My Live-in With Loneliness
Prelude: This post is in response to the #TheWriteChoice Challenge. In this post, I’m expressing my experience of loneliness, and how it transformed me from within.
The image of that elephant sitting on a lone tree branch in the middle of a desert, reminds me of my own solitary existence. To me, it acts as the metaphor of loneliness, and that dried-up fragile tree represents my own vulnerability, which is there deep within me. The desert, I find, is my life, which I am dispassionately surveying…
Loneliness: The Incompleteness Within
Loneliness has become a part of me now. I’m alone all the time. Even when I’m with others, I still feel that in this vast world, amongst these billions of souls, I’m alone. Hey, don’t feel sad for me. I’m not in a negative state. Loneliness, for me, is not a curse. This is my experience of living with one of the most dreaded feeling—which unsettles our very being; but if understood, can lead to immense freedom.
Among all the deepest longings of a human heart, one is the longing of love and belongingness. We seek company, care and affection of others. Evolution shaped us as social beings. Isolation kills us literally. There is evolutionary as well as psychological reason to it.
Psychologically, we are all ‘lonely beings’, drifting like isolated islands in this vast universe. This is not even a conscious feeling, but deep within our psyche we all feel it. And all our pursuits is to fill that emptiness, that void, which never seems to be filled.
Loneliness is not a mere feeling of aloneness. It’s an existential feeling. Vey very deep. To come to terms with it requires immense psychological maturity and strength. No matter how much party you do, how much socializing you practice or how much love you get from others, you cannot do away with this feeling. You can only ignore it, turn your face away from it. And that’s what we do all the time: we find escapes. We indulge in entertainment, hang out with others, engage ourselves in various activities, pop drinks and drugs…and what not! For what‽ Have you ever enquired? If you had, you’d have realised that there’s an emptiness, an incompleteness, which—no matter what you do—is always there. You cannot escape it. The more you try to escape through pleasures, people or things, the more you find yourself at a loss, transfixed in an unsolvable enigma. The only way out is in…to dive into it, to go at its root, see it for what it is, understand it—only then we can be free. This is my realisation after diving into it.
Kailash: My Tree
There’s a Shiva temple in our area, some 15 minutes away from my house. I’ve named it Kailash. There are seven Shiva Lingas in that temple, and I visit that temple almost everyday. You can say, it has become my second home. I spend most of my time there, usually alone. On some days, few of my friends come to learn English to me. I teach them without any fees. Except those few hours, I’m almost all the time alone there.
That temple is my that tree on which I sit, and survey my life, and that of others. I pray, meditate, do chanting, do study, get lost in contemplation…all that I can do there with no one to disturb.
The First Freedom:
In that loneliness, I’m most close to my being. Initially, there was a fear to be there all alone. Especially, when lights used to go out, I couldn’t stay there any longer. Apart from being alone, the fear of darkness was beyond my handling capability.
But, slowly, I’ve been able to settle there. As time passed by, I dived deeper and deeper into my solitary state. On some days it so would happen that I am sitting with my eyes closed, and the lights go out! Impenetrable darkness envelopes! But the strength I gained from being in solitude gave me the stability to stay in darkness also. In that stark darkness, which can scare the hell out of anyone, I’ve been able to sit unmoving. And this strength I have earned from solitude. You see, to be in solitude needs tremendous courage because you’re making yourself vulnerable. But the inner fortitude it builds is the first freedom you gain which stays with you all your life. You learn to be alone without seeking people’s affection and security. You learn to handle the deep-rooted insecurity in yourself. And this is a tremendous capability to have.
The Last Freedom:
Apart from unshakable inner fortitude and stability, the insights you glean from solitude are something that you may not understand through books or by hearing others. The very first thing I realised was—what my longings, fears and insecurities are. It was quite overwhelming to see them clearly. I was striking at the very fabric of my psyche, because psyche is constructed with these threads. I was somewhat unknoting the threads.
As I understood my psyche, by inherent inference, I also understood how other people function, why they are so desparate the way they are, why they cling to things and people, why they break down…it was quite a revelation.
I realised that our greatest attachment is with people, and our greatest enemy is our desires and fears.
Loneliness helped me break my attachment to this world in a big way. I now feel free from people’s influences. So, it’s not a curse for me. Because, you know, the Buddha also said:
“If you find no one to support you on the spiritual path, walk alone.”
Lastly, loneliness, when transformed into solitude, brings you face to face with your naked, raw existence, and when the feet trembles and the very breath flutters, you realise that ultimately, nothing matters, not even your own existence! All your fears dissolve. Then you become free, totally.
Thank You for reading. With Love, Alok 🍁