“Don’t go outside your house to see the flowers.
My friend, don’t bother with that excursion.
Inside your body there are flowers.
One flower has a thousand petals.
That will do for a place to sit.
Sitting there you will have a glimpse of beauty
inside the body and out of it,
before gardens and after gardens.”
The following notes are offered to support your understanding of the satsang Sahajananda presented on April 6, 2020 on the theme of Solitude, Aloneness, Confusion, Time, Conscious Shocks, and Trust. Note that this is not a transcript and should not be seen as an alternative to viewing the satsang itself (available here). If you don’t watch the satsang, you will likely miss the context for the ideas presented here and will therefore not grasp their subtleties. And, as importantly, you will miss Sahaja’s transmission. The word satsang comes from the Sanskrit words sat (“truth”) and sangha (“association”) and refers to “associating with truth,” or “being in the company of the wise.” By being in Sahaja’s company via watching the video of the satsang, you will be receiving the teachings directly from him and you may understand them on a deeper level.
- Solitude vs. Aloneness
- Confusion, Time, and Trust
- Spiritual Shift, Conscious Shocks, Non-Violent Revolution of the Inner World
The Difference between Solitude and Aloneness
- Solitude and Aloneness refer, respectively, to the serenity and the suffering of being by ourselves.
- Solitude and Aloneness are simply different states of consciousness—not about external conditions.
- “Sit in your cell. It will teach you everything.” –Simon the New Theologian
The cell, here, is seen as a room and as the space of the Heart. In Sanskrit, guha is the cave of the Heart.
- “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” –Blaise Pascal, Pensées
- Aloneness, or loneliness, is a painful condition. It feels like punishment or rejection.
- We feel cut off and estranged from other people. We can be surrounded by people and still experience intense loneliness. We don’t resonate with others and therefore feel lost.
- It brings confusion—struggle, alienation, fear, and even panic attacks.
- It is oftenassociated with an unwanted lack of connection and intimacy.
- We may feel as if we are humiliated, excluded, unwanted, unimportant, insignificant, and easily ignored or unnoticed.
- A sense of deficiency or inadequacy.
- Can lead to self-rejection and even to self-hatred and despair.
- It is a depleting experience—of not fitting in, inadaptability.
- We miss a center of reference—our social life, other people, were our main center of reference.
The social distancing measures currently being practiced can generate a sense of loneliness for many people.
- Solitude is an inspiring, freeing, creative state.
- It is where we are perfectly serene, at peace being by ourselves, and relish and enjoy our own company.
- Solitude can help us get in touch with, or engage with, the Heart, our True Self. It allows us to reflect on ourselves, others, our lives, and to do Self -Enquiry.
- It is often a catalyst for deeper self-awareness, greater creativity, fresh insights, and new growth.
- Solitude is, in general, something we choose. It is something that restores and builds us up.
- Solitude grounds us in who we are, and that enables us to radiate serenity and peace to others.
In times like these, such pauses may be forced upon us. But, instead of being overwhelmed by fears, worries, or boredom (which would be aloneness), this can be a beautiful time to investigate our lives and the motivations behind our actions and choices with greater detachment. Thus, we can objectify the nature of our personal impulses and go beyond them, getting closer to the real meaning of existence. We can also purify the mind to more clearly see what is false and what is authentic in our lives. Solitude purifies…
- Loneliness is negative and undesirable.
- Solitude, on the other hand, is a It is something that we choose for ourselves, or at least consciously accept.
- Solitude has an important role in most spiritual traditions, and is also often required by artists, philosophers, and other creative people.
- Loneliness is selfish and conditioning, Solitude is deconditioning.
- Loneliness is agitated, uncomfortable, and grasping, while solitude is a space from which stillness and clarity can emerge.
- This moment has imposed sobriety and awareness—monastic virtues. There is time for meditation and introspection… It is a special time—a time to honor the Present Moment…
- The word “religion” comes from the Latin “re-ligare,” to re-bind, re-connect. This is a chance to reconnect with what is important. The Heart, our friends and family, those in need, with Wholeness.
- If we used to be a problem for ourselves or for others, we continue to be a problem…
Don’t be part of the problem, but of the solution… Let’s speak about this solution…
AN EXAMPLE OF REAL SOLITUDE
- The Dark Night of the Soul: In spite of adversity, Faith is there…
- The Dark Night of the Spirit: Even deeper… No mind, no habits, no attachments.
The Living Flame of Love (4th stanza)
“How gently and lovingly
You wake in my heart,
Where in secret you dwell alone;
And in your sweet breathing,
Filled with good and glory,
How tenderly You swell my heart with love.”
–St. John of the Cross
First, you find yourself alone, then you find yourself…
Solitude is a time of no time. It is a way of being while not being:
- An intimate understanding of Nature. Entirely removed from the human perspective. Samyama in yoga. Freed from consensus reality, you are like a child—seeing again with wonderment…. Walden, Henry David Thoreau
- To be in solitude means not just to be with yourself, but to be Yourself. Just like this.
