On Being Alone
Guru Shree Chitrabhanu
On Being Alone
Freedom from Dependency
Most people go through their lives not knowing what they want, yet sure that they did not get it. Because of that, they are sour and bitter. They go on grumbling even though they really do not know what they want. It appears a bit silly, but think of it. When you fall into a depressed frame of mind and someone asks you, “Why are you unhappy?” do you find the right cause of your unhappiness? Or do you start blaming something in general?
Let us probe this further. What is the real cause of unhappiness? Are outside things really deluding or tempting in themselves? Do they have the innate capacity to harass us or allure us? Or is it our addiction to them which makes us see them in that way?
It is our addiction which makes us blame outside things which, if we look closely, are themselves only things. We want to go beyond the blaming, beyond the addiction, beyond all these limiting conditions. That is our quest. We will not be satisfied with superficial answers or with a temporary boost. Genuine seekers do not spend their time in search of a mere “high.” They know that like soda water when it is shaken, a temporary “high” will fall back down to the same state.
That is why we want to see both–the real and the unreal, our essence and our addictions. The genuine teachers and teachings take us into the depth of reality and help us understand the nature of addiction. They encourage us to ask ourselves, “What is addiction? How have we built addictions around us? In what ways have we identified with them? Without them, does our life seem empty, miserable, and helpless?”
In order to see clearly, we meditate on the fourth facet, ekatva. Ekatva means One, and you have so many in your mind. Because of bahutva, or multiplicity, you don’t see that One. Around that One everything is circling.
We can think of it in this way: We have a circumference and a center. The center is one, but on the circumference there are many. The circumference is so big and obvious that we don’t have the insight to see the subtle center. That is why we are always moving on the circumference, outside of ourselves.
That is why we look for some scapegoat to blame. We like to pin our unhappiness on some-body, saying, “If you were not in my life, my life would be heaven.” Or we say it the other way around. “If you were in my life, my life would be heaven.”
The circumference plays such an elusive role that one loses sight of the center. One must see that the whole circumference is made for the center, that if there were no center, a circumference could not exist.
See yourself for a while, looking from the center to the circumference. Until now your mind has been engaged twenty- four hours a day with bahutva, the circumference. Always somebody or something has been there engaging your mind– money, power, possessions, a friend, or a foe. That is why you are never completely with yourself. Even when you do sit down to be alone with yourself, even in that moment, something is there to distract you.
You act as though there were nothing in the center, as though everything were on the outside.
The tangible world does exist. It is the material half of our existence. In it we have trust. The problem arises when, instead of accepting this material world for what it is, we become obsessed by it. Then we neglect the invisible world. If something is not visible or tangible, then we don’t have trust in it.
But we must open our minds and see that the visible depends upon the invisible. If there were no invisible, the visible would have no meaning. If there were no intangible, the tangible would have no feeling. The tangible cannot be felt without the intangible. The tangible is dear to us precisely because there is the intangible at the center of it.
Take, for example, a woman who wins first prize in a beauty contest. In all nations she becomes recognized as a universal beauty. Seeing her beauty, many people will want to marry her. They do not think of the soul inside this beautiful body. But one day her soul will leave its house. Her body will lie lifeless, and then even those who do not believe in soul will not be willing to marry her. Everything is still there–the eyes, ears, limbs, and shapes.
Why is it that now this tangible, visible body no longer has any attraction? Something surely has gone from it! The breath has gone. But who was operating the breath? Who was inhaling and exhaling? Who was in the center of that breath? Do you know? I tell you that is what you have to come to know. When you meditate on this, you will discover the intangible which makes this tangible body living, pleasant, acceptable, and social.
When you see something in you beyond the physical aspect, your life will become very meaningful. You will begin to appreciate your human beingness. You will change your attitude toward other people. You will not see only the physical body.
You will stop relating to people as objects. Your relationship will be that of the subject. Now you see someone only as an object and you do not feel oneness with the individual. When you see someone as the subject, you see the “I,” the one who is.
