Anthony De Mello: Loneliness is cured by contact with reality

 

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Loneliness is not cured by human company. Loneliness is cured by contact with reality.

– Anthony De Mello

Yes, in a few different ways.

The reality of what that loneliness wants and needs.

The reality of how the loneliness is created by our mind.

The reality of what we are and what loneliness is.

And in more detail.

The loneliness may want to be met in presence, patience, and rest. When I shun it, it feels isolated and more lonely. When I am present with it, it can come home. I can find support in doing this through Natural Rest, ho’oponopono, tonglen, or just a simple gentle presence and kindness.

The experience of loneliness is created by sensations combined with imaginations. It’s created by beliefs. And I can explore these and see how my mind is creating it. I can explore this through different forms of inquiry.

When what I am notices itself, and notices loneliness as that too, there is a sense of relief and coming home. Presence (awakeness, love) recognizes itself as all there is, including loneliness and any other content of experience. Loneliness recognizes itself as presence, awakeness, love. This can come through natural rest and inquiry, and other forms of explorations as well.

As Jesus said, the truth will set you free. And the truth is found at several different levels. Another one, not mentioned above, is that loneliness is here to protect the (imagined) self and comes from love. Recognizing that in itself can be a relief.

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Loneliness in the dark night

 

Heartache and loneliness has come up for me, off and on, over the last few years.

My sense is that it’s from early in life, perhaps even infancy or before. I have an image of my mother seeming preoccupied and absent, and longing for love and a deeper connection. I also have an image of before incarnation where it’s been conveyed to me that it’s time to incarnate, not really wanting to, not speaking up for that part of me, and feeling deeply wounded in the incarnation. A deep sense of loss, loneliness, and heartache, of having (apparently) “lost” the heavenly realm, the divine, and God.

Anything in us that’s not met with love, or recognized as love, will surface at some point in the process of reality waking up to itself. Much of it comes up during the dark nights, and perhaps especially the dark night of the soul. (Following illumination.) What’s surfacing are typically emotions and parts of ourselves we are trained to think of as undesirable, or perhaps even signifying that something is wrong. And it’s not surprising that among these are loneliness, heartache and longing.

These may also be triggered by things happening during a dark night of the soul. We may lose friends. (Who are afraid of what they see happening for us, or try to fix and then give up and retreat, or we “push them away” through our own reactiveness to our pain.) We may lose other things too, such as identities, capabilities and health, and even our earlier and apparently solid and easy connection with the divine. If there is fatigue, we may not be drawn or able to socialize as much as before. And our old ways of socializing may not feel as meaningful as they used to.

Whatever is happening, the “solution” is very simple although not always so easy:

Find love for what’s here, and recognize it as love. (Emotional pain, physical pain, grief, loneliness, heartache, hope, fear and more.)

Notice the stories (a) about what’s happening, and (b) triggering it, and explore these with curiosity. (Inquiry.)

Feel sensations as sensations. Inquire into stories about them (labels, what they mean), and other stories associated with them.

Release tension through shaking. (Neurogenic tremors, TRE etc.)

Find support by others who have gone through it, and other like minded people.

Spend time in nature, and doing simple physical activities.

Also, practically, what was my part in the situations that trigger grief, loneliness and heartache?

For instance, with my first girlfriend, we had a deep soul connection and amazing alignment at all levels. I was deeply committed to the relationship, and saw us getting married and having children together. She already had a son, and understandably wanted us to get married as quickly as possible. I was young and wanted to slow it down, and – perhaps more importantly – I felt paralyzed when she gave me an ultimatum, unable to do or say what I really wanted. So it fell apart. Similar things has happened many times in my life, and much of it is because of getting paralyzed at important moments.

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Loneliness

 

Bubbles of loneliness keeps coming up – often for a few hours at a time. These are old wounds from childhood which were not resolved then, so surface to be seen, felt and loved now.

How is it to open my heart to this loneliness? To the fear behind it? How is it to bring attention to the sensations of the breath for a minute or two, and then bring attention to the heart area and allow loneliness and whatever fleeting experience is here just as it is?

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Knot of loneliness

 

I woke up at 3am last night noticing a bottomless sense of loneliness. It was quite faint, but very clear. And in my imagination, it was very small, almost like a pin head, and infinite in its loneliness.

I brought attention to this sense of loneliness and stayed with it for a while. Being with it, with kindness.

It felt primeval. It seemed to go back to my earliest days, fueled by a basic sense of separation, of never quite connecting with myself, others, life as fully as what I sense is possible. Sometimes deepened by times in my life I experienced loss – of people, situations, or dreams and hopes. It felt like a point where all experience of loneliness is stored.