“Silence and solitude are the supreme luxuries of life.”
- In the lack of the mirrors and reflections coming from others, the mind becomes more rested. In solitude, you don’t need to prove anything to others, you become more natural, your gestures are freed from clumsiness and embarrassment—there is nobody there to judge them…. Otherwise, it is easy to get sucked into Maya. (Maya comes from the Sanskrit matri, to measure, to compare.) Duality… In solitude, you tame your blind thirst for duality. We need to define a future. Why? I feel no need for this—why anticipate? —how will things be two months from now? This brings a conscious shock (to be discussed more below).
- Solitude is not a negation, but an affirmation. So, learn to see the wholeness of solitude, of your Heart, of the beauty of all that is—NOW.
- Thus, the ego, the superficial layers of our existence, diminishes and glimpses of the deeper Truth of Pure Being start being acknowledged.
- This is the deeper, real Going into yourself deeper and deeper and… MEETING NO ONE.
- We tend to live in a world of objectifications—my body, you are handsome, you are smart—and in all this, we just take ourselves as this, as objects. In solitude, there is a chance for dis-objectification. We don’t need to express ourselves in a concrete form. For what? As Dogen said “What do attraction and hate matter when I am here alone…”
- Nobody can live in our place or die in our place, nor suffer in our place, and that’s what we call solitude: it is only another name for the solitude of existence. Ultimately.
“We are solitary. We can delude ourselves about this and act as if it were not true. That is all.”
–Rainer Maria Rilke
- We stay alone on the threshold of eternity. It may at first be frightening, as is light for a bat, but, when we put away attachments, this becomes the joy of freedom.
- Nobody really revealed their own nature through a social, bourgeois life. It can be through social interaction, but only when this comes from a forgetfulness of the ego, as in Karma Yoga.
- In solitude…as in beauty… there is a sense of coming Home, of feeling things in perfect order. When this happens, solitude becomes Oneness, an embrace of the sky, of your soul, of others’ hearts in this Now. Grace in the midst of it all. Then, solitude means intimacy.
- Solitude is not about staying in a bubble—you are fully aware…
In Hridaya Yoga, we prepared ourselves for solitude through silent retreats, solitary retreats, dark room retreats, etc.
“Ordinary men hate solitude.
But the Master makes use of it,
Embracing his aloneness, realizing
He is one with the whole universe.”
–Lao-Tzu, Tao Te Ching
Examples of Solitude
- Isaac Newton: In 1665, plague was raging in England and Isaac Newton, a new (and undistinguished) graduate of the University of Cambridge, was forced to retreat in the relative safety of his family’s country manor. In that 18-month period of retreat, Newton discovered the law of universal gravitation, proved that white light is composed of all colors, came up with his proof and extension of the binomial theorem, and invented infinitesimal calculus.
- Buddha: Attained enlightenment through meditation, deprived of social interaction.
- Anthony of the Desert: Spent twenty years in isolation. When he left it, he took his solitude with him and shared it with all that came to him. Desert Fathers and Mothers…
- Ramana Maharshi: Practiced 16 years of mauna in Virupaksha Cave
- Milarepa: 50 years of solitude
- Jesus: Fasting 40 days in the desert
Make this a quality time: Do Hridaya Meditation, practice Hatha Yoga, read spiritual books (like those by Ramana).
A Shift of Consciousness
- “Spiritual” People often spoke about our times as a period of a shift of consciousness—We were somehow looking for a miracle, the second coming of Jesus, in which we are taken to paradise, freedom, just because we live in these important times of change. This is a naïve perspective and is still ego-affirming— we are the chosen ones, now (in our generation) is the time. We are looking for a flock redemption. It seems to be the only chance for lazy, selfish people. Give yourself conscious shocks. Me, Here, Now…
- Portals—As astrological moments. Your Heart is the real Portal—Just Listen!
“Everyone Is God speaking.
Why not be polite and Listen to Him?”
- A real shift in consciousness requires a shift of paradigms. I am not just following naïve statements that everything will be well after all.
- It is an openness to the unknown, with a deeper trust… From this unfathomable faith in Being, in the Heart, everything flows, all that is shared, serenity, strength, courage…
- Some people are now blaming the Wuhan Institute of Virology, saying that the virus may have escaped accidentally from a biosafety level 4 laboratory there. Others refer to a deliberate biological attack. Others are blaming their governments for not taking the proper measures in time or not having enough medical devices and protective equipment, which are now essential—accusing governments of genocide. In a deeper way, this is irrelevant: Such an accident in a laboratory could happen later—just as a consequence of our technocratic world… Science without conscience, life without real consciousness. Of alienation… Give yourself conscious shocks… Awake from the dream…
- This is the first time in a long time that the planet has started rejoicing in itself. It is paradoxical: the animals feel freer, there are dolphins in the Venice canals, the ozone layer is regenerating, the ozone hole is shrinking… Seismologists affirm that there are even fewer earthquakes because there are fewer vibrations of the Eath’s surface…
- The planet is finally celebrating the diminishing of the kind of human activity that is poisoning it—physical, mental, and psychological.
