Thursday, February 4, 2010

How am I to overcome loneliness?

Questioner: How am I to overcome loneliness?
Krishnamurti: Can you overcome loneliness?  Whatever you conquer has to be conquered again and again, does it not?  What you understand comes to an end, but that which you conquer can never come to an end.  The battling process only feeds and strengthens that which you fight.
Now, what is this loneliness of which most of us are aware?  We know it, and we run away from it, do we not?  We take flight from it into every form of activity.  We are empty, lonely, and we are afraid of it, so we try to cover it up by some means or other – meditation, the search for God, social activity, the radio, drink, or what you will – we would do anything else rather than face it, be with it, understand it.  Running away is the same, whether we do it through the idea of God or drink.  As long as one is escaping from loneliness, there is no essential difference between the worship of God and addiction to alcohol.  Socially, there may be a difference; but psychologically, the man who runs away from himself, from his own emptiness, whose escape is his search for God, is on the same level as the drunkard.
What is important, then, is not to overcome loneliness, but to understand it, and we cannot understand it if we do not face it, if we do not look at it directly, if we are continually running away from it.  And our whole life is a process of running away from loneliness, is it not?  In relationship we use others to cover up loneliness; our pursuit of knowledge, our gathering of experience, everything we do, is a distraction, an escape from that emptiness.  So these distractions and escapes must obviously come to an end.  If we are to understand something, we must give our full attention to it.  And how can we give full attention to loneliness if we are afraid of it, if we are running away from it through some distractions?  So when we really want to understand loneliness, when our intention is to go fully, completely into it, because we see that there can be no creativeness as long as we do not understand that inward insufficiency which is the fundamental cause of fear – when we come to that point, then every form of distraction ends, does it not?  Many people laugh at loneliness and say, ‘Oh, that is only for the bourgeois; for God’s sake, be occupied with something and forget it’.  But emptiness cannot be forgotten, it cannot be put aside.
So if one would really understand this fundamental thing which we call loneliness, all escape must cease; but escape does not cease through worry, through seeking a result, or through any action of desire.  One must see that without understanding loneliness every form of action is a distraction, an escape, a process of self-isolation, which only creates more conflict, more misery.  To see that fact is essential, for tonly then can one face loneliness.
Then, if we go still more deeply into it, the problem arises of whether what we call loneliness is an actuality, or merely a word.  Is loneliness an actuality, or merely a word which covers something that may mot be what we think it is?  Is not loneliness a thought, the result of thinking?  That is, thinking is verbalization based on memory; don’t we, with that verbalization, with that thought, with that memory, look at the state which we call lonely?  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;  and if we do not give it a name, which is fabricated by the mind, then is that state lonely?
Surely, there is a difference between loneliness and being alone.  Loneliness is the ultimate in the process of self-isolation.  The more you are conscious of yourself, the more isolated you are, and self-consciousness is the process of isolation.  But aloneness is not isolation.  There is aloneness only when loneliness has come to an end.  Aloneness is a state in which all influence has completely ceased,  both the influence from outside, and the inner influence of memory; and only when the mind is in that state of aloneness can it know the incorruptible.  But to come to that, we must understand loneliness, this process of isolation, which is the self and its activity.  So the understanding of the self is the beginning of the cessation of isolation, and there fore of loneliness.
~ Krishnamurti from a talk in Seattle, in 1950