From Loneliness to Happiness
Making our way through life, we look at the world ‘out there’ from the confines of our body, just like we’re looking out of a window. Stuck in a body with thoughts and emotions, eventually we are alerted to our loneliness. To quash this feeling, we go out of our way to spend time with others, even though no one really knows us and nor do we ever really come to know anybody else.
If this sounds like you, then you will know that feeling lonely can often be overwhelmingly painful and on those occasions when there is no one to spend time with, you probably try to distract yourself with other activities, such as listening to music or watching television.
In Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. II, Maharaj Charan Singh states:
Everybody is lonely in this life – it’s a self-deception to think that somebody belongs to you or you belong to somebody. Sooner or later everybody realizes that one is alone in life – to think otherwise is just a self-deception. I think it’s a God-given gift when that feeling comes in us. Then we turn to the Father to hold on to something which belongs to us, to which we can belong.
Being aware of our aloneness is a huge step towards the unfolding of our spiritual nature. We begin to understand that there is little point in deliberately seeking the company of others to indulge in useless talk. Nonetheless, the camaraderie that one feels in the company of others continues to exert some pull over us because, after all, we’re human, social beings and the pull from the inside is not yet sufficiently strong. Yes, there have been times when we’ve longed to be alone, to sit in the garden or to drive to some isolated spot in the countryside and just be. To sit all alone, no talking, no distractions. We may close our eyes in relief at being alone at last, but sooner or later we start to desire the company of others. This is a cycle that goes on and on. Switching between the two scenarios – the desire to be alone and the desire to be with others – we find ourselves in a rather difficult situation. We have nothing permanently outside of us, and we have nothing permanently within – or so it appears to us. Unable to get rid of this aching loneliness, it no longer matters what we accomplish or how many well-wishers we may have.
It is at this point in our spiritual journey that we must persevere with all the strength we can muster and try to use the loneliness to our advantage.
As Maharaj Charan Singh explained in Spiritual Perspectives, Vol. I:
There is no permanent happiness to be found in this world. Some are comfortable in misery, others are uncomfortable in misery, but nobody can be happy in separation. That loneliness cannot leave you. It’s the yearning of the soul to become one with the Father. You cannot overcome that loneliness.
The feeling of loneliness is a great blessing that the Lord has given us. It is a natural urge that forces us to seek him within, although we don’t always recognize it as a benefit. Once, a distraught young woman sought the advice of an elder satsangi. In tears, she described how very lonely she was without friends, no one to talk to, and how she could bear her situation no longer. The elder told the girl how lucky she was not to have the distractions of so-called friends and reminded her that, in reality, she was not as alone as she thought – our true companion is always with us. Reflecting on this, we are better able to understand the words of the Bible from the Gospel of Saint John, “That they all may be one; as thou Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us.”
The path of Sant Mat teaches us that we are never alone; the Master is always with us, looking past our mistakes and shortcomings. So instead of feeling lonely, we could try to feel his constant presence and the unconditional love and protection that surround us. Our awareness of this will emerge over time as we persevere with meditation. Eventually, the time will come when it becomes natural for us, as devotees, to enjoy being alone. The idle talk and other worldly activities will no longer be of interest as the focus of our attention turns within.
So, making our way through life, instead of looking ‘out there’ at the world from the confines of our body, through the window of our eyes, we could reverse the process by looking ‘in there’ at our Lord, our Master and travelling companion. Looking through the window of our heart with the eyes of our soul, we will never feel alone again.
In truth everything and everyone
is a shadow of the Beloved,
and our seeking is his seeking,
and our words are his words …
we search for him here and there,
while looking right at him.
Sitting by his side we ask,
“Oh Beloved, where is the Beloved?”
Rumi quoted in Legacy of Love