“Solitude has soft, silky hands, but with strong fingers it grasps the heart and makes it ache with sorrow.
Solitude is the ally of sorrow as well as a companion of spiritual exaltation.”
-Kahlil Gibran (The Broken Wings)
Speaker: “Solitude has soft, silky hands, but with strong fingers it grasps the heart and makes it ache with sorrow.
Solitude is the ally of sorrow as well as a companion of spiritual exaltation.”
(Referring to the questioner) So, what Sushmita is asking is, “How solitude is related to sorrow?” First thing. Second, she is saying is that what she understands from this quote is – solitude is related to aloneness.
‘Solitude’ here stands obviously not for Aloneness, but for the craving of the mind, to reach aloneness. In the sense that Khalil Gibran is talking about solitude here, solitude represents – loneliness. So, this presents us an opportunity to look into the relation between ‘loneliness’ and ‘aloneness’.
What is ‘loneliness’?
The sense that – I am, but I don’t really have company. Is that not so? That’s what you call as ‘feeling lonely’. I am, and there are others, but they are somehow not available to me. That’s what you call as ‘the sense of loneliness’. That’s the starting point – I AM, and I AM, along with others. Others too exist. I exist, and so do others. And the way I am, the way I know myself, the way I have defined myself, I think that a relationship with others, or at least to the few special others, a few particular others, will bring me contentment.
The way I am – I am a fragment, separated from rest of the world, with my own self-interests, with my own particular individual definition of security, with my own goals and objectives, with my own private life, with my own little, divided individuality, that’s how I am. And this thing, that I AM, is looking for a relationship with others. This fragment is looking to get associated with others, in the hope that this association will bring it peace and contentment, right? This is loneliness. This is ‘loneliness’.
What does ‘loneliness’ want? Let’s see. Loneliness gets associated with one, and then with another, and then with another. There are an infinite number of people and other objects with whom to have a relationship. There are so many doors that can be knocked at, and it keeps knocking at one door after the other.
“May be, the college degree would give me that particular peace, if I can associate it with my name. May be being with friends would give me that. May be, what I lack is financial security. So, may be the next million or billion would give me that. May be the next wife, the next kid, the next job, sometimes even the next life,” right? And all it gets is disappointment.
Loneliness, going by its habits, its ways, ends up getting disappointed again and again, but because there are infinite number of objects hence what always remains is at least a mathematical probability that something else might satisfy me. Are you getting it? The options are never exhausted. Your life may get exhausted, but options are never exhausted.
“Alright, I was deceived forty-eight times, but there are so many more out there. Let me try a little more.”
“Alright, last ten jobs gave me nothing but frustration, but you know the job portals and the classifieds, they are all offering more – a new job, a new relationship. And we have been taught that one must live on hope. So even if, the last ten jobs got me nowhere, yet I think that the eleventh one might just do the trick. The possibilities are infinite. And one must live by hope. Hope is such a grand virtue.”
That’s the chemistry that loneliness has with the world. Searching for aloneness, all that a lonely mind gets is, even more loneliness. But just by grace, sometimes it happens, that one comes to a full stop, one comes to particular realisation. That realisation says, “You will not get it, out there. You will not get it, out there.” The ‘out there’ collapses.
The entire meaning that the world holds for you, collapses, the moment you realise that the world is not ‘out there’ to fulfill your expectations. That what you want will never be obtained from anything dualistic – ‘out there’. That which is ‘out there’: the man, the woman the job, the money, the security, the fame, will never give it to you. He cannot. It’s beyond him. So, one does come to this point, sometimes, rarely, very rarely.
You will not get it ‘out there’. Now the world is gone. Remember, the world does not exist merely as an objective entity. The world has no factualness or actuality of its own. The world is given a meaning by you, the subject. And who are you, ‘the subject’? Who expects something from the world.
The moment, you are not expecting it from the world, you are no more the same, and the world too is no more the same. I am saying – the world collapses, and so do you. You too collapse. You collapse as the unit that you have been. You are no more the same unit.
The unit that you have been, has been feeling lonely. It has always defined itself as something separate and different from the world, yet related to the world in the sense of a beggar. These definitions collapse. Now the relationship between you and the world cannot be the same anymore. You cannot look at yourself as a fragment, which will be fulfilled by the world. The world exists, still it does. But not as a hope, not as a promise, it is just there. Not something to be taken very seriously, not something that would give you an existential contentment. Not something that would supply you with beingness. Not something that answer the question, ‘Who am I?’ for you. It is just there. That wall is just there, nothing more than that. That wall does not define ‘me’. That money is just there, just there.
