BENGALURU: Do you know what loneliness means? Some of you may be unfamiliar with that word, but you know the feeling very well. You try going out for a walk alone, or being without a book, without someone to talk to, and you will see how quickly you get bored. You know that feeling well enough, but you don’t know why you get bored, you have never inquired into it. If you inquire a little into boredom you will find that the cause of it is loneliness.
It is in order to escape from loneliness that we want to be together, we want to be entertained, to have distractions of every kind: gurus, religious ceremonies, prayers, or the latest novels. Being inwardly lonely we become mere spectators in life; and we can be the players only when we understand loneliness and go beyond it. After all, most people marry and seek other social relationships because they don’t know how to live alone.
Not that one must live alone; but, if you marry because you want to be loved, or if you are bored and use your job as a means of forgetting yourself, then you will find that your whole life is nothing but an endless search for distractions. Very few go beyond this extraordinary fear of loneliness; but one must go beyond it, because beyond it lies the real treasure. You know, there is a vast difference between loneliness and aloneness. Some of the younger students may still be unaware of loneliness, but the older people know it: the feeling of being utterly cut off, of suddenly being afraid without apparent cause.
The mind knows this fear when for a moment it realises that it can rely on nothing, that no distraction can take away the sense of self-enclosing emptiness. That is loneliness. But aloneness is something entirely different; it is a state of freedom which comes into being when you have gone through loneliness and understand it. In that state of aloneness you don’t rely on anyone psychologically because you are no longer seeking pleasure, comfort, gratification. It is only then that the mind is completely alone, and only such a mind is creative.
All this is part of education: to face the ache of loneliness, that extraordinary feeling of emptiness which all of us know, and not be frightened when it comes; not to turn on the radio, lose oneself in work, or run to the cinema, but to look at it, go into it, understand it. There is no human being who has not felt or will not feel that quivering anxiety. It is because we try to run away from it through every form of distraction and gratification – through God, through work, through writing poems or repeating certain words which we have learnt by heart – that we never understand that anxiety when it comes upon us.
So, when the pain of loneliness comes upon you, confront it, look at it without any thought of running away. If you run away you will never understand it, and it will always be there waiting for you around the corner. Whereas, if you can understand loneliness and go beyond it, then you will find there is no need to escape, no urge to be gratified or entertained, for your mind will know a richness that is incorruptible and cannot be destroyed.
– Jiddu Krishnamurti