The Question of Loneliness
What does tantra have to say about loneliness?
A participant in a recent workshop asked this question. We were talking about what needed healing in the world and how could tantra help.
Hmm.. tough question.
Rumi describes the official tantric philosophy in his quote:
“Do not feel lonely… The entire universe is within you.”
Sigh… Yes, we understand that. But when we are sitting alone, experiencing the pain of loneliness, this idea/saying/teaching is of little comfort.
So how do we get there? How do we go from where we are now to that wonderful experience that Rumi speaks of?
1) Feeling Connected in the Crowd:
I am writing this article in a café in downtown Toronto. I am surrounded by strangers – in the café, on the street, in cars, in surrounding buildings. How I experience this is up to me. I can notice how different and separate everyone is from me. I can realize that no one here knows me or cares about me. And I can feel lonely.
Or, I can take a deep breath and truly FEEL all of these people around me. I can sense their humanity. I can notice what we all have in common. I can feel our common connection.
Tantra is about experiencing the divine in this physical world. The same divine energy flows through all of these people. We are the same. And when I slow down and breath deeply, I can feel that.. And suddenly I’m not alone at all.
2) Find Your TRUE Community:
When we feel alone, it often coincides with not following (or knowing) our passions. Let’s say that deep down, you love sports, but you are surrounded by bankers. Or that you love theatre, but are surrounded by political activists. You always tend to feel like you’re on the outside looking in.. Unengaged, disconnected.
Tantra is about living life completely. Why would we live any other way? And yet, making a living, raising a family, and a hundred other things can often leave our lives empty of joyful, fun things that we are truly passionate about.
Even finding ONE passion can change everything. First, it makes you happy and excited about living. And second, you will meet others who share this passion. They will feel like kindred spirits.
I love to dance. And when I meet someone who also loves to dance, some part of me deep inside relaxes and smiles and thinks.. “Awesome… you’re like me.. we are part of the same tribe.”
This feeling of connection is part of our design.
3) Consider Living with Others:
Part of the loneliness problem is social, not spiritual. We are naturally social creatures. Yet in our modern society, we tend to isolate ourselves into nuclear families and if we aren’t in a family, we live alone.
For many, the idea of sharing space with others is the last thing that they want – mostly based on bad experiences in the past.
But what if your housemates were kindred spirits? What if you all had the same desire for a balance of privacy and passive community? What if this was possible? The simply proximity to others who care can make all the difference.
4) BUT IT’S CONNECTION TO A PARTNER I WANT!!
Yes. It is completely natural to desire an intimate partner. Intimacy is so beautiful. But of course loneliness with respect to a partner comes in two ways: Either you are alone and wish you had a partner OR you have a partner and you feel even more alone.
Loneliness Within a Relationship: Sometimes you can feel much more loneliness within a relationship than when you are actually single. There are lots of great relationships out there. But many relationships come out of an old paradigm where companionship, sharing a home, and caring for the children are all that matters. True intimacy, deep connection and open communication are not important at all. In these instances, we can feel incredibly lonely since we don’t feel deeply connected to the one person that we are supposed to and we are isolated from experiencing it with anyone else.. And after decades of this, the loneliness can be overwhelming.
If you find yourself in this place, then serious soul-searching is required. To ask yourself “What you truly desire in this life?”… Are you seeking expansiveness? Do you need to speak your truth? Does your relationship need to change? Or has the relationship run its course? These are hard questions that require listening inside to your inner truth as to what the path is so that you can find that connection and fulfillment either within your current relationship or in the next chapter.
Loneliness as a Single: But it is different if you find yourself in the other boat – single and feeling alone. In this case, the question is,“Do you feel complete and happy with or without a partner?” OR“Do you feel that you cannot be happy and content until you find a partner?”
Tantra is fundamentally a solitary journey. Many come to tantra because we desire incredible intimacy and the magical sexual experiences that it promises… But the truth is, if we are not whole ourselves, all the magic will elude us. We must become complete, balanced and happy within ourselves. Tantra is about experiencing the divine within us – WITHIN US!! If we cannot find happiness until we find another, then it isn’t happiness that we are seeking.. We are looking for another to fill a void or a role or a part of us that we don’t want to fill ourselves. But it won’t work. Even if we find someone, eventually we will feel discontent again.. Because the discontent is within us. We must fix this first.
And so, this brings us back to the first 3 points of this article… Feel connected with everyone around you and consider living with others to relieve the angst of feeling alone. Search within yourself to find the passions in your life that truly make you feel alive and that your life is exciting.. This will lead to finding kindred spirits.
These things alone will start to fill in the voids within us. Loneliness is a very contracted state. Tantra is about being expansive.
And as we expand into who we are, we will feel happier, we will gather kindred spirits, we will start to truly love our lives..
And who knows, we might even find love along the way.