Your dependency upon the world is lost. We said, “You do not exist, in the same way as you used to, and the world also does not exist in the way it used to.” The very relationship between you and the world changes. You do not look at the world as a beggar. When you are not looking at the world as a beggar, you are alright with yourself. This sense of ‘being alright with yourself’, is called ‘aloneness’.
Now it is not a state that you can fantasise about. It’s a very ordinary thing. There is nothing really to fantasise about, in it. Kindly don’t impose your ideas on this state of ‘aloneness’. You live like any other ordinary human being. Desires are there, yes, hopes are there, yes, but you are able to see that you are the one who is superimposing its hopes upon the world.
You are able to see, or rather witness, that the ego is projecting a particular world which helps maintain the ego’s sense of deficiency. So you see, that whatever is happening, is all happening with the center within you. You alone are responsible – this is aloneness. Are you getting it?
If I am afraid of those footsteps, I realise, they are my own footsteps – this is aloneness. “I Alone Am Responsible, and then I Alone Am.” But you cannot say, “I alone am,” till you have said, “I alone am the world.” And what do you mean by ‘the world’? Obviously, there is nothing called as ‘the world’, it’s always ‘my world’, right?
There are as many worlds here as are people. So – I am, I alone am, the creator of my world. These footsteps that so terrify me, are mine. I alone am. I am the one who sets the alarm, and I am the one who refuses to wake up. I am the one who painted that painting, and I am the one who is terrified by looking at that painting. I alone am. Are you getting it?
So that’s what aloneness implies. One – the world cannot give me fulfillment. In my days of loneliness, I tried enough of that and I have come to realize that the world cannot give me fulfillment. And second – the world does not even exist as an objective entity. I alone am. This is the movement from ‘loneliness’ to ‘aloneness’. Do not think of these two – ‘loneliness’ and ‘aloneness’ – as opposites of each other. They are not opposites of each other. In fact, ‘aloneness’ is the pinnacle towards which ‘loneliness’ is always trying to move. They are different dimensions.
Loneliness is dualistic – ‘me and the world’, and aloneness is non-dual. Often we make this mistake of taking these two as opposites. They are not opposite. If something is the opposite of each other, it has to be in the same, dualistic dimension. Aloneness is not dualistic, neither is it in the same dimension. Are you getting it?
Listener 1: It’s like how attraction is always trying to move towards love?
Speaker: In some sense, and in sometimes, yes. See, ‘loneliness’ craves for ‘aloneness’, but ‘loneliness’ also wants to preserve itself. ‘Aloneness’ is the death of ‘loneliness’, remember. That is the reason why loneliness remains just ‘loneliness’. Why? Because it craves for ‘aloneness’, but ‘aloneness’ would mean its death. So that is also the relationship between attraction and love. All attraction craves for love, but the moment love comes, attraction would be finished. So attraction would also have a stake, in just remaining attraction. It won’t want to move beyond the level of attraction.
So deeply in its heart, attraction wants love, but in its mind, attraction wants self-preservation. And that self-preservation will not allow it, to become love. Getting it?
Listener 2: This reminds me the two things I heard in last two days. You once said, “Every word is gibberish, every word is an attempt to just shut up.” And in one of the audios, Osho said, “Science is the search for Truth.”
Speaker: Search is bigger than the Truth.
Listener 2: Yes.
Speaker: It is a search for Truth, in which, the search is more important. Yes, right. Not the Truth, but the search. That’s a great danger, when you say, “I am searching for something,” the search can become bigger than the something. So you can continue to just…?
Listener 3: Sir, there is a video titled, “Pure awareness begins with suffering,” so, is this the same suffering that we are talking about?
Speaker: Yes, yes, yes. But that doesn’t mean that you have to take on anymore suffering. All of us are already suffering enough. It begins with suffering, in the sense that it begins with you becoming sensitive to the already existing suffering. Not that you have to go out and suffer a little more.
Become more sensitive to your own state. The more you realise where you stand, the more you will see: ‘How you are yearning for something’ — That is suffering.
Anything on this?
Listener 3: Sir, in the beginning of this, seeking aloneness and being lonely, does a general dislike for the world also comes, in the initial stage?
