One of the things that independent seekers face on the spiritual path is loneliness.It’s inevitable if we are committed to avoid taking on other’s belief systems and yearn to experience what is true for ourselves.
In fact, succumbing to loneliness and trying to relieve it is sometimes the reason people become blind followers. They would rather trade in the comfort of being in the crowd of religious homogeneity than the insecurity of the solitary quest. There is a certain value of joining a sanga or community but when we give up our own discernment of what is true and not true to avoid loneliness we can become a perpetual student of dogma rather than the source of our own realization. Its often a requirement of the committed spiritual seeker to leave the pack for awhile to achieve this.
Even if we are not on a spiritual path, the experience of loneliness is part of the fabric of life. It can happen when we move to a different city, lose a job, experience the loss of a loved one, leave a relationship and break-up with a friend. In the grief a part of ourselves can go with that person, location or job and we can feel like that piece is missing. Or we can judge an aspect of ourselves harshly and push it aside and then feel an emptiness inside.
So when we spend some solitary time either on an organized silent retreat or just time by ourselves this loneliness can arise. We can feel like we miss our loved ones and want to reach out to them. And if that doesn’t happen we may try other ways to avoid the loneliness like eating junk food, smoking weed, watching a lot of TV, going to bars, etc . But the activity does not relieve the emotion. No amount of doingness can solve something that is in our beingness. It may be useful in these times to ask ourselves: “What is happening here? Am I trying to bi-pass my loneliness, or trying to get others to complete me and make me feel whole or hoping that when others love me, I will feel love for myself?” What is it I am missing? What it is I am really yearning for?”
I have been through this and what I have found is that that there is no way to get over or through or around loneliness. There is only getting it...being with it. The way to resolve it is to let the loneliness arise and go into it and not resist it. We need to feel the yearning deeply in our heart and soul.
The Yearning for Self
We may experience the essential painful individuality of our being in the universe. We may cry out to God to relieve the suffering of it all, to comfort our lonely heart. It may last a long time. It may feel like forever. But eventually it will burn itself out . We may come to realize we have been trying to get others to fill us and all attempts to do this are futile because no other can fill the empty hole inside.
We will see that the cry for another is essentially the cry for our true self and the part of us that was missing will start to return . Gradually a deeper peace will arrive and we will feel more complete and whole. We will enjoy spending time with ourselves because we will have become our own best friends.
And when we do spend time with our loved ones or friends it will be more natural relaxed and less co-dependent. No longer will there be the puzzling neediness of trying to grab a piece of another to force fit it into the missing space of ourselves and all the attendant unconscious wheeling, dealing and stealing of psychic energy that goes with the attempt: “Well if you do this for me, I’ll this for you” “If you ignore this about me, I’ll ignore this about you” etc
You will notice when you are alone you are no longer lonely. In fact you will feel like you are gathering more of yourself to yourself so that when you are in the company of others you will have more of youself to share. Solitary time will be soul-itary time. Aloneness will be experienced as all-oneness.
And is this not what others really want from us: the fullness of who we really are?