Loneliness can feel gut-wrenchingly awful, as though something, or someone, is missing. Aloneness feels like just the opposite – nothing is missing, no one is needed, we are complete.
Loneliness is a negative state of mind. Aloneness is positive. How do we get from one to the other?
“It is something essential for everyone to understand, that there are a few fundamental things which cannot be changed. This is one of the fundamentals: you cannot fight with darkness directly, with loneliness directly, with the fear of isolation directly. The reason is that all these things do not exist; they are simply absences of something, just as darkness is the absence of light.
“Now what do you do when you want the room not to be dark? You don’t do anything directly with darkness – or do you? You cannot push it out.
“There is no possible way to make some arrangement so that the darkness disappears. You have to do something with light. Now that changes the whole situation, and that’s what I call one of the essentials, fundamentals. You don’t even touch the darkness, you don’t think about it. There is no point; it does not exist, it is simply an absence.
“So just bring in light and you will not find darkness at all, because it was the absence of light, simply the absence of light. It was not something material with its own being, not something that exists – simply because light was not there, you got a false feeling of the existence of darkness.
“You can go on fighting with this darkness your whole life and you will not succeed. And just a small candle is enough to dispel it.
“You have to work for the light because it is positive, existential; it exists on its own. And once light comes, anything that was its absence automatically disappears.
“Loneliness is similar to darkness. You don’t know your aloneness. You have not experienced your aloneness and its beauty, its tremendous power, its strength. In the dictionaries, loneliness and aloneness are synonymous, but existence does not follow your dictionaries – and yet nobody has ever tried to make an existential dictionary which will not be contradictory to existence.
“Loneliness is absence. Because you don’t know your aloneness, there is fear and you feel lonely, so you want to cling to something – to somebody, to some relationship – just to keep the illusion that you are not lonely.
“But you know you are, hence the pain.
“On the one hand you are clinging to something which is not real, which is just a temporary arrangement – a relationship, a friendship. And while you are in the relationship you can create a little illusion to forget your loneliness. But this is the problem: although you can forget your loneliness for a moment, just the next moment you suddenly become aware that the relationship or the friendship is nothing permanent. Yesterday you did not know this man or this woman, you were strangers. Today you are friends. Who knows about tomorrow? Tomorrow you may be strangers again, hence the pain.
“The illusion gives a certain solace, but it cannot create the reality so that all fear disappears. It represses the fear, so on the surface you feel good – at least you try to feel good. You pretend to feel good to yourself: how wonderful the relationship is, how wonderful the man or the woman is. But behind the illusion – and the illusion is so thin that you can see behind it – there is pain in the heart because the heart knows perfectly well that tomorrow things may not be the same. And they are not the same.
“Your whole life’s experience supports this – that things go on changing. Nothing remains stable; you cannot cling to anything in a changing world. You wanted to make your friendship something permanent but your wanting is against the law of change, and that law is not going to make exceptions. It simply goes on doing its own thing. It will change everything.…
“What I am trying to say is that every effort that has been directed toward avoiding loneliness has failed, and will fail, because it is against the fundamentals of life. What is needed is not something in which you can forget your loneliness.
“What is needed is that you become aware of your aloneness, which is a reality. And it is so beautiful to experience it, to feel it, because it is your freedom from the crowd, from the other. It is your freedom from the fear of being lonely.
“Just the word lonely immediately reminds you that it is like a wound: something is needed to fill it. It is a gap and it hurts, something needs to be filled into it. Aloneness, the very word aloneness, does not have the same sense of a wound, of a gap that has to be filled. Aloneness simply means completeness. You are whole; there is no need of anybody else to complete you.
“So try to find your innermost center where you are always alone, have always been alone. In life, in death, wherever you are, you will be alone. But it is so full, it is not empty. It is so full and so complete and so overflowing with all the juices of life, with all the beauties and benedictions of existence, that once you have tasted your aloneness the pain in the heart will disappear. Instead, a new rhythm of tremendous sweetness, peace, joy, bliss, will be there.”