In the realm of Dhamma practice, forests and mountains are tantamount to what we call graduate schools. Forests are where people who have thoroughly studied the Dhamma go to make the Buddha’s teaching their own. In doing so, they realize what we call Forest Dhamma.
The forest university is not for everyone. Most Buddhist practitioners stand in sight of the spiritual forests all their lives but never enter them, being content to listen to others who have been there and thus avoid the inevitable hardships. But a search for the truth of Dhamma is most easily carried out in remote areas beyond the noise and bustle of society. For that reason, the forest university has been the first choice of countless generations of Buddhist seekers. The key is seclusion. The seclusion offered by a forest environment is essential for anyone who hopes to go beyond written accounts of the spiritual path or an academic understanding of it, and arrive at the true nature of what the Buddha taught. For this reason, forests are the natural field of activity for those seekers striving to transcend suffering.
In truth, the real forest university has no specific location. It has no trees, no streams, no mountains. The real forest university is a state of mind. It is that great heritage of Forest Dhamma that has been brought down to us through the centuries. It is a state of mind which is regenerated throughout the centuries by a body of venerable teachers who have made the forests and mountains their proving grounds. The real forest university is nothing less than the continuing body of Forest Dhamma itself.