- The human being should be a protector—the royal status of humankind in this world. Humanity acts like a cruel king—greedy, lying, betraying—the Earth, its mother. The king ignores his brothers and sisters—the animals, the forest. The king wants to conquer all of space… There is a need to be stopped. There is a Tao, a way in Nature—nirvana and samsara, the Middle Path.
- And we are all karmically responsible for accepting this status quo.
- Global warming has created serious problems. Last year in India, people fought for water; the monsoon came later and later, compromising agriculture, their food. Let’s imagine a possible scenario happening in the future: because of the lack of water and without proper action taken by the government, 150,000 people died (potentially more than will die this year from Covid-19). We may hear this and simply take it in as “news,” stories from people far away. But in the current situation, we are all affected, and this is such a good opportunity to feel deeply. It is so close—we have the chance to wake up.
- We made such a mess out of this planet. We are making such a mess. Give yourself a conscious shock—don’t stay just in the fear…
- People continue to go on in their old patterns, but this situation can be a trigger for Self-Remembrance…
- Obvious Absurdities: P.D. Ouspensky talked about how when he was a child, he read a book called Obvious Absurdities. It presented pictures of absurd things: a man carrying a house in his back, a cart with square wheels, etc. But apart from such images, in that book he saw some pictures that seemed perfectly normal. Even later in his life, he kept looking at those pictures which still seemed very normal. This is a metaphor for the world now, which seems to be normal, although it is not. We just need to see such obvious absurdities in the life we have. These days, we are being presented with a cart with square wheels for our times. Petrified routines. By observing such obvious absurdities happening everywhere, especially in such times, we can wake up.
Bumpers for Obvious Absurdities
- “Bumpers” are those rigid inner structures that attenuate any glimpse of awakening. They prevent us from seeing the absurdity of many things and situations like those that are now happening. They have a subduing and inhibiting effect on the consciousness…
- Bumpers lessen and moderate the impact of the Pure “I am.”
- They muffle the striking explosion of awareness…
- Subconscious bumpers prevent us from seeing what the contradictions in ourselves and the world are. They create a consensus reality, which is our life. They prevent us from living the sense of wonderment, the real miracle of existence, of the “I am.” It is like they have the power to put a spell on us.
- In the subconscious, there are remnants of years and years of living a wrong and stupid life, of indulgence in every kind of weakness, of sleep, of ignorance, of pretense, of lack of effort, of drifting, of striving to avoid unpleasant facts, of constant lying to oneself, of abuse and blaming of others, of fault-finding, of self-justifying, of emptiness, etc.
- As a result, the subconscious mind is muddy and works incorrectly, mostly mechanically. More than this, artificial routines have been created in the subconscious because of the hypnotic power of such bumpers.
- These artificial routines interfere a lot with our spiritual aspirations.
- Solution: conscious observation of bumpers—bourgeois life, materialism, and conventional attitudes.
- Shocks destroy bumpers.
- You can give yourself conscious shocks—contemplate the absurdity of so many situations in life and, thus, awaken.
How to Be Part of the Solution:
- Example of Gandhi: A non-violent revolution of the inner world, ahimsa
- Requirements of “self-sacrifice”
- First, not in a collective way, but in an inner way — “I refuse to be taken by ignorant gestures.” “I learn non-violence to myself,” (proper food, actions; not serving the ego, but Self-Remembrance…)
- Essentially: Reveal what is really important for you and eliminate everything else.
- Evaluate your day, redesign it, go around the room and eliminate everything unnecessary.
- Conscious buying, less garbage, solitude, eat slowly, consciously.
- Do not continue with the same patterns. This is an invitation for truthfulness with ourselves. Get out of old routines. The world might not change. But, the only way to change the world is to change ourselves….
- When everything around you is confused, in fear, close your eyes and ask: “Is it Existence that is confused or my mind?” I speak about existence, not just about the phenomenal world, because the phenomenal world pulsates indeed in accord with your feelings.
- Buddhist saying: “Everyone appears as buddhas in the eyes of the Buddha and everyone appears as pigs in the eyes of a pig.” Existence is experienced according to the state of consciousness. When the mind is compassionate and grateful, the world is, too. When the mind is filled with fear and negative thoughts, the world appears negative, too. Here, we should speak of a view with no filters, no optimistic or pessimistic lenses. When your mind rests, the world also rests…
- The Cosmos has never complained about its busy-ness or fear of dissolution…
- Unless you can look at life differently, you cannot remember Who you are.
- There is nothing critical, there is nothing urgent, except awareness.