From Loneliness to Aloneness
Osho on loneliness and aloneness
WHY IS THE MODERN MAN FEELING SO LONELY?
MAN HAS ALWAYS FELT LONELY, because man basically IS alone. We are born alone, and we will die alone. And in the middle we can only pretend to be together. Aloneness remains unaffected.
It becomes an undercurrent, it goes underground.
Man has always been alone, but modern man is feeling it more for a certain reason — because modern man for the first time has time enough to think about his own self. In the past, the struggle for bread and butter was so much that it kept people occupied from the early morning to the late night, and then too they were not able to feed themselves and their children enough.
And that’s exactly the case in the East even today. Modern man in an Indian village is not feeling lonely. He has no time to feel anything at all! He feels hungry, not lonely; he needs a shelter, a house. These things — feelings of loneliness — he cannot afford. These feelings start surfacing only when a society becomes a little affluent. When people are well-fed, well-clothed, well-sheltered, well-employed — when the ordinary necessities of life are fulfilled, then the real problems of life arise. Then one suddenly becomes aware that “I am lonely, even in the crowd I am lonely.” This is a higher need. There is a hierarchy of needs.
First physical needs come. If physical needs are not fulfilled, you will not have psychological needs. Once physical needs are fulfilled, then psychological needs arise — those are higher. One thinks of music, poetry, painting; one thinks of art, aesthetics — those are higher needs. One thinks of Shakespeare, Milton, Kali Das, Rabindranath, Kahlil Gibran; one thinks of Wagner, Beethoven, Leonardo, Van Gogh, Picasso…. These are higher needs. A hungry man cannot understand Beethoven. Howsoever great the music is, it cannot fill his stomach. And he is so hungry that he would like to kill the musician rather than listen to the music. He will not bother about great works of art; rather, he will be interested in Karl Marx and his Communist Manifesto. Once physical needs are fulfilled, psychological needs arise.
You will be surprised to know: I receive many letters from Soviet Russia. They cannot even write to me directly, because then those letters will never come. First the Russian government and then the Indian government…. If there were only the Indian government there would be a chance. But the Russian government… and they are very methodical. So those letters are given to visitors, tourists, to Switzerland, and then those letters are dropped in London or in Berlin or in Paris, then they come to me. Many people write that they would like to come here, but it is impossible. My books are being read, but in an underground way. They are circulating from one person to another… but officially you cannot carry my books in a communist country.
Russia is coming closer and closer to that point where physical needs are fulfilled, and psychological needs will arise, and spiritual needs are the highest in the hierarchy. Once psychological needs are fulfilled — you have heard great music, you have seen great paintings, you have read great poetry — then what? Sooner or later, those things also prove to be games, beautiful games, but games all the same.
Then the ultimate starts knocking on your doors, and
when the ultimate knocks on your doors you feel REALLY LONELY, lonely in this whole universe. And that is the beginning of meditation. If you feel lonely and if your feeling of loneliness has some penetration, intensity, passion in it, then you start meditating. Meditation is a way to come to terms with one’s loneliness, to have an encounter with one’s own loneliness rather than escaping from it, diving deep into it and seeing what exactly it is. And then you are in for a surprise. If you go into your loneliness you will be surprised: at the very center of it it is not lonely at all — there resides aloneness which is a totally different phenomenon. The circumference consists of loneliness and the center consists of aloneness. The circumference consists of solitariness and the center of solitude. And once you have known your beautiful aloneness, you will be a totally different person — you will never feel lonely.
Even in the mountains or in the deserts where you will be absolutely alone, you will not feel lonely — because in your aloneness you will know God is with you, in your aloneness you are so deeply rooted in God that who cares whether there is somebody else outside or not? You are so full inside, so rich inside….Right now, even in the crowd you are lonely. And I am saying: if you know your aloneness, even in your loneliness you will not be lonely. But modern man IS suffering…
Ira quit college, got himself a backpack and began hitchhiking around the United States. After he had been gone more than a year, he telephoned home. “Hello, Ma. How are you?”
“Just fine, son. When are you coming home? I will fix you some chopped liver and chicken soup and a beautiful pot roast.
“I am still pretty far away.”
“Oh, son,” cried the desperate woman, “just come home and I will fix your favourite oatmeal cookies.”
“I don’t like oatmeal cookies!” said the boy.
“You don’t?” asked the woman.
“Say,” said Ira, “is this Century 57682?”