When you experience “I am,” you are living in your consciousness. There is no duality. As soon as you say “I want,” desire begins. From desire comes the object. Now you are separating from the world. Out of the two, “I” and “want,” a third thing comes, “the world”; “I want the world.” This trinity is born from duality. The world out there is born every time you separate from the subject, your center, “I.” As soon as you are out of your consciousness, duality is there, the world is there.
Ekatva means to realize ultimately “I am,” not “I want.” It means to break the concept of duality and be oneself. When you bring the whole world into “being,” life merges into one flow. Then there is no manifestation of otherness, only oneness.
If you keep that essence in awareness, then seeing what you see does not create duality. You are not seeing someone or something through the eyes of wanting or judging. Rather, you see as if you were seeing in a mirror. The person whom you used to see as an object is now the subject, the same as you. You see the reflection equal to you, no less, no more. The reflection is not different from what you are.
Once there was an artist. He decided to put pieces of mirror all around his room, on the ceiling and on the walls, so that they would reflect the one light which was in his room. And it was his joy to sit and watch the reflected lights. By chance his dog entered the room. Not being able to understand that the dogs he saw in the mirrors were his own reflections, he started barking at what he viewed as rivals. He saw so many other dogs, and he could not stop barking. Eventually he became exhausted and collapsed. The poor dog saw the many reflections only as rivals biting and jumping at him. In this way, he created duality.
See the world as a reflection of your own desires. Remove your desires and only see. Do not bark. When you see yourself as the seer, the world merges in your awareness.
This is one insight. It is difficult to explain, but when you feel it, it makes you equal to all. Then it does not make any difference to you if you are with a rich man or a poor man, a prince or a pauper. It does not create any fluctuation in your mind. Why not? Because you now have a new perception. What you see in you is in him. His “I” and your “I” are the same in quality, pure Atma.
If you see in terms of “less” and “more,” then you will see a common man as less and a friend with a high post as more. When you see another as object instead of subject, he who has more things is seen as a rich object and he who has fewer things is seen as a poor object. This kind of relationship, which we notice so often, is an objective relationship. And that kind of relationship is maintained only so long as certain things are there. When those things are no longer there, the relationship is over. Why? Because the dependency in the relationship is on outside things.
This reflection brings a new way of thinking. Starting with yourself, say, “Ekatva, I am One. I came as One into the world. Traveling alone and floating from the universe, I entered some sweet mother’s womb and there I rested to grow.
In this way you go beyond and see how you came alone. At that time nobody knew you. You were a stranger. You did not have any address, acquaintance, or letter of recommendation. You had nothing.
All of us came alone in a small vehicle, in a microscopic form–a sperm and egg. At that time we had no equipment. Now we have so much equipment with which to see, express, speak, and move. But at the outset of this life, we entered in a small body, our vehicle. That’s all!
At that time who was there? For whom were you crying? Now you are crying for so many things, but then you were crying for one–to take a deep breath! That was your first need. You cried, you breathed, and all the body processes started working. The first thing you could feel was the heart beating.
Go on working with the thought, “I came as One,” and you will know how to stand on your own feet. Tears handicap your vision when you cry, “I can’t live without you! I can’t live without this or that!” It is all mental addiction . You have lived without them ! You came alone! At that time you wanted only breath and some-thing to sustain the body. So you can live without them now !
The idea behind this meditation is to make an individual strong to stand on his or her own. In this way, the person will not lean on anyone or become a burden to someone. The point is not to separate you from the world, but to make you a healthy person. When you build your inner muscles, your mind becomes sound and vigorous. You realize you can be alone.
From the moment you came into the world, you started unfolding that invisible through the visible.
And the unfolding brings out so many qualities. Take the seed of any plant. It is so insignificant-looking. When it unfolds, sprouts up, and brings out a beautiful flower, then we realize that beauty was hidden in that tiny yellow, white, or black seed. At the beginning, we do not pay much attention to the seed, but when the seed uncovers its whole beauty, we notice it. In the same way, this invisible soul has had from beginningless time all this beauty. Now it is unfolding through human life.
