Loneliness is Aloneness Misunderstood – Osho

You said the other day that we are born alone, we live alone and we die alone. Yet it seems as if from the day we are born, whatever we are doing, whoever we are, we seek to relate to others; in addition, we are usually attracted to being intimate with one person in particular. Would you please comment?

Dhyan Amiyo, the question that you have asked is the question of every human being. We are born alone, we live alone, and we die alone. Aloneness is our very nature, but we are not aware of it. Because we are not aware of it, we remain strangers to ourselves, and instead of seeing our aloneness as a tremendous beauty and bliss, silence and peace, at-easeness with existence, we misunderstand it as loneliness.

Loneliness is a misunderstood aloneness. Once you misunderstand your aloneness as loneliness, the whole context changes. Aloneness has a beauty and grandeur, a positivity; loneliness is poor, negative, dark, dismal.

Everybody is running away from loneliness. It is like a wound; it hurts. To escape from it, the only way is to be in a crowd, to become part of a society, to have friends, to create a family, to have husbands and wives, to have children. In this crowd, the basic effort is that you will be able to forget your loneliness.

But nobody has ever succeeded in forgetting it. That which is natural to you, you can try to ignore – but you cannot forget it; it will assert again and again. And the problem becomes more complex because you have never seen it as it is; you have taken it for granted that you are born lonely.

The dictionary meaning is the same; that shows the mind of the people who create dictionaries. They don’t understand at all the vast difference between loneliness and aloneness. Loneliness is a gap. Something is missing, something is needed to fill it, and nothing can ever fill it because it is a misunderstanding in the first place. As you grow older, the gap also grows bigger. People are so afraid to be by themselves that they do any kind of stupid thing. I have seen people playing cards alone; the other party is not there. They have invented games in which the same person plays cards from both sides. Somehow one wants to remain engaged. That engagement may be with people, may be with work . . . There are workaholics; they are afraid when the weekend comes close – what are they going to do? And if they don’t do anything, they are left to themselves, and that is the most painful experience.

You will be surprised to know that it is on the weekends that most of the accidents in the world happen. People are rushing in their cars to resort places, to sea beaches, to hill stations, bumper to bumper. It may take eight hours, ten hours to reach, and there is nothing for them to do because the whole crowd has come with them. Now their house, their neighborhood, their city is more peaceful than this sea resort. Everybody has come.

But some engagement . . .

People are playing cards, chess; people are watching television for hours. The average American watches television five hours a day; people are listening to the radio . . . just to avoid themselves. For all these activities, the only reason is – not to be left alone; it is very fearful. And this idea is taken from others. Who has told you that to be alone is a fearful state?

Those who have known aloneness say something absolutely different. They say there is nothing more beautiful, more peaceful, more joyful than being alone.

But you listen to the crowd. The people who live in misunderstanding are in such a majority, that who bothers about a Zarathustra, or a Gautam Buddha? These single individuals can be wrong, can be hallucinating, can be deceiving themselves or deceiving you, but millions of people cannot be wrong. And millions of people agree that to be left to oneself is the worst experience in life; it is hell.

But any relationship that is created because of the fear, because of the inner hell of being left alone, cannot be satisfying. Its very root is poisoned. You don’t love your woman, you are simply using her not to be lonely; neither does she love you. She is also in the same paranoia; she is using you not to be left alone.

Naturally, in the name of love anything may happen – except love. Fights may happen, arguments may happen, but even they are preferred to being lonely: at least somebody is there and you are engaged, you can forget your loneliness. But love is not possible, because there is no basic foundation for love.

Love never grows out of fear.

You are asking, “You said the other day that we are born alone, we live alone and we die alone. Yet it seems as if from the day we are born, whatever we are doing, whoever we are, we seek to relate to others.”

This seeking to relate to others is nothing but escapism. Even the smallest baby tries to find something to do; if nothing else, then he will suck his own big toes on his feet. It is an absolutely futile activity, nothing can come out of it, but it is engagement. He is doing something. You will see in the stations, in the airports, small boys and girls carrying their teddy bears; they cannot sleep without them. Darkness makes their loneliness even more dangerous. The teddy bear is a great protection; somebody is with them.

And your God is nothing but a teddy bear for grown-ups.

You cannot live as you are. Your relationships are not relationships. They are ugly. You are using the other person, and you know perfectly well the other person is using you. And to use anybody is to reduce him into a thing, into a commodity. You don’t have any respect for the person.

“In addition,” you are asking, “we are usually attracted to being intimate with one person in particular.”

It has a psychological reason. You are brought up by a mother, by a father; if you are a boy, you start loving your mother and you start being jealous of your father because he is a competitor; if you are a girl, you start loving your father and you hate your mother because she is a competitor. These are now established facts, not hypotheses, and the result of it turns your whole life into a misery. The boy carries the image of his mother as the model of a woman. He becomes conditioned continuously; he knows only one woman so closely, so intimately. Her face, her hair, her warmth – everything becomes an imprint. That’s exactly the scientific word used: it becomes an imprint in his psychology. And the same happens to the girl about the father.