“Then I must have the wrong number.”
“Does that mean you are not coming?” asked the woman.
People are really lonely. The woman asked, “Does that mean you are not coming?” Man has never been so lonely because man has never been able to fulfill the lower desires, needs before. For the first time in the West, man has been able to fulfill all lower desires; now the higher desires are asserting themselves. This is a good sign. It looks like a curse — it is not — it is a blessing in disguise. The days of the West turning East have come. The misery is that the East is turning West. Man seems to be so foolish. By the time the West turns East, you will find the East has become West. And this way the sorry-go-round continues….You can see it here. Why don’t you see so many Indians here? This is not their need. What I am sharing here has nothing to do with them. The desire for it has not yet arisen. Even when sometimes they come, they don’t ask about meditation, they don’t ask about sannyas, they don’t ask about love — no, not at all.
Just the other day I received a letter saying, “Why don’t you open a few hospitals, a few schools…? Why don’t you teach your sannyasins to serve the poor?”
The poor have been served down the ages and they are still poor. Poverty cannot be destroyed by serving the poor — that much is absolutely certain. Poverty can be destroyed only if a new vision of life is given to them.
They are poor because their philosophy makes them poor; they are poor because their very attitude towards life keeps them poor. They are poor BECAUSE of themselves! They don’t need compassion: they need education. They don’t need service: they need to be shaken into awareness. But nobody wants to be shaken out of their own dreams and sleep. Hence they are angry at me.
Hospitals are there; a few more can be added. Schools are there; a few more can be added. But that is NOT going to help. That is like throwing colour with teaspoons into the ocean: it is not going to colour the ocean. We have to change the whole fundamental.
Why has India remained so poor for so many centuries? The reason must be very deep. The reason is that the Indian mind is life-negative. The reason is that the Indian mind lives in a division: this world and that. The reason is that the Indian mind is against materialism. If you are against materialism you will remain poor, and that is your own decision; then it is your own fate decided by you yourself.
A real spirituality has to be based on scientific materialism. Matter and consciousness are not two things, just as body and consciousness are not two things — aspects of one phenomenon. This world has to be loved, Then this world yields, gives its secrets to you.
The West has committed one mistake, that there is no spiritualism, only materialism is enough. So their basic needs are fulfilled, but the higher needs are torturing them, making them commit suicide or go mad. And the East has committed the other mistake: that spiritualism can exist without materialism, so the East has become like a ghost, a soul without a body. The West is a body without a soul, a corpse: and the East is a ghost, a soul without a body. My effort here is to somehow bring East and West closer and closer, so everybody can have a body and everybody can have a soul. Materialism and spiritualism should be two aspects of one life vision. Then the poverty will disappear. The earth is rich enough, and man’s intelligence is there — we can make it even richer.
But you don’t see Indians here, not many, very few. Those few are those who are intelligent enough to see that even if lower desires are fulfilled, nothing will be fulfilled. Those few are born in the East, but they are really contemporary, they are modern. They have seen what has happened in the West. And even if India becomes rich, this is going to happen: the West is not happy; even if India becomes rich it is not going to be happy either. So
happiness has to be searched for in some other dimension.
That dimension is: entering your loneliness till you come upon aloneness. The first glimpse of aloneness is satori. The second glimpse, the second satori: you become established in your aloneness, rooted. And the third, the ultimate satori, what we call samadhi in India, is the state when you are no more separate from your aloneness — you ARE your aloneness. And then one starts overflowing like a fountain. Out of that aloneness arises the fragrance of love, and out of that aloneness arises creativity — because out of that aloneness God starts flowing. You become a hollow bamboo… he starts singing. But the song is always his.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
Discourse Series: The Fish in the Sea is Not Thirsty
Chapter title: Untimely Sannyasination
16 April 1979 am in Buddha Hall
Osho has spoken on ‘aloneness, meditation, love, creativity, spiritualism’ in many of His discourses. More on the subject can be referred to in the following books/discourses:
- Come Follow To You, Vol 4
- From Unconciousness to Consciousness
- The Secret of Secrets, Vol 2
- Vigyan Bhairav Tantra, Vol 2
- The New Dawn
- The Path of Love
- Sufis: The People of the Path, Vol 1
- From Death to Deathlessness
- Unio Mystica, Vol 1
- The Book of Wisdom
- A Sudden Clash of Thunder
- Communism and Zen Fire, Zen Wind
- I Say Unto You, Vol 2