I am Here
to me is
* * *
I feel lonely much of the time. What am I to do about that?
Accept it, befriend it, it is the other side of feeling companioned. Both are expressions of one Presence. Presence cannot be but present, so not feeling anyone or anything is present is Presence.
To the carnal mind, yes, to the spiritually-minded one, no. When you say "I feel lonely," you are speaking to me of a feeling. Feelings come and go, Presence is present regardless. Do you trust Presence, or feelings?
But I don't like the feeling? I don't know anyone who does.
That is a reason you need to feel lonely. You are not seeing clearly. You are like a child who demands mommy or daddy always be there. You are telling the Presence of the Universe you do not like how It is, that Presence is present to be only as pleases you. Presence is present to be Presence, not give you or anyone only pleasurable feelings. So, your dislike of feeling lonely is a message to you. That will cause you much suffering, until you befriend the loneliness and discontinue complaining. So, the next time you feel this dislike for loneliness, welcome it, say, "Thank You for being here, my friend." See what happens.
Can this be worked with in meditation?
Certainly. Meditation is meant to disappoint you, over and over and over. Most persons begin meditation like it is a free ticket to paradise, a jump right out of hell-jail into heaven, their escape route from personal misery. They soon find out meditation increases suffering, until one moves more beyond the illusions that led them to meditation in the first place.
So, meditation might increase my feelings of loneliness?
It will. There you are, no escape route, sitting with nowhere to go, nothing to do. Mommy or daddy does not come to assuage your suffering. Sometimes, sitting there, you really feel your existential loneliness, that of the human condition, how you are really all alone. There, there is no one to save you, to please you, to come to your aid with a dose of pleasure to drug you out of suffering. Even God does not aid you. "Here, I will hold you, comfort you, I feel your pain, let me take care of you," but that does not come. So, really, what is true meditation is an act of courage. It asks, "Can you sit in the fire, and not run?"
So, the loneliness is part of the fire?
Yes, and in the silence loneliness is amplified.
So, it increases in meditation?
I have said that, but more strictly, no, for the loneliness is amplified, not increased. Silence does not increase that feeling of loneliness, rather it exposes more clearly the loneliness that was already present. What most persons do is entertain themselves to conceal the loneliness. They will seek to use spiritual practice for entertainment, the same way many persons may attend worship and enjoy the ritual, but they have no intent to surrender to be transformed by it. Many think they are entertaining God with their songs and other rituals, as though God needs all that. Likely, most often, they are only entertaining themselves. And the ego will be glad to use meditation as another entertainment. That does not work. Presence will not cooperate with that, but will let you play the trick on yourself.
Some say loneliness and aloneness aren't the same. They say loneliness doesn't belong, but aloneness does, that spiritual practice can lead us beyond loneliness.
Both loneliness and aloneness belong. Yet, strictly, loneliness is only a feeling, aloneness is not, it is our natural being. Do not try to overcome loneliness, do not expect to evolve beyond having at least brief times of it. When you allow yourself to get close to loneliness, it, like sadness, has a beauty about it. I do not think you need to be beyond loneliness, it has a gift to give you.
Itself, which includes the beauty.
If aloneness is not a feeling, what is it?
Like I said, our natural being. Another word is solitude. You are a solitude living among solitudes. You were born alone, live alone, will die alone.
That sounds depressing.
But what about relationships? I thought you teach that we're essentially relational.
We are, for we are. Our solitude makes possible deep connection. When two persons, for example, befriend their solitude, when those two solitudes share, that is deep sharing. Deep connection arises from an intimacy with your own solitude. This is a reason living a life of solitude does not negate intimacy. Intimacy, however, can be hindered by too much time among others, not enough by yourself.
So, these aren't opposites?
No. Solitude is the space in which intimacy reaches out for intimacy.
Then, meditation increases capacity for indepth sharing?
