Friday, July 07, 2006

MEDITATION: "Never Alone, Never Lonely"

I live alone, and because of it, some of my friends and family occasionally express concern for me. I think they find it hard to imagine that a 64-year-old man living by himself wouldn’t find loneliness to be a fairly constant companion. Because I have no other person with me on a regular basis, my friends and family seem to feel that a sense of isolation must be a fairly steady feeling for me. They think that, since I’m physically alone much of the time (my social life is fairly minimal), I must, as a natural consequence, be lonely. The truth, however, is that I almost never feel lonely, and the reason is that I almost never feel alone. When my loved ones think of me as being alone, they are thinking of me as a separate material entity in a universe composed of countless separate material entities -- but I think of myself and the universe in a very different way. I see reality as a single, unified, and harmonious spiritual cosmos – a divine creation that has no separation, and therefore no aloneness. I am no more separate from the person down the street than a breeze at one end of our local park is separate from a breeze at the opposite end. All breezes are part of the infinite system of winds in the universe, and, to me, all people are part of the single, endless system of spiritual creations in the universe. Perhaps I can explain it this way: When I am physically with another person, say at a restaurant having dinner, exactly where does that person exist for me? I see her, and I hear her, and I can even give her a hug, but doesn’t this all take place, actually, in my consciousness? Don’t my eyes transfer the image of her to my brain, where it then registers with my consciousness? And don’t my ears, in the same way, convey the sounds of her voice to my brain, where, again, they are registered in my awareness? (Isn’t this what we all learned in high school science?) Even though she is sitting across a small table from me, don’t I actually experience her in a completely mental way? In other words – and this is quite wonderful to realize -- isn’t she actually as close to me, and as much a part of me, as my own thoughts? The answer, for me, is yes -- and it follows from this that I don’t have to be physically with another person in order to be actually with them. If I’m sitting in my apartment and thinking about my brother who is 2,000 miles away, he exists for me then just as powerfully as he does when I am standing three feet away from him. In either case, he is part of my thinking, and therefore part of me. In either case – and this is the important point – there is no separation. There’s not a physical “me” here and a physical “him” there. There’s just the single, vast, harmonious, spiritual (or mental) universe, of which he and I are essential parts. I want to ask my family and friends: How can I be ever be alone, much less lonely, in such a universe as this?

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