:
with regard to all things,
released in the ending of craving:
Him I call
a man who lives
1. Iti 15 states that as long as one has craving as a companion, one keeps wandering on.