Yes. By learning to work with your loneliness, you find beneath it solitude. Becoming intimate with your solitude, that is becoming intimate with yourself. So, there you are, in silence daily, growing into a deeper connection with who you truly are, not the lonely person acting like a vampire sucking attention from others. Our true nature seeks connection from fullness, not lack, for in Presence is no lack. When you are sharing with a deeply spiritual being, you can sense this fullness, partly for he or she is not grasping for your energy, he or she already has plenty. When you least need someone emotionally, then you are most receptive to intimacy.
But would this not lead to being aloof?
There is nothing wrong with being aloof. Interestingly, in most cultures, if you are always interacting with others, that is considered normal; but if you are usually alone and content with yourself, that is held in suspicion. They do not know the meaning of "alone with the Alone," a saying from Hinduism.
I don't either. That sounds weird.
"Alone with the Alone" is paradoxical. The "Alone" one one is alone with, that One is Presence, called many names, most often God, and in Hinduism often Brahman. The Alone in Islam is Allah. In Judaism this One is often referred to as G-d or YHWH. In Kabbalah the Alone is called Ein Sof, in Hebrew "the endless, or the boundless." Buddhism speaks of the Dharmakaya. American aboriginals refer to, among others, the Great Spirit. These, and many other ways, one speaks of the Alone.
Okay, what's the paradox?
In being alone with the Alone, one is with everyone, everything. In one sense, this is why one can never be alone with God. This is so, for solitude is a shared solitude.
A shared solitude?
Solitude is singular and plural. Aloneness manifests through each of us, through every being, not just human, yet it is the same solitude. And Presence is this Solitude. This Presence is in every being. This is why Quakers, or Friends, speak of "that of God in everyone." Yet, where this statement falls short is, it is more than human with human; it is "that of God in everything." The tree, the bark on the tree, the limbs, the leaves, the sap flowing in the tree, ... all this shares solitude together and with us. Then you see the whole world is alive, is engodded, or in-god, simply manifesting God to the degree of capacity it is given to do so. This is the more inclusive meaning of the Incarnation, of the Word becoming, not merely became, flesh.
So, why do we often feel lonely? I see lonely people everywhere. They look sad. And I see my loneliness in them, also.
We are cut off from this realization. If you really want to be companioned, the whole world is waiting. Another person, a tree, the sunshine, a flower, a river, the air you breathe, an old and abandoned building, raindrops, early morning fog, birds, ... You are surrounded by beings you can commune with, you can befriend. Yet, our human arrogance has cut us off from communion with Nature. Aboriginal people know of this aliveness, to them, rightly, the whole world is alive. Most so-called advanced societies are cut off from Life, having chocked on materialism, denuding the landscape, inner and outer, of Sacredness. Just go in many churches. Rather than being a resurrection celebration, it is more like a burial service. In my own country, depression is rampant, so is obesity, even among children. If we do not fill up with Life, we fill up with substitutes. These substitutes protect persons from realizing the glory of his or her solitude, so the glory of being in communion, which is really being-in-Love. We know most deeply being-in-Love by knowing deeply our solitude. We are each potentially awake to we ourselves Being-being-in-Love.
I think this will help me understand mediation more. If I understand, meditation is about befriending ourselves?
Absolutely. The only way to the world is through yourself, for in yourself is the world. This is why meditation, even when it seems all you are doing is just sitting there, nothing really happening at all, including feeling boredom, is a profound act and path of compassion. When you go into times set aside for meditation, you may want to remind yourself that you are sitting alone with every being. You may want to do some ritual to embody this realization. I often do three chants beginning a meditation time, silently, that are really prayers for all beings. Meditation, see, is an act of communion. And, when you feel lonely, inside or outside meditation, you may find it encouraging to remind yourself you are sharing with every being in that moment who is also feeling lonely. Through meditation you discover the glory of being a human among other humans, among non-humans, as well.
*Brian Wilcox. 'the Light remains'. Flickr
(C)Brian K. Wilcox, 2019
The theme of "Lotus of the Heart" is 'Living in Love beyond Beliefs.' This work is presented by Brian K. Wilcox, of Maine, USA. You can order Brian's book An Ache for Union: Poems on Oneness with God through Love, through major online booksellers.