According to the seed, the form is created. The quality of the seed determines the result, its blossoming. That is why, if we have the seed of a rose, then a rose flower comes. If we plant the seed of a mango, the seed will open its heart and turn into a delicious mango. When an apple seed grows, apples come. But you don’t see the apples and mangoes when you first look at those small black seeds. Yet in your awareness, you can know that they hold unique qualities.
So meditate on that tiny beginning of yours. Go back and see, “I came alone, there was joy, no fear, no addiction.
You will be surprised to know that the more addictions you have, the sooner old age comes. The fewer addictions, the more youthful you remain. People wither because of their tensions and worries.
Watch yourself when you are on a vacation. You feel fresh. Why? You don’t have any demands, any pulls. Demands and addictions corrode you. You think you are getting something by continuing with them, but really you are decaying inside.
That is why wise people don’t have addictions to so many things. Once there was a wise man who lived in a big house. But his house was empty. One evening, some thieves came. “What to do?” the wise man thought.
Thieves don’t have any sense, and when they find out that I don’t have anything for them to take, they will be angry. They may try to harm me.”
So he opened his only cupboard, which was empty, and hid himself inside. The thieves came and looked about. They found nothing. When they noticed the cup-board, they opened it. They saw the old man standing there.
“Why are you hiding yourself from us?” they asked.
“What to answer?” he thought. Then he said, “I am hiding from you because of shame.”
“What is your shame?” they asked him.
“Sirs,” he answered, “there is nothing in this house to present to you. I am ashamed to have nothing to offer to you guests. So I thought I must hide.”
The thieves laughed. “Yes,” they said, “you are a wise man because you don’t have anything.”
“Yes,” answered the wise man, “if you have some-thing, you have worry. If you don’t have anything, what worry can you have?”
By collecting things, you are collecting worries. You even worry whether or not people notice what you have. If guests come and do not appreciate your painting, you think they don’t have any sense of appreciation. If thieves come and take it away, you also fret.
The initiate is given this reflection so that he will not become unhappy upon seeing so many worldly things. As a monk, he goes from house to house for his alms. At that time, he should not become upset that he has nothing in his monastery except four walls and an empty room. So he meditates on that oneness.
“I came into the world with nothing, only my good vibrations. Because of them, I have been unfolding my human life. Identifying with so many material things, I am getting tired, exhausted, withered. I don’t want to carry this burden on my head any more.
At the same time, the initiate meditates on the exit he or she is going to make from this world. “I came alone and I will go alone.”
It is the truth. It may make you feel sad. Always when some created illusion drops away, there is sadness unless you see the truth behind it. Then you become happy. The heart may cry for what it has lost, but the soul laughs for what it has gained!
So we enter and exit alone. Then why do we live with the world? What is this whole human family? Why do we have friends? If we come and go alone, why do we need this whole thing?
There is a meaning. We are here to communicate, to build a bridge with the world, but not to bind ourselves to the world. This is the difference. A bridge allows us to go from one end to another. Bondage ties us to one end and does not allow us to go anywhere. Knowing this, we use the process of bridging rather than that of binding.
However, our mental habit is inclined toward addiction and binding. We always want to bind things to ourselves. Once George Bernard Shaw was sitting by a window overlooking his garden. His cousin went into the garden, plucked many flowers, and put them in a vase. Shaw asked him, “Why did you do this?”
His cousin answered, “To decorate our drawing room.”
So Shaw asked, “If somebody came and cut off your head, how would you feel? Why did you not go into the garden and enjoy the blossoming plants? I sit and watch from here. To decorate the house, you had to take them out from their own place. Why do you not go to them instead?”
It is an example of the psychology of the mind. When you have attachment, you don’t want to see life grow in its own place. You want to keep it, put it in a packet, affix your label to it, and call it your own. You want to say, “It belongs to me.” If you do this, what happens? The life soon withers.
When this insight opens and blossoms, you become very comfortable with the world. You are friends with all. You say, “Let us be as bridges and communicate with one another.”
You no longer care to be a cause for bondage to anybody. You want to be free, not tied down. If you identify with a person in a binding way, taking his or her problem on your head, then you are not giving space. You will become irritated when the person does not do as you desire. You will complain, “He is not doing as I wish. I have told him twenty times and still he does not listen.” You become unhappy, angry. Why? Because you identify.
