“Let us avoid staying in towns and villages; it is better for their inhabitants to come and visit us. Let us seek the wilderness and so draw after us the people who now shun us. For scripture praises those who ‘leave the cities and dwell in the rocks, and are like the dove’ (cf. Jer. 48:28). John the Baptist lived in the wilderness and the population of entire town came out to him. … For holiness is held in higher honor than wealth;how many rich men there were at that time, proud of their glory, and yet today they are quite forgotten; whereas the miraculous life of this humble desert-dweller is acclaimed until this day, …Let us abandon sordid commerce, and so acquire the ‘pearl of great price’ (Matt. 13:46).” ~The Philokalia
Today, we would say avoid cities and the suburbs of big cities rather than towns and villages. In most areas now, there is little wilderness left, and even if there is, trying to live in it is impractical. Still, the idea remains a sound one for a number of reasons. One reason is because we are benefited by regular contact with nature which people living in large cities rarely get. Not that, as some claim, nature and the natural world is holy in some way, but because nature obeys the Law of God, while many men try to avoid it. Another reason is that there tends to be a lot more negative energies, angry energies in cities or crowded areas simply because they are so crowded, and those low-frequency energies make it more difficult for the spiritual aspirant to raise her frequencies to allow contact with spiritual beings. Another is that spiritual techniques should be practiced outdoors, but in a place where you are not being watched, especially by doubters.
If, however, you do live in a large city or suburb and it is not practical for you to move, you can get around this problem. The thing to do is to make regular trips out into the country, especially into places where there are very few people. And spend some time there, not just a few minutes. When that is not practical, you can get some benefit by simply visiting a large park in the city (assuming it has parks).
The next part of the quote advises the monks to stay in the country and let the city folk come to them. This, unfortunately, is also impractical these days, though there are some work-arounds. With modern technology, you can reach people just about anywhere in the world with videos, television, radio, and the internet with forums such as this blog. While they may not be as effective as talking to folks in person, they may make up for that by reaching a lot more people. But even with such tools, it may be necessary to occasionally go into a big city to speak at events, or to some particular individual. In those cases, there are methods the spiritual student can apply to help protect himself during the time he is exposed to those negative energies.
The last part of the section quoted is particularly significant, and is something I haven’t really mentioned here before. While wealthy people really glory in there importance during their lifetimes, rarely does that fame last for long after their death. Can you name the ten wealthiest people of the last century? How about the previous century? Can you name the wealthiest people from the time of Jesus or Buddha? My guess is, most cannot without looking up that data on a history site, and you might not even find it there. Yet you find plenty of information about humble men like Jesus, John the Baptist, St. Francis, etc. Something to think about, but being spiritual is not about achieving world fame, its about saving your soul and the souls of others, at least if your practicing real spirituality and not some phony version.