To reach satisfaction in all, desire its possession in nothing.
To come to the knowledge of all , desire the knowledge of nothing.
To come to possess all , desire the possession of nothing.
To arrive at being all desire to be nothing.
~ St. John of the Cross
Alone: It is how we were born and how we will die.
I don’t think anyone likes being lonely, but there is a difference between being alone and being lonely. We have all experienced the extremes of both.
Pure aloneness is the nature of our being; it is the thread of our existence.
We are all orphans, but we paradoxically belong to the whole. How could this be? There have been many times in my life I have been in a room full of people and yet felt lonely. I am sure everyone has experienced this. It’s a deep emptiness inside that no one can fulfill no matter how hard we try. It is only our individual soul that can go through this process of going from loneliness to aloneness.
In Buddhism there is a term called “hungry ghosts”. It is that insatiable drive to continuously chase desires. We go after things, one after another, to try and fill the void. We set goals and attain big achievements yet once we arrive, we still do not feel content or fulfilled. So we set new goals, like a rabbit chasing the proverbial carrot.
We are conditioned to run after things: a college degree, status, wealth, marriage, children, grandchildren, retirement, etc. All the while saying “when I achieve this then I will be happy.” By the time we are half-way through our lives, we have achieved everything except happiness.
Just like the hungry ghost, we keep trying to fill ourselves with distractions to avoid sitting with our loneliness. We fill it with various forms of addictions: food, sex, television, drugs, alcohol, toxic relationships, shopping, drama, internet, gossiping, the list is endless. We run from one thing to the next trying to fill our loneliness. If we are not used to being with our self it can be a very uncomfortable process.
Our whole search is really to avoid asking who we are.
We are seeking union with ourselves.
We are trying to connect with our true being.
When we become love, we radiate and attract only love. The old cliche, “you have to love yourself first” is very true. Only by taking time alone can we go within and reflect on who we really are. We are the source of our existence and here is where our true nature lies. We have everything we need—and beyond—inside of us. One way to tap into our inner being is through meditation. This is where communion with atman (soul) happens.
When we run through one relationship after another without giving adequate time to contemplate who we are and what we want, we attract the same partners over and over again, only to face the We are looking to others to complete our selves, yet we are complete—we have just forgotten.
Whenever we are going through a period of loneliness, we can look at it as an opportunity to heal, expand and grow. We can endure the pain of loneliness, not try to suppress it. We can witness it with intense awareness and let it pass on its own. By deeply experiencing the emotions of pain, hurt, and guilt, whatever they may be, we will give birth to our Self.
Though it is painful, we can go through it. If we don’t resist it, it will liberate us. From here we will enter the space of aloneness, which is vast and eternal, our atman, our soul.
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Assistant Editor: Guenevere Neufeld/Editor: Rachel Nussbaum
Photo: elephant archives