Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Jiddu Krishnamurti on Loneliness vs. Being Alone

Paraphrasing pretty tightly his comments in Seattle on 6 August 1950:

What is important is not to conquer, overcome or distract oneself from loneliness, but to understand loneliness by facing it and looking at it directly. In relationship we use others to cover up loneliness; most of what we do is a distraction and attempt to escape. But if we are to understand something, we must give our full attention to it.

How can we give our full attention to something if we are running away from it? How can we give our full attention to loneliness if we are afraid of it, if we are running away from it through some distraction such as work, what we call relationship that actually is not, through religious practice, through entertainment, through politics and power-seeking, through drink?

Many people laugh at loneliness and say, "That is only for the bourgeois; be occupied with something and forget it." But emptiness cannot be forgotten, it cannot be put aside. One must see that without understanding, loneliness in every form of action is a distraction, an escape, a process of self-isolation which only creates more conflict and misery.

If we go more deeply into it, the problem arises of whether what we call loneliness is an actuality or merely a word... a word that covers something that may or may not be what we think it is; what we have been taught to believe it is by our parents, our families, our teachers, our culture, the so-called authorities. Is not loneliness really just a combination of thought and emotion, a result of thinking? And moreover, a kind of thinking so common throughout our environment that we do not see it?

So the very giving of a name to that state may be the cause of the fear which prevents us from looking at it more closely.

Surely there is a difference between loneliness -- an idea and a corresponding set of emotions -- and merely being alone, as "by oneself without others nearby." Aloneness is neither loneliness nor isolation. Loneliness is the experience of ideas and emotions about being alone.

Aloneness is a state in which all influence has completely ceased, both the influence from outside and the inner influence of thinking and memory. Only when the mind is in that state of aloneness can it know the incorruptible. But to come to that, we must understand loneliness, the process of isolation, which is the activity of one's unobserved and unconsidered beliefs.

Alone is just alone. It is our ideas about being alone that make us lonely.