September 10, 2016

Finding the Wisdom in Aloneness: The Buddha’s Final Teaching.


Sometimes messages reach my mind, seemingly whispered to the wind and brought in by the breeze.

One such message came to me today, sweeping across my soul just as my heart was sighing at my aloneness. I was ready to learn this teaching again.

It called to me:

“Be a light unto yourself.”

I answered:


This hadn’t been okay in the past, and I hadn’t been ready yet to accept it, but I was on a solo journey again and staying in denial was making me tired. I wanted to say, “No” instead of, “Yes.” I wanted to keep shouting, “Not yet…Not ready…This isn’t what I want!” But my lungs were spent, and my heart knew it was time to accept a few things.

When we go through a big change, there is always an adjustment period—a time in which we must settle into our souls and bond with our own beautiful selves.

It’s okay if we feel shaky through the transition. If we vacillate on our next move. If we don’t know the answers to our questions.

It is our work to come back into our strength, and the breeze was telling me it was time. It reminded me of the Gautama Buddha’s final teachings, the Maha-parinibbana Sutta, recorded on the last days of his time on earth. These teachings encapsulated his overall message, including how to become the observer of ourselves—to stop being so caught up in our changing lives.

I took a step back from my situation and watched my aloneness from a distance. Relief seeped in. I slowly untangled myself from my story and I witnessed it, rather than being consumed by it.

The witnesser knew she was okay.

She saw her experiences as simply happening. We suffer less when we can do this, and we begin to connect to the core of who we are—the one who can handle anything because it views it as as neither good nor bad.

In meditation training, we are taught to become the observer to our own thoughts and treat them as passing weather systems—sometimes cloudy, sometime bright—but to not get attached to them either way. We train in this so that we can then act this way in our daily lives, less crazed by a changing world or personal life.

Some have attributed the words that came to my mind directly to the Buddha, however J. Krishnamurti, a renowned modern spiritual teacher, spoke of this practice too, and wrote lectures on it. Translation and interpretation always alter slightly with time, but the underlying principles are the same:

We must find the guru within us and cease looking to others to be our guide or our crutch.

We can take these teachings and apply them as a warm poultice to our aching hearts. For when we find ourselves in aloneness, we have the grand opportunity to head deeply into ourselves and rediscover that the things we have been running from are only experiences and reactions within.

We can never truly hide from ourselves. We may be able to distract ourselves from this truth by being with another, but eventually we must face what is here.

So, if aloneness has wrapped us up once more in her intoxicating scent, remember that it is the perfect time to become our own light that we shine on our soul to discover exactly who we are.

As long as we are afraid to explore certain places in ourselves, we will always be on the run from something. So look, dear ones. Look lightly, and be the observer who simply sees. I promise this aloneness won’t be too much to handle. And remember, like the weather, it will change.

Alone doesn’t have to be wasted on lamenting another’s absence; we can spend it discovering the one who is right here. The true refuge we may have been looking for might be sitting here, waiting in our own very heart.

“It is only in the state of attention that you can be a light unto yourself, and then every action of your daily life springs from that light.” ~ J Krisnamurti


Author: Sarah Norrad

Image: Humphrey King/Flickr

Editor: Toby Israel


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