If you are building a bridge with your friend, you say what you feel, and if your friend does not agree, at least you can say, “We agree that we don’t agree.” There also you have agreement. There is no reason to be angry. It’s a very subtle feeling–to untie yourself from all the ties.
We have not come into the world to fight, to quarrel, to be sad, and in the evening to go to bed miserable. We are not here in the world for that. There are many who are engaged in such vicious, circular behavior. Let them do it. Those whose minds are obsessed with worldly things–power, position, money–cannot do otherwise! And you can notice what happens to them when their power and worldly attachments go; their life sinks very low. You cannot imagine their bitterness, their sorrow. But it is the nature of those things to go. People become sad because they allow their whole mind and energy to be consumed by those things which ultimately have to go.
But you, who want to grow and help others grow, know that this life is to build communication. You tell yourself, “Let me commune with as many people as possible.” And your relationships are genuine because you are not creating duality.
A person may be short or tall, thin or fat, rich or poor, of one race or another, educated or not; you relate to the subject who is in the center of that person. You don’t consider anyone as higher or lower. You do not limit yourself by that kind of fluctuation. So any fluctuation which is causing anxiety goes away and from that moment you have a very fine connection with the world. It becomes easy to move and communicate with all, because you are with people on a level of sharing.
When one meditates on aloneness, there is the possibility of fear creeping in. “I am alone? Is there nobody in the whole world whom I can call mine?” you might think. That thought may frighten you and make you feel gloomy.
When this occurs, you must see yourself in a new way. See yourself as an individual, as a life force. In your meditation see the dynamic, potent reality of your Self. As you focus on this energy, you will realize that you are eternal, the creator of your future. In the ancient teachings, we call it the simhavruti, the quality of lionhood .
The lion in the forest does not move in big herds. In a zoo you may see several lions together, but not in a wild forest. There each lion has his own abode, his own cave, his own kingdom. A lion wants to be alone. At the same time, he does not have any fear in his heart. He knows he is the king. That lionhood must emerge in meditation. That fearlessness must be experienced.
Once a lioness was killed and her small cub went wandering in the wilderness. A shepherd found him and took him home. He reared the cub with his own goats and sheep. The cub grew up with them, growing bigger and stronger each day. One day all the sheep and goats, along with this lion cub, were grazing when a big lion came to the top of the mountain above their meadow and roared with all his might. Hearing the roar, all the sheep, goats, and the little cub started running away. The lion who roared saw them all run and thought, “Yes, they all must run, but why is that lion cub running away also?”
He ran after the cub and grabbed him. The cub became frightened and began bleating. So the lion drew him near the water and said, “Why do you bleat? You are a lion! Look at your reflection in the water and roar.” But the little lion did not understand or believe his words. He wandered off to graze.
“What are you doing, nibbling blades of grass?” asked the great lion. “This is not your food.” By this time the lion cub was trembling.
“Why are you trembling?” he asked the baby cub. “I am like you. You are like me. You have forgotten your nature.”
This mind is so weak that once it has accepted a certain form, it is difficult to convince it of another approach. It remains in the same frame, the same compartment. Our mind limits itself in this way. The lion cub was not ready to leave his limited way of seeing. But the big lion would not rest until he had convinced him.
“No, you must understand,” he told him. “You are like me.’
He made him look into the water of the pond. He stood beside him and said, “See your reflection. See my reflection. See your yellow color, your mane, your tail. See how curly it is. See your sharp teeth just like mine. See your lion face.” And the cub started seeing and thinking.
“Yes, I have a big lion face. It is true. I’m not covered with fleece and I don’t have horns on my head. Yes, but this animal roars and I say ‘Baa, baa.’ It’s a big difference!”
“Well, young lion, bring out your voice! Your heart is very large. I can hear its throbs, so bring your roaring voice out!”
The cub tried a little bit. He opened his throat, but because of habit, his voice box was contracted and he could not roar. Slowly he made an effort and at last the real roar came out.
