In 2006 my newsletter read: Sorry the newsletter is late.
Tim’s mother had told her friend to let us know that she was dying and that we should come quickly. Tim and I therefore went to Brisbane to be with her. We arrived expecting to hold her hand as she took her last breath. When we arrived she was very weak and said: ‘I just want to go, I wish I could just die.’ After half an hour of us being there, Tim suggested crumbed fish for dinner, and she promptly answered, ‘Oh, yes, that would be nice!’
This to me shows the power of seeing someone you love, getting attention and social interaction. Literally the difference here is between wanting to live and wanting to die.
These things are needed during this time, and sometimes it is just a matter of a call, a smile, a letter.
But is there a way that we can also give ourselves this “witnessing ourselves in love?”
For many years I have done a process based in the Zen practice of Big Mind. I call it Mindful Voice Integration. We are a small group that meet about once a month to play with a certain ‘voice’, a certain aspect within ourselves. All voices exist in an immature, disowned, ‘hand shaking’ version, and a mature version. From each of these dimensions the voice changes.
This week’s newsletter is playing with the voice of Loneliness. You might find it odd – I know I did when I first came to the practice – but over time it lives up to Ken Wilber’s description of it as ‘the most astonishing development in Buddhist psychology for the past 200 years’. Enjoy!
Come with me….into a dialogue with Loneliness
Me: Hello Loneliness. I am here to find out about you, what you offer, what you are, and how you work. Are you ok with that?
Yes sure, I can tell you I am big right now, partly due to Covid-19, partly due to you humans having lived in such disconnect with yourselves.
Me: And what about not connecting with others?
It all starts with connection with self. Inner connection is witnessing the inner life without barriers. When you travel with an open and curious heart, then there is no loneliness.
I (Loneliness) am a sense of being alone with my inner world. This is why a human can feel lonely while socialising and not lonely when physically alone. When you witness your own experience in kindness, everything is good company – the birds, the trees – and just a wave from another can fill you up.
Me: I know you also exist in an immature form, can I hear from that part?
Yes sure, when I am there I point to no friends, no one listens, everyone else is popular, everyone else has lots of friends. I can easily then hand over to my colleague ‘the inner critic’ who will then bring in: ‘remember you are hopeless, stupid, uncaring, boring, and why would anyone want to spend time with you?’
Me: You also culturally have a bad name?
Yes, I am linked to being a loser. Cool or successful people are surrounded by other people.
Me: So because you are unpopular, you at times get shoved in the basement. The self pretends you don’t exist, is that right?
Oh yes. Shame about me makes the host push me underground.
Me: What happens then?
Well, I am now part of the inner life that isn’t shared! That which makes the host feel lonely! Odd isn’t it? Remember, I am a sense of being alone with my inner world. When I am in the basement the host will pretend to enjoy herself at boring events; she will say ‘yes’ to too many things to avoid being alone. She will distract herself, keep busy, live a life crowded with events to avoid getting near me, to avoid sensing me.
In the meantime, I am sitting in the basement with insights.
Yes, that humans exist here on earth in a perceived separate form and that is scary for you. That makes humans feel vulnerable, and they often mask that by keeping busy, being distracted, trying to create meaning – running away from the vulnerability.
Me: Tell me, if you were owned and integrated in the self, what could you offer?
I would offer tenderness in response to human pain and the fear of ‘not good enough’, and the fear of being excluded. I would offer comfort in being open and sharing the innermost experiences. Vulnerability would no longer be part of the vocabulary, just transparency and openness. In that, strong connections would arise, as it would awaken humans to the sameness, to the oneness in the living experience.
Me: And of course you also exist in a mature form?
Yes, as mature loneliness. Allow yourself to just pause and breathe while you sense me, taste me. Be curious about how I am experienced within the body, I, the voice of mature loneliness.
I am the one who leads you to see that the whole loneliness thing is just an idea, a construct that arises out of the delusion that we are separate, that we are a little ‘me’. I, mature loneliness, penetrate these delusions and have the self merge with consciousness, that which is the constant, the oneness. I am tenderness and self-compassion for the human condition of feeling separate, different and not good enough.
In this way I offer companionship, for the self a companionship of kindness, understanding and safety.
When I am owned, integrated and empowered, the host walks like a shining beacon of transparency, human experience in and with spirit/consciousness, with a knowing of pain of separation but piercing the delusion of this perceived reality.
I know and remind ‘Dear little human, you are one with everything’.