This primeval sense of loneliness comes from the equally primeval sense of separation, created when the story of I is identified with. Recognizing this is healing in itself, especially as the sense of separation softens and dissolves. And yet, it is good to explore this further. For instance through voice dialog.

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Lonesome path?

 

From a recent comment, which brought up some curiosity about it for myself:

No wonder gnostics are so alone, individual in their work.

It is true that any path of growing and waking up is alone work. It is something we have to do for ourselves. And it is an individual path as well, partly since our knots – in their configuration and emphasis – is particular to us.

Yet there is another side to it too.

Often, we can find teachers and groups that share our interest and aim. It is usually not a complete match, but that is a good thing since it brings it back to us. We are not able to mindlessly absorb and follow the group, since our own path has partly universal dynamics and is partly individual.

And while there may be periods where we do experience it as a lonesome path, the growing and waking up itself tends to invite in a great sense of belonging as well. Of finding in ourselves what we see in others – the wider world as a mirror for what is right here now. And of all as the play of awakeness itself.

We find (see, feel, appreciate) a shared humanity right here, which invites in a deepening connection with those we meet as a human being in the world. We find in ourselves what we see in the wider world. And we find all as this awakeness itself, untouched by the mental field overlay of I-Other.

Increasingly alone at the surface, and at home in the depth

 

Writing the previous post, I realize that the process of loneliness and belonging happens on three levels…

First at our identity level, where we first move out of conventional identities and into more widely embracing ones, and then out of identities altogether. The identities are there, but not identified with. This can give a sense of social loneliness, of not being able to really believe in group or conventional identities anymore, because they are revealed as too narrow, and not being able to even believe in the solidity of the human drama… because we see through, and have found peace with, the drama in our own life.

Then, as human beings, where we deepen into more of who we are which is also our shared humanity. At this level, we find ourselves as part of the human community, recognizing in you what I find in me, and the other way around. This opens for a deepening recognition and empathy, which can be both painful and sweet. Here, there is deepening sense of belonging at our human level, below all the many surface manifestations and differences.

Finally, as Spirit, I find myself as awake emptiness and form absent of a separate self. There is only the Ground which already and always free to allow any and all surface manifestations. This is the final homecoming. The final release of any sense of I and Other.

Individuation and connections

 

As we mature and develop, we naturally grow beyond conventional identities, and eventually beyond identities themselves. First, we shed the conventional ones of gender, age, social norms, and so on. Eventually, our identification may go out of identities altogether, finding ourselves as awake emptiness allowing a fluidity of any and all identities.

Increasingly lonely

As this happens, we find ourselves increasingly alone, at least in a certain way…

  • We cannot find belonging or comfort through group identities or by blindly following social norms (nor in breaking them)
  • Our views and experiences are often not aligned with conventional views
  • We don’t play the game of narrow identification anymore
  • We don’t play the game of splits so much, seeing me as right and you as wrong
  • The typical human drama, with all its variations, has less and less charge for us (which sometimes makes us dull, although understanding, companions for those caught up in it)
  • We have to stand on our own feet

This process has many rewards, and we do find companions on the way. Freed from much of the drama, there is a new clarity and new aspects of existence and our human life opens up to us.

And deepening sense of belonging and connection

And although it may leave us lonely in some of these ways, not being able to believe in group identities and less caught up in the human drama, it also brings a deepening sense of belonging and connection.

As I learn about what I see in you in myself, as more and more of what I am is included in my conscious view on myself, I deepen into my own humanity, which is also our shared humanity. I find myself in you, and you in me. We are perfect mirrors for each other. There is a deepening into the sweetness, and sometimes pain, of our shared humanity.

And as identification goes out of identities altogether, finding myself as awake emptiness and form, and as emptiness as the Ground of it all, there is another deepening into intimacy. This one, as an intimacy with my life, with Existence itself. First, as a growing sense of no separation, as oneness. And then through the falling away of the core identity as a separate self, allowing wide open space for anything arising, without any sense of separation.

This is the deep homecoming. The final release of any sense of I and Other.

Increasingly lonely on the surface, and increasingly at home in the depth

So there is a process of being increasingly lonely on the surface of it, in society. Not being able to wholeheartedly play along with the games of separation anymore.

There is a process of a deepening and more intimate connection with oneself and others, through a widening embrace of who I am as a human being.

And a process of any sense of separation falling away, leaving only the wide open space for anything to arise, the void already and always allowing it all.