The search for happiness is one of the primary reasons people follow a spiritual path. And most people find, at least to some degree, what they are looking for – moments of transcendence from the burdens of life and a sense of meaning beyond the mundane. Many find it difficult, however, to sustain this joy throughout their daily lives, particularly when facing difficulties and challenges.
Loneliness, in particular, is a negative, uncomfortable feeling that returns again and again for many spiritual practitioners. As we progress on our path, we often find ourselves less understood by relatives and old friends, and we may feel less valued by the materialistic, egoistic standards of society. Even when we know in our heart that “all is one” and “all is connected,” we may still feel like we are isolated from everyone, and we long to find a sense of wholeness and belonging that will take us beyond this feeling.
Why We Feel Loneliness
The reason people feel loneliness is simple – we are alone on our journey. Yes, we can feel the ultimate reality beyond our aloneness, but every step of our journey is ultimately up to us as individuals. Only you can see your life through your eyes, and only you can feel what you feel, no matter how many other people offer you compassion and empathy. Even though you can be comforted by the knowledge that we are all connected, your experience of this life is always from your own singular perspective.
No one can truly understand the experiences that you have or really know all the aspects of your being, so in this sense you are alone. Even though the three-dimensional world of separation is an illusion, the sense of separateness is inevitably part of your experience of this life now. Your life is a dream of separation that has been fashioned by the universe in service of your soul’s growth.
How to Grow Beyond Loneliness
The secret of overcoming this feeling is to embrace your aloneness. Aloneness that we resist is called loneliness; aloneness that we embrace is called solitude. Loneliness fills us with sorrow and anxiety; solitude is the beginning of true wisdom and true self-knowledge. So, when you feel lonely, dive into that feeling rather than avoiding it. Solitude is your time to come back to the center of your being, free from the distractions and demands of other people.
By going into your aloneness, you break out of the “somethingness” of your ego identity and delve into your “nothingness,” the part of you that exists beyond the physical forms of this world. Every living thing on this planet experiences life and death as an individual, just like humans do. As we acknowledge this in ourselves, we find our common connection with all living things, and we grow more compassionate as a result.
If you can embrace ultimate aloneness, you will develop a very strong character. You will no longer be so easily hooked by others who want to define you according to their own agendas. And if you accept yourself without needing to be accepted by others, you will no longer be tempted to abandon your best self just to please others. In this way, through solitude you reconnect to your true self.
Mankind’s Ultimate Journey
In the Korean creation story, the Story of Mago Castle, humans are depicted as having lived in perfect harmony and togetherness. While living in this state of paradise, people drank directly from the milk of Mother Earth herself, who is known as Mago in Korea. But then something happened to drive people away from each other. One day a person decided to try eating a grape instead of Mago’s milk. As a result, his senses were awakened to the pleasures of the physical world. He told everyone else about this, so they all tried eating grapes.
Their five senses became so stimulated that they completely forgot about the other spiritual senses that kept them interconnected, and as a result people became separated from each other and developed conflicts and differences among themselves. Since that time, humans have felt the urgent need to return to the state of oneness that they left behind in that paradise.
Be Loved by Loving Others
You can start to overcome this separation by being of service to others. Everyone, like you, is stuck in this same lonely predicament. As you reach out to others, your heart will connect with theirs, and you will lose obsession with your own troubles and your oneness will be felt clearly. Then, your life will be about loving others instead of finding love for yourself. Although we can’t walk other people’s journey for them, we can help them bear their burden just by being there for them. We can have compassion because we know that pain, we know that longing.
And don’t forget to always be your own best friend, the one friend who will never abandon you. Whether you have a thousand friends or none at all, you are never truly alone if you honestly love and care for yourself and if you remain awakened to your true self. That self is always there for you – as the wisest, most gentle, and most loving friend of all.