“Now,” the great lion told him, “walk alone. Don’t move in the herd. You do not belong there. They are all sheep and goats. You are a lion. How can you live with sheep and goats? Now go there and make a roar!”
So the cub went back and roared so fiercely that they all ran away, sheep, goats, shepherd, and all. He realized his nature. He was transformed. “I am able to stand alone. At the same time, I can live without feelings of helplessness and fear.”
So ekatva is a transforming reflection. It gives a new ideal, a new perception to your mind. Slowly this becomes a symbol and you start seeing yourself in another dimension.
“I come alone and I go alone, but I am not alone.
Knowing that oneness in me, I see it in each individual. So all are like me and I am like all.”
You have respect for all, as you have respect for yourself. You are neither superior nor inferior. Both scales have gone. You are one with all. When you treat everyone as equal, each person feels comfortable with you. If you treat someone as inferior, he may feel resentful or unsure of himself. If you treat someone as superior, he may feel uncomfortable also. He won’t know how to be with you. He is no greater than you, but by your making him great, he may try to hide his smallness and live up to your false image of him.
We are on an eternal journey. From here, do we have an itinerary? Most cannot say, but we do know that all must go somewhere. That’s the law of the universe.
Where do we go? We go to those places, to those people, to those conditions which we are preparing here and now with our love, our connection, our bridge building between each other. What we are creating now will be waiting to greet us then. It may sound a little paradoxical. But when you go deeper and deeper through meditation into your timeless infinite being, you touch your life’s quest. That becomes your invisible path. That becomes your dream come true. That becomes your eternal journey into evolution.
Each person is an individual traveler. At the same time, he is in company. We have both, individuality and company. In a subtle sense it is oneness; in a general sense it is allness. In one way, it is the invisible world; in another way, it is this visible world. The two are deeply interconnected, working together on a personal level as well as on a universal plane to bring a soul to its ultimate fruition.
From now on, you can start working with the world on a universal level. Notice if you are seeing a person as an object or as a subject. It is a daily practice. Start from today. Ask yourself, “How do I see that person?” First create a mental picture. Do you see him or her exactly equal to you? When you do, then tell yourself, “What I don’t like, that person may not like, so I must not do that. And what I want, that person may want. So let me share and give space, live and let live.”
When you experience oneness, you have won your goal in life. When you don’t see that oneness, then you are constantly dependent, always crying on somebody’s shoulder. What happens when you don’t find a shoulder to cry on? You are miserable. But if you build inner strength and understanding, then, even in old age, you will have friends around you. They will feel neither burdened nor bound by you; they will enjoy communication with you, subject to subject.
This unique meditation helps us have a glimpse of the truth. It allows us to see that the flame in our being is the same flame everywhere. The outer shapes may be different–the chimneys, the bulbs, the shades–but inside, the living light is the same. You become aware of everyone as flame, including yourself. Only on this level is a bridge of communication built. There is no other way to build such a bridge with mankind. So long as you see forms, there is no bridge.
In realizing that everyone has this quality of light, you discover that it is inborn, not given or applied. It is man’s intrinsic nature, his birthright as a human being. That is why this teaching has great relevance to our lives. It removes the old habit of the mind which likes to create duality and it brings our lionhood to the surface. When the mind starts to separate, saying, “Somebody else has this quality of lion, not I,” remember ekatva to bring you back to yourself. Experience the oneness. See the lion quality in yourself as well as in others.
Now you are ready to know both, your innate potentiality and your present condition, your center and your circumference. By meditating on the multiple and the solitary, you can remove the manyness, peel away the layers of mind, and bring out that exultant feeling of all-oneness.
Seed-Thoughts For Meditation
Ekatva, I am One. I came alone into the world. I will depart alone. I know how to stand alone, without addiction or prop apart from the herd, fearless and strong in my Self
I have only to go into the depth of aloneness to know the meaning of all-oneness.
Everyone has come into the world to know this oneness, to build a bridge of communication with one another.
Let me be aware of everyone as flame, as living light, including myself. Let me realize the magnificence and potency of soul and become universal.