Loneliness is absence of the other. Aloneness is the presence of oneself. Aloneness is very positive. It is a presence, overflowing presence. You are so full of presence that you can fill the whole Universe with your presence, and there is no need for anybody.
Without the other, we don't know who we are; we lose our identity. The other becomes a mirror and we can see our faces in it.
Without the other, we are suddenly thrown to ourselves. Great discomfort and inconvenience arise, because we don't know who we are. When we are alone we are in very strange company, very embarrassing company. We don't know with who we are.
With the other, things are clear, defined. We know the name, we know the form, we know the man, or the woman - Hindu, Christian, Indian, American - there are some ways to define the other. How to define yourself?
Deep down there is an abyss. undefinable. There is an abyss. emptiness. You start merging into that. It creates fear. You become frightened. You want to rush towards the other. The other helps you to hang out; the other helps you to remain out. When there is nobody, you are simply left with your emptiness.
Aloneness is Your Nature
The first thing to realise is that whether you want or not, you are alone. Aloneness is your very nature. You can try to forget it; you can try not to be alone by making friends, having lovers, mixing in the crowd. But whatever you do remains just on the surface. Deep inside, your aloneness is unreachable, untouchable. A strange accident happens to every human being: as he is born the very situation of his birth begins in a family. And there is no other way, because the human child is the weakest child. Other animals are born complete. A dog is going to remain a dog his whole life, he is not going to evolve, grow. Yes, he will become aged, old, but he will not become more intelligent, he will not become more aware, he will not become enlightened. In that sense all the animals remain exactly at the point of their birth; nothing essential changes in them. Their death and their birth are horizontal - in one line. Only man has the possibility of going vertical, upwards, not just horizontal. Man is born in a family amongst human beings. From the very first moment he is not alone; hence, he gets a certain psychology of always remaining with people. In aloneness he starts feeling scared... unknown fears. He is not exactly aware of what he is afraid of, but as he moves out of the crowd something inside him becomes uneasy. It is because of this reason he never comes to know the beauty of aloneness; the fear prevents him.
Fear of being alone
Nobody wants to be alone. The greatest fear in the world is to be left alone. People do a thousand and one things just not to be left alone. You imitate your neighbours, so you are just like them, and you are not left alone. You lose your individuality, you lose your uniqueness, you just become imitators, because, if you are not imitators, you will be left alone.
You become part of the crowd, you become part of a church, you become part of an organisation. Somehow, you want to merge with a crowd where you can feel at ease, that you are not alone, there are so many people like you — so many Mohammedans like you, so many Hindus like you, so many Christians, millions of them. you are not alone.
To be alone is really the greatest miracle. That means now you don't belong to any Church, you don't belong to any organisation, you don't belong to any theology, you don't belong to any ideology — Socialist, Communist, Fascist, Hindu, Christian, Jain, Buddhist - you don't belong, you simply are. And, you have learnt how to love your indefinable, ineffable reality. You have come to know how to be with yourself.
Absence of the other
To illustrate one example. If the whole world disappears the Zen master will not miss anything. If suddenly by some magic the whole world disappears, and this Zen master is left alone, he will be as happy as ever; he will not miss anything. He will love that tremendous emptiness, this pure infinity. He will not miss anything, because he has arrived home. He knows that he himself is enough unto himself.
This does not mean that a man who has become enlightened and has come home does not live with others. In fact, only he is capable of being with others. Because, he is capable of being with himself, he becomes capable of being with others. If you are not capable of being with yourself, how can you be capable of being with others?
Learn to be alone
A man who loves his aloneness is capable of love, and a man who feels loneliness is incapable of love.
A man who is happy with himself is full of love, flowing. He does not need anybody's love; hence, he can give. When you are in need, how can you give? You are a beggar. And, when you can give, much love comes towards you. It is a response, a natural response. The first lesson of love is to learn how to be alone.
Try it, to have the feel. Just sit alone sometimes. That's what meditation is all about - just sitting alone, doing nothing. Just try. If you start feeling lonely then there is something missing in your being, then you have not been able yet to understand who you are.
Then go deeper into this loneliness until you come to a layer when suddenly loneliness transforms itself into aloneness. It transforms - it is a negative aspect of the same phenomenon.
Loneliness is the negative aspect of aloneness. If you go deeper into it, one moment is bound to come when suddenly you will start feeling the positive aspect of it.
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