ALAS! the barrenness of the age has not yet reached its limit. All men are radiant with happiness, as if enjoying a great feast, as if mounted on a tower in spring. I alone am still, and give as yet no sign of joy…. Other men have plenty, while I alone seem to have lost all…. Other men are full of light; I alone seem to be in darkness…. All men have their usefulness; I alone am stupid and clownish. LONELY THOUGH I AM and unlike other men, yet I revere the Foster-Mother, Tao.Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
Much has been said about the experience of loneliness. The general consensus is that everyone experiences loneliness at some point in their life, even if they’re surrounded by loved ones. And, no one seems to like feeling alone.
Yet, in the quote above, here is one of the very few enlightened humans who walked this planet talking about his own personal LONELINESS. Interestingly, Lao Tzu saw his loneliness as a preferable experience. It was something he deliberately CHOSE. And he was glad that he did.
The other day, I walked to a farmer’s market but arrived late and many of the sellers were sold out. I don’t love the overpriced trendiness of Seattle farmer’s markets, but there are a few vendors who sell biodynamically grown produce. I can’t find this level of quality anywhere else. The flavor of their vegetables is unmatched.
My usual vendors were sincerely sorry they were sold out. I wasn’t sure where to go next to buy food, so I found a place to sit down, and rest from the long walk. All of a sudden, although I was surrounded by crowds of people, I felt intensely alone.
Usually, I pick up lonely energies from people around me. You don’t even have to read their energy. You can see it straight in their eyes. Sometimes you see the most painful loneliness in people with a partner or in a group….
But this time, the loneliness was my own.
People feel lonely for all kinds of reasons. Personally, human relationships never seemed to work for me. Any time I felt hopeful about a relationship, it went south at some point. So, I extracted myself from hurtful people, healed my soul, and began to live my own life.
Ironically, through solitude, I began to enjoy relationships more than ever – when I no longer had any expectations from them. More genuine and trustworthy people began to drift into my life as well. But more authentic friends didn’t “cure my loneliness,” because loneliness doesn’t come from circumstances. Loneliness comes from being MYSELF. It comes from being DIFFERENT, and I like being my different self.
Loneliness not only allowed me to discover my own self, and enjoy my own life and my own company. Loneliness also allowed me to realize I’M NOT ALONE. When you discover yourself, you discover your connection to everyone. In reality, everything’s interconnected in one energy field – so that we ACTUALLY WANT TO BE ALONE. We each need some freakin’ space without pressure, so we can be our own person.
In any case, loneliness comes from within rather from external circumstances. It often comes from a disconnection with our own soul and therefore genuine soul connections with others. But in some cases, loneliness comes from being an individual – which is a GOOD thing.
As souls, we’re part of a soul family, but soul families are different from human families in that we are the SAME soul, and beyond that, we’re ultimately One Essence. We incarnate into this physical realm in order to experience separation and become individuals – with the joy of discovering our own likes, dislikes, passions, repulsions, personal skills, standards, and interests that are unique from everyone else. This is what makes the human experience so fulfilling – because we don’t experience this level of separation in other dimensions and therefore, we don’t have the opportunity to be, become, and experience our own soul – or rather, experience the ONE soul in our own unique way.
There’s no joy of the soul unless we’re an INDIVIDUALIZED soul, living true to self. There are also no RELATIONSHIPS unless there’s more than one being – or, INDIVIDUALS. And, there’s no joy in relationships without genuine soul connections – the same soul, but DIFFERENT.
We’re generally trained to think that loneliness (individuality) is something terrible and must be avoided at all cost, in which people sacrifice their own self for another person, or compromise and become like everyone else. That’s how relationships and a whole society can lead to loneliness. THERE ARE NO TRUE CONNECTIONS WHEN THERE ARE NO TRUE SOULS. The solution is to question programmed fears and beliefs about loneliness because in truth, loneliness is really only being yourself which is DIFFERENT from the crowd.
Before he spoke of the vast chasm between himself and other humans, Lao Tzu explained the misled thinking about loneliness:
Stop thinking, and end your problems.
What difference between yes and no? What difference between success and failure? [What difference between loneliness and relationships?]
Must you value what others value,
avoid what others avoid? [Must one dread what others dread?]
You can feel lonely and feel terrible, or you can feel lonely and celebrate it. Just because the rest of the world is afraid of loneliness, doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate the beauty, freedom, and self-fulfillment of it.
It’s by appreciating the beauty of your AUTHENTIC DIFFERENCES that aloneness becomes beautiful, and that makes authentic relationships possible as well.