When you grow up, you fall in love with some woman or with some man and you think, “Perhaps we are made for each other.” Nobody is made for anyone. But why do you feel attracted towards one certain person? It is because of your imprint. He must resemble your father in some way; she must resemble your mother in some way.

Of course no other woman can be exactly a replica of your mother, and anyway you are not in search of a mother, you are in search of a wife. But the imprint inside you decides who is the right woman for you. The moment you see that woman, there is no question of reasoning. You immediately feel attraction; your imprint immediately starts functioning – this is the woman for you, or this is the man for you.

It is good as far as meeting once in a while on the sea beach, in the movie hall, in the garden is concerned, because you don’t come to know each other totally. But you are both hankering to live together; you want to be married, and that is one of the most dangerous steps that lovers can take.

The moment you are married, you start becoming aware of the totality of the other person, and you are surprised on every single aspect – “Something went wrong; this is not the woman, this is not the man” – because they don’t fit with the ideal that you are carrying within you. And the trouble is multiplied because the woman is carrying an ideal of her father – you don’t fit with it. You are carrying the ideal of your mother – she does not fit with it. That’s why all marriages are failures.

Only very rare marriages are not failures – and I hope God should save you from those marriages which are not failures, because they are psychologically sick. There are people who are sadists, who enjoy torturing others, and there are people who are masochists, who enjoy torturing themselves. If a husband and wife belong to these two categories, that marriage will be a successful marriage. One is a masochist and one is a sadist – it is a perfect marriage, because one enjoys being tortured and one enjoys torturing. But ordinarily it is very difficult to find out in the first place whether you are a masochist or a sadist, and then to look for your other polarity . . . If you are wise enough you should go to the psychologist and enquire who you are, a masochist or a sadist? and ask if he can give you some references which can fit with you.

Sometimes, just by accident, it happens that a sadist and masochist become married. They are the happiest people in the world; they are fulfilling each other’s needs. But what kind of need is this? – they are both psychopaths, and they are living a life of torture. But otherwise, every marriage is going to fail, for one simple reason: the imprint is the problem.

Even in marriage, the basic reason for which you wanted to have the relationship is not fulfilled. You are more alone when you are with your wife than when you are alone. To leave husband and wife in a room by themselves is to make them both utterly miserable. One of my friends was retiring; he was a big industrialist, and he was retiring because of my advice. I said, “You have so much and you don’t have a son; you have two daughters and they are married in rich families. Now why unnecessarily bother about all kinds of worries – of business, and income tax, and this and that? You can close everything; you have enough. Even if you live one thousand years, it will do.”

He said, “That’s true. The real problem is not the business, the real problem is I will be left alone with my wife. I can retire right now if you promise me one thing, that you will live with us. I said, “This is strange. Are you retiring or am I retiring?”

He said, “That is the condition. Do you think I am interested in all these troubles? It is just to escape from my wife.”

The wife was a great social worker. She used to run an orphanage, a house for widows, and a hospital particularly for people who are beggars and cannot pay for their treatment.

I also asked her in the evening, “Do you really enjoy all this, from the morning till the evening?”

She said, “Enjoy? It is a kind of austerity, a self-imposed torture.”

I said, “Why should you impose this torture on yourself?” She said, “Just to avoid your friend. If we are left alone, that is the worst experience in life.”

And this is a love marriage, not an arranged marriage. They married each other against the whole family, the whole society, because they belonged to different religions, different castes; but their imprints gave them signals that this is the right woman, this is the right man. And all this happens unconsciously. That’s why you cannot answer why you have fallen in love with a certain woman, or with a certain man. It is not a conscious decision. It has been decided by your unconscious imprint.

Amiyo, this whole effort – whether of relationships or remaining busy in a thousand and one things – is just to escape from the idea that you are lonely. And I want it to be emphatically clear to you that this is where the meditator and the ordinary man part. The ordinary man goes on trying to forget his loneliness, and the meditator starts getting more and more acquainted with his aloneness. He has left the world; he has gone to the caves, to the mountains, to the forest, just for the sake of being alone. He wants to know who he is. In the crowd, it is difficult; there are so many disturbances. And those who have known their aloneness have known the greatest blissfulness possible to human beings – because your very being is blissful.

After being in tune with your aloneness, you can relate; then your relationship will bring great joys to you, because it is not out of fear. Finding your aloneness you can create, you can be involved in as many things as you want, because this involvement will not anymore be running away from yourself. Now it will be your expression; now it will be the manifestation of all that is your potential.

Only such a man – whether he lives alone or lives in the society, whether he marries or lives unmarried makes no difference – is always blissful, peaceful, silent. His life is a dance, is a song, is a flowering, is a fragrance. Whatever he does, he brings his fragrance to it.

But the first basic thing is to know your aloneness absolutely.

This escape from yourself you have learned from the crowd. Because everybody is escaping, you start escaping. Every child is born in a crowd and starts imitating people; what others are doing, he starts doing. He falls into the same miserable situations as others are in, