In 2014 I visited Varanasi, India. According to Hindu religion, Varanasi is considered the most sacred of the seven sacred cities, and it is one of the most auspicious places to leave your body. If you die here, Shiva whispers in your ear the name of Rama, you will become free from the circle of birth and death and attain moksha, liberation.
After having spent nearly one week in conversation with different people, I one day found myself sitting in my room at Rahul Guest House, looking down at the river Ganges floating by. I could notice a feeling which I quickly recognized as being loneliness. Instinctively I could feel the urge to act – to treat the symptom. Since the problem seemed to be loneliness, the best medicine would then be to head up to the roof terrace and meet some people. I decided to do the opposite. For whatever reason, I decided I wanted to take a closer look at what was going on inside.
After having spent some time in silence, I started remembering the few times in my life where I have been ill. When I am lying in my bed, sick with the flu or something worse. I realized how I was feeling this very moment was equivalent to the feeling I have when being ill. Illness seems to bring me closer to myself – to my inner being. Instead of directing my attention outwardly, I now seem to remain inside my body. No one but the one being ill know exactly how it feels like. One may be surrounded by people doing their best to assist in every way possible, yet no one are fully able to share the experience with you. You are on your own.
These thoughts changed the way I felt. What first seemed to be loneliness had now changed into being alone – being with myself. Like the saying, “We are born alone and we will die alone.”
“You must make a distinction between two words: lonely and alone. In the dictionary they carry the same meaning, but those who have been meditating, they know the distinction. They are not the same, they are as different as possible. Loneliness is an ugly thing, loneliness is a depressive thing – it is sadness, it is an absence of the other. Loneliness is the absence of the other – you would like the other to be there, but the other is not, and you feel that and you miss them. YOU are not there in loneliness, the absence of the other is there. Alone? – it is totally different. YOU are there, it is your presence, it is a positive phenomenon. You don´t miss the other, you meet yourself.”