In solitude the absence of the other is not felt. We are complete just by ourselves, writes Pratiksha Apurv in Speaking Tree. Published on July 6, 2019.
Aloneness, Oil on Canvas, 18×24″, 2005
A question that I am often asked is about our true Self. Does our workplace describe who we are? Do our friends and relationships define who we really are? Certainly not. As part of society, among friends or within the family, we live with a false sense of identity. It is not a natural identity, but one that is gradually imposed upon us since childhood. We are moulded into a particular mental structure by our family, society, education, and subsequently the religion that we are told to follow.
If we probe deeper into our lives, we will find that everything is borrowed including the very identity that we are carrying. Our true Self is buried deep beneath a false sense of belongingness. The real Self is there, but it needs to be rediscovered by moving away from the outside crowd and going to the land of aloneness. This ride may not be easy for two reasons — firstly, we are accustomed to living with the false personality, and secondly, we cannot be alone easily because our false self, nurtured by society, has become very comfortable living in a crowd.
The moment we are alone, it becomes difficult to even breathe for a minute.
The mind would either force us to switch on the TV or pick up our cell phone to engage ourselves. The silence, the moment of solitary aloneness, which has the potential to realise the true Self, turns out as a scary situation. We are scared to be alone at home because we are afraid of our true Self. The false identity appears to be soothing.
I have seen people making plans to visit solitary places during holidays. The usual refrain is that we want to escape the maddening crowd and recharge our batteries before re-joining work. In reality, we end up spending time with the same crowd at a hill station or at a beach. Instead of solitary space, we insert ourselves into the same crowd that we pretend to have left behind. An hour in total silence, perhaps, could have been more fruitful than three days at a crowded tourist destination.
One hour in silence could have destroyed all that is false, but we are scared of aloneness. The crowd ensures that the false self continues to remain relevant, but it is only solitude that creates the way to realise the true Self. Meditation facilitates silence and aloneness. It is a tool for being silent and alone, so that existence can provide us with a glimpse of our real Self. It’s a beautiful journey not only to realise our authentic Self that we were born with, but to also make us more sensitive, blissful, aware and creative.
Mandukya Upanishad says: “Ayam Atma Brahma” — “The Self is Brahma.” Unless the Self is realised, one cannot enter the core of existence. The false identity that we have been carrying around is a major hindrance in exploring our true being and godliness within.
Kabir, in his own subtle way, had tried to nudge people to remove this curtain of falsehood, saying: “Mai janu hari door hai, hari hai hriday maahi, aari tati kapat ki, tasai disat nahi” — “I always thought that the supreme Brahma resides far away, but when the curtain of false disappeared, I realised that God resides in the heart.”
I have depicted the splendour of aloneness in the painting where a fish is rejoicing in its solitude. Even plants and flowers are all by themselves, and are celebrating with peace. When a fish, plant or a flower can be happy alone, and can celebrate aloneness, why not we humans? Understand that this aloneness is not given to us by society, family or education; it is our very intrinsic nature. However, we have been escaping it.
Do not be afraid of being alone. Be courageous enough to jump into it and you may find the true Self. That is why our great sages have used meditation to bring back bliss, silence and peace.
Why are we always escaping aloneness if it is so beautiful? No one wants to be lonely in this world because there is a misconception that being alone means being lonely. Loneliness means one is in need of the other, while aloneness means a sense of completeness, totally contented when one is utterly rooted, centred in oneself. In aloneness one is whole, as part of existence and the other is not needed at all. Every institution in society has made arrangements so that one can forget loneliness, whereas I think one needs to become aware of aloneness, which is a beautiful experience; it is ultimate freedom from the crowd. It doesn’t mean one should not relate to anyone. Two persons who are utterly alone can relate beautifully. They would be in perfect communion unlike the usual relationship. And then one can be alone even in the crowd.
Osho says aloneness is the door to enter into our innermost core of being, and meditative techniques help us destroy what is false. He says, “Aloneness is your temple; it is where your God lives, and you cannot find this temple anywhere else. You can go on to the moon, to Mars. Once you have entered your innermost core of being, you cannot believe your own eyes: you were carrying so much joy, so many blessings, so much love… and you were escaping from your own treasures. Knowing these treasures and their inexhaustibility, you can move now into relationships, into creativity. […] Loneliness is a negative state where the other is missed and you start searching and seeking the other. The lonely person is a beggar; his heart is a begging bowl. The ‘alone’ person is an emperor.”
Of course, the very thought of entering into aloneness is frightening, but without encountering our authentic Self, the most blissful phenomenon of life cannot be experienced. In the Bhagwad Gita, Arjuna tells Krishna that his mind plays tricks on him. Krishna reassures Arjuna that realising his true Self might be difficult, but not impossible and once it is tasted, the flavour of godliness remains forever. Krishna says, “Sarva bhutastham atmanam, sarvabhutani catmani, iksate yogayuktatma sarvatra samadarsanah” — “A Self-realised human being can find me, feel my presence everywhere.”
The real Self is waiting to be rediscovered. And, remember that it is our natural state. We have simply not realised it, we have not celebrated it. Only when we taste the experience of being in solitude, in aloneness, in that very moment, we are one with existence; at that very moment, the song of awareness will also be sung.
Quotes by Osho from
The Golden Future, Ch 6, Q 1 – The Secret of Secrets, Vol 2, Ch 6, Q 1