Tantra understands that all suffering comes from the feeling of separation. This sense of separateness of ourselves, as individual beings, independent from the earth, from other humans, from the divine - it is this feeling that ignites all our suffering. It is this same feeling that can be transmuted into longing for the divine.
Loneliness is born from this feeling of separation. Loneliness is the ache of loss of authentic connection, which can have little or nothing to do with who we are surrounding ourselves with. Whether we recognize this ache of separation as a spiritual or social disconnection, the impact is the same. Loneliness is a part of the human condition. Even in the most connected communities, individuals still experience deep longing and loneliness. It is an ingredient of human life and the spiritual process.
So first, we must acknowledge that our loneliness is not strictly a social disconnection (although I will address this later on) but the root of it is spiritual. The pain of loneliness, of longing, is what spurs many practitioners and even the greatest saints to turn their attention inward. Ultimately the connection we are all longing for is within us, but the longing is an essential part of the path. It is the truest motivation to practice, to study, to question, and to continue on the path.
It is part of the path to forget, to remember our connection, and then to forget again. We grow in our authenticity, and our honesty when we embody that longing and loneliness in our times of forgetting, rather than lying to ourselves and others, claiming we are always in remembrance and forever connected.
As Hafiz says,
“Don't surrender your loneliness so quickly.
Let it cut you more deep.
Let it ferment and season you as few
humans and even divine ingredients can.
Something missing in my heart tonight
has made my eyes so soft,
my voice so tender,
my need for God
There is medicine in the longing and loneliness. It leads us to remember our smallness, our humility, and the beauty of life and the divine. It reveals to us our lack of control over life’s unfolding. Some of the greatest love songs and poems in the world are full of this beautiful pain of longing and loneliness. The medicine is in feeling it. And in identifying the true object of the longing, (not a new car or a new lover) the divine.
Continuing to humbly return to our hearts is the way to work with longing. This is how we can develop an authentic and honest relationship with ourselves, by honestly admitting to ourselves when we feel connected to the divine and when we do not. As we evolve into a deeper and more authentic relationship with ourselves, the other relationships in our life echo the deepening and become more authentic. It is so much easier to share honestly with others once we are honest with ourselves and can sit quietly with this feeling of loneliness. It is a rare and wonderful gift, to share honestly with another human being, giving voice to this longing.
Interested in learning practices on using loneliness for spiritual awakening? Want to connect with a supportive spiritual community? Then it's probably time for you to join us in our upcoming retreat!