Loneliness, one of mankind’s greatest problems, seems even more prevalent in the modern world than it used to be. In the midst of crowds, in the middle of a busy work life, in a teeming city, people still often feel alone, and then withdraw further to feel even more isolated in their separate living spaces.
Unfortunately, most modern cultures view humanity in the worst possible light, spreading the word that our fundamental reality is one of independent, separated beings struggling to survive and prevail, competing with one another for the fulfillment of our needs, defending ourselves and our self-images, fighting for our rights and our dreams. What perspective could be lonelier than that?
Yet all of nature and science and spirituality and religion cry out together in unison that our lonely sense of ourselves as separated, independent beings is complete nonsense, an illusion.
Look at nature. Nothing is independent in nature. Not one thing. Everything is dependent upon everything else for life, every single second. We couldn’t live a minute without the earth’s air and the sun's energy, nor a week without food and water. We count on the web of life for everything. Even in modern society, we rely on those who came before us, those who are living now–near or far–and those who come after us, for everything of value in our lives. And they all rely on us in return.
Every year at springtime, without fail, an apparently dying nature renews itself in a bubbling, burgeoning blossoming of rebirth.
So in what way are any of us doomed and separate beings, except in our culturally-programmed imaginations?
The healthiest, happiest perspective we can have (and also the most scientifically and socially sane one) is to see our fundamental reality, our identity, not as separate beings who struggle to survive and then die, but rather as unique and necessary aspects of a unified whole which never ends and never dies.
It’s a difficult “self” to grasp at first, and then to accept, and finally to live in accordance with. But it’s the only identity that recognizes, from somewhere deep within, the truth that “we are the world; we are the children.”
We can embrace this perspective by letting go of our resistance to ourselves, to one another and to the-world-as-it-is. We can’t feel the truth of our oneness when we are busy judging and picking on ourselves, or others. We cannot know our undivided self when we are holding it at arm’s length.
We can start loving and appreciating others and the world when we stop resisting ourselves. When we learn to be easier on ourselves, we’ll learn to see others, this earth and the universe without all the defensive negative coloration we paint over it, but instead, just as we all really are, just as the world really is, wonderful and completely amazing, just exactly as it was made and meant to be by its creator.
Right now, however, we see ourselves and all-that-is in the worst possible light.
But the “evil” world we see “out there” isn’t really out there at all. What we’re seeing out there is rather, what’s “in here.” The worlds we see are just our unhappy projections, our reflections of what we think we are, at our worst.
What if I could genuinely believe that I am fundamentally and forever safe, loving and lovable, powerful, and good, despite the mistakes I've made and will make? I would find it much easier to see others, both strangers and those I know, the same way.
Unfortunately, most of us have been brought up to see ourselves as messed-up—some might call us “sinners”—struggling, hopeless, frustrated, at least a little crazy, and a lot mean and angry.
And to be sure, we are still learning, still making a lot of mistakes, still feeling confused. But that doesn’t change the eternal and essential truth about ourselves—that on the most permanent, basic—and real—level, on the spiritual level, we are exactly as we were created to be, forever safe, lovable and loving, powerful and good.
The only thing that ever stops us from being happy on this earth, in peaceful oneness with one another and all of nature, is our resistance to accepting ourselves and others, and the world, just exactly as it is, and as we are. God is quite up to handling everything else in his own mysterious ways.
Now why is that so hard?
It’s hard because we have carefully built up, brick-by-brick, a hard-and-fast idea of who we are as human beings that is quite different from God's universally lovable and beloved creation
To be sure, we've left within the nasty and sweeping identity we've hung upon humanity, one teensy comforting little clause, a convenient “out” just for ourselves (and maybe a few others we like,) one we can take out and look at whenever we need some reassurance: this caveat is that we are the lucky exceptions to the rule. It's all the rest of the people on earth who are the messed-up problem. Then we hurry to make every possible effort to shore up our confidence in our own specialness by defensively walling out most of the world, and walling ourselves “safely” in within God’s in-crowd.
Unfortunately, such an isolationist identity, however dressed-up and fancy, is nothing more than a momentarily comforting fairy tale, all about how much better we are than everyone else, how much more deserving, how much smarter, how much less guilty, how fundamentally…different.
The bad thing is, though, we can see right through it. We can’t really buy into this temporarily reassuring illusion, not really. We just don’t believe in it. Oh, we want to believe it, all right, because we’d feel a lot safer if we thought that we really were basically different from everyone else. But in our deepest hearts, we know the truth, which is that we, uh, may, well, actually be, er, like, uh, human. Sort of, well, like, you know (gulp) all the rest.
Which scares the bejesus out of us.
It is such a relief to just let go of everything we’ve stored up against ourselves and everyone else, and live freely in the present moment, as both a giver and receiver in the great cycle of dependencies and exchanges which is our most fundamental nature, our truest reality. It is such a relief to stop worrying about distinctions and differences, and about human mistakes. So what, if some of us have been lucky enough to have learned more than others, if some are currently “ahead,” and others “behind,” in understanding? We’ll all eventually be given all the time and help we need to learn whatever it is we need to learn…. How else would a just and loving God operate?
When we use the present moment simply to give all we can and to take what we’re given, we can all just relax….
Happy lives are not about discriminating and selecting among those aspects of society we might want to associate with. We can start seeing ourselves and all others differently, learn to love ourselves and all others, give to all, enjoy all, embrace all. And as we learn to accept and appreciate ourselves and all others, there is no doubt we’ll be loved in return.
How lonely is that?