I was recently curious about the opposite word for “lonely,” so I Googled it. The result I got was “popular.” Let me say without reservation that if you asked either Heath Ledger or Robin Williams the opposite of the word lonely, “popular” would be the last thing that came to their mind. A person can be incredibly famous, be surrounded by hundreds of people, and yet feel utterly alone.
Apparently, our English language has no good opposite word for the emotion of loneliness.
There have been many times in my spiritual journey, especially in recent years, where I’ve felt terribly alone. Not for lack of companionship but rather the absence of a person who understands what I’m going through.
I started what I knew intellectually was a solo journey a long while ago. We can only go to God alone. What my heart didn’t realize at the time was that there was no turning back.
For years of my life, I had physical mentors. Now they are all on another plane of existence. To say that I don’t miss having a teacher in a body would be a lie. I do. It feels lonely to be a place of spiritual growth that none of my circle can understand. Yet, there is no option but forward. To think of living in the illusion of duality again gives me chills.
I asked my best counsel, my eighty-one-year-old Vedic astrologer, about this feeling of loneliness, to which he replied, ” You need to get used to that. It’s going to go on for several years more.” Wow…he’s such an encourager. (said with heavy sarcasm)
At thirty-three years old, I decided to renounce the religion I had been raised to believe was the end-all, be-all of spirituality. At that point, supposing just about everyone in my life would ostracize me, I chose to start walking a path I believed was toward better truth about God. What I didn’t grasp at the time was that literally, no one would be willing to go with me – hardly any would even listen to my story. All the Christians kicked me to the curb – even those I had invested hundreds of hours in mentoring and teaching.
The past two decades have been a continual process of letting go, of detaching from ideas that weighed me down in my spiritual journey. As I’ve dropped attachments, I’ve also lost many relationships that accompanied those attachments. I’ve gotten “closer” to God yet further from the world of associations that’s kept me so cozy and comfortable for thousands of incarnations.
Everyone in my circle is a student now. John’s ego wants to go back to being a student too – to have someone else tell me what’s what. Speaking to Maharaj-ji and my spirit guides, getting quiet enough to listen, watching for signs and leelas – all much more challenging than having my mentor say, “Stop that!” or “WTF were you thinking?” Still, that wish is John mentally masturbating – there is only upward and onward by myself.
It’s beat the mountain or bust. Before seeing the Divine Mother, Om Swami meditated twenty-two hours a day for seven months, virtually alone in the Himalayas. Holy shit, there’s a long way to travel knowing no one is going with us and trusting someone will greet us upon arrival! Yet I press on towards the goal for which Christ has called me heavenward through Maharaj-ji.
A lot of folks out there are lonely. Many of them are surrounded by people experiencing what the secular world calls “success,” yet they feel terribly solitary and keep it to themselves. As I’ve pondered and prayed about why humans get this way, Maharaj-ji revealed something to me that Google couldn’t –
Being genuinely “seen” is the opposite of feeling alone.
We feel companionship when another Soul knows precisely who we are at our core with all our faults and misgivings, and they accept us nonetheless. It’s when someone knows the pain we’re trying to hide or the hurts we’re secretly attempting to heal and says, “let me help” regardless. This is agape.
This is being seen.
Are you feeling lonely while reading this? Let me offer a few suggestions –
My first wife, Lisa, and my mentor Brooks were two Souls that genuinely saw me. Both of them constantly gave me truth, unadulterated by their opinions. Sometimes that truth hurt, but it always helped. Often the people in your life who can “see” you are the ones that love (agape) you deeply.
Seek out the least judgemental person in your life and talk to them about your feelings. They are likely the individual who knows you most profoundly. Unburdening your heart always helps with the feeling of belonging.
This is why Satsang or sangha or church (or whatever you call your spiritual circle) is so essential. We all need people around us to say continually, “You’re OK just as you are – keep going!” and to know others are headed to the same place as we are.
Maharaj-ji said, “There will be times when my devotee is in pain. Know that the tears he sheds are mine. The pain is an inevitable part of the journey, but it will not last.” and “Know that I am always with you. My body was your need, not mine.”
Whenever I feel alone in my journey, I use the affirmations, “I feel seen” or “God sees me” or “Maharaj-ji knows.” I realize if I genuinely believe Baba knows all I’m experiencing and loves me anyway, it’s impossible to feel alone. Isolated is a feeling (a lie) I’ve created that’s rooted in fear, just like anything else negative.
He is with me. He is with you. But we’ve got to trust that it’s true – that’s faith! “God sees me!” “God sees you!” “Baba sees us!” These are the thoughts we need to entertain and affirm!
Also, my desire to be seen has spurred me to do a better job of seeing others. In my experience, most folks feel alone no matter the challenge they are experiencing. I’m called to create a space where an individual can calmly share and be understood, not judged or condemned. When we make an opening for someone to communicate their feelings honestly, we automatically feel less alone. Serving is always a solution to feeling solo for both the servant and the served.
May we all “see” each other through our faith that God “sees” us completely and loves us anyway. May we all know that we are One and it’s impossible for us to be alone.