Speaker: Yes, of course. You know that somebody ‘out there’ holds the capacity to fulfill you, and you also know that he is not giving fulfilment to you. That’s why lovers hate each other so much. “You are the only one who can give it to me,” do you know what kind of terrible dependency that is?
“You can give it to me, yet you are not giving it to me.” Do you understand what kind of explosive hatred it is? Of course, he cannot give it to you. He does not have it. Your expectation is misplaced. But what do you feel? He has it, but he is denying it to you. He doesn’t have it, poor fellow. Release him from your expectations, he doesn’t have it.
Listener 2: That is why, a woman or a man, who would seek for the presence for the beloved, would keep saying, “Please come in, please come in, please come in.”
Speaker: Yes. And when he comes, then it is always an anticlimax. Is it not? You are waiting so much for that particular date, and it always leaves you disappointed. You may pretend of course otherwise, in front of your Facebook friends, that’s another matter. You can put a couple of nice pics, and you can even try to convince yourself that it was quite nice. It is actually never nice. It is always about the two of you turning your backs to each other and just snoring it away, is it not?
After the climax, comes the ugly anticlimax, the man is looking towards the left, the woman is looking towards the right. The man is snoring, the woman too is about to fall asleep. What happened to that intimacy? And after a couple of hours, why do you want it again? Surely, a lot was still left to be desired, right? Surely, a lot was still left to be desired.
Listener 2: So, can a person who is alone, be in a relationship with anybody?
Speaker: Only he can be in a real relationship. What kind of relationship does one have in loneliness? A relationship of dependency, a relationship of expectations that are never going to be fulfilled, a relationship of craving, begging, attachment. And I am not referring to these words just because in traditional, spiritual literature, they are referred to vices.
We all want a particular peace. I am referring to these words because they will not let us reach there, that point of contentment. In loneliness, any and every relationship that one has is a relationship that only augments our pre-existing restlessness.
You know, you are thirsty, and you are knocking at one door after the other. In the process of knocking, what is happening to your thirst? It is increasing. In the process of establishing one relationship after the other, what is happening?
A man is bleeding, and he ends up knocking of the doors of a false doctor. He has knocked, and may be the doctor opens the door, and may be the doctor starts talking as well, and there is a particular duration to the relationship of the doctor. In this duration, you have been bleeding away to death. Are you getting it? Even the duration of the relationship is only debilitating you further, it is sapping away the life out of you. That’s the quality of our relationship when the mind is lonely.
In aloneness, obviously it’s a different matter all together. “There is no need for me to relate to you. You can’t give anything to me. There is no purpose, there is no agenda.”
“Why I have come to you?”
“Why do you want to meet me?”
“Are you an idiot?”
“Why do you come home every evening?”
“I might just not meet you tomorrow. I am here today evening, that’s all. Let’s enjoy.”
“Is there a reason coming from the past?”
“No. I am just here, reasonlessly.”
“Is there a guarantee for the future that you will come home tomorrow as well?”
“Not really. Darling, I don’t want to give false promises. No guarantee. I might not come here tomorrow. But for sure, I am fully here, today. Can we want to make a best out of it?”
If there is a reason why he comes to you, there would also be a reason why he will not come to you. These two go together. That is why you are never too sure of your husband, or wife, or girlfriend, because your love is always for a reason. And we know that reason, right? The reason is loneliness.
‘Loneliness’ can never really be loyal. It pretends to be loyal, but it loves knocking on multiple doors. Just as your eyes love to slide on one face after the other, don’t they? Don’t just take that to be a normal, male habit. When you go to the market place, even if with your wife besides you, and you will find that your eyes are looking at one face after the other – wives obviously don’t like this behavior, but men invariably end up doing this – don’t think of that this is just hormone-driven, masculine lasciviousness. You are searching for God, obviously at the wrong place. Getting it?
In aloneness, you do not need to do that. You might still be looking at pretty faces, but just as pretty faces. “What was it? Nice face,” that’s all. No promise of godhood, no promise of fulfilment. And when you don’t want fulfilment, then even your definition of what is pretty and what is not, changes.
Suddenly a lot many things, a lot more pretty, suddenly the space for ugliness becomes smaller and smaller. It’s a very strange relationship that you have in aloneness. If you will look at it with normal worldly eyes, you might not call it a ‘relationship’ at all.
It will not have a preset character, it will not operate within preset boundaries. It will not confirm to social norms, or it may just. You never know. Sometimes it may, sometimes it may not.
~ Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity.
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