Lately I’ve been thinking about loneliness…
Like when the other villagers come around and say, “Nothing personal, Old Dude. But you just don’t mean that much to us anymore. Off you go.” And then they put me on an ice floe and leave me for polar bear chow.
Do you ever feel like that?
I’ve heard that a true yogi is content to live as a hermit and die alone, knowing full well that no one will ever remember that he lived.
Just thinking about that makes me lonely. Is that where I’m trying to get with my practice?
It may be that I think too much about where I am trying to get.
I can try to think like I woke up in a Himalayan cave this morning. But that’s dropping a made-up non-reality onto my mind. And my current mind wouldn’t decide to be a hermit. So, I can’t think like a hermit.
Maybe hermit consciousness doesn’t get lonely.
If I look right here with the consciousness I do have, I feel separate from you and from everybody else. I have relationships that are important to me. But come right down to it, you are not me and I am not you. I’m set up to feel separate, crave relationship and fear its loss – all at the same time. I’m set up to fear my own core loneliness.
The old yogis said that ego – asmita, the “I” maker – makes me feel that way.
I am in relationship with people who are not me. Those relationships tell me how I’m doing. If I am loved and respected, if I am useful, then I feel good about how I’m doing and I feel like my life has meaning.
And if I lost those relationships…
There isn’t much to say about one point in space.
With two points in space there is relationship, and I can talk about what it means.
One point in space doesn’t even have an observer.
Falling back into that ego-separateness that seems so ultimate. No refuge in the loving and affirming relationship that gives meaning. Adrift on the ice floe.
But I learn from my yoga practice that separateness is an illusion. It comes out of a mistake I make about my own true nature. I mistakenly think that I am a free-standing, free-floating, self-creating, self-existing individual without any necessary connection to the all. The truth is, we are all interdependent and it couldn’t be otherwise. Thich Nhat Hanh says that we “inter-are.”
We are of the deep common.
Indra’s net – An infinite number of faceted jewels, each infinitely reflecting the infinity of reflection in each of the others.
In time, my practice will shift my consciousness toward realization.
For now, I want to be loved and needed. And not that I want to change that. My practice is not a practice of not caring – it is a practice of dropping my guard.
I may have some understanding of these matters, but we shouldn’t count on that.
I go to my mirror and I speak to my reflection, saying…
Do you withhold love from the loneliness you feel? That makes it ache all the more. Better to pull it close and speak sweetly. Is there no one around to reflect you back to yourself? Love need not be reflected in order to know that it is. Love surpasses reflection; it is the ground of your being.
I mean those words; they are as true as I know how to make them. They give me comfort.
I must lose interest in my comfort. Spiritual practice cannot be on my own terms.
Success may come disguised as failure.
If all goes well, I expect that one fine morning I will find myself forced onto an ice floe, listening for the soft splash of huge paws coming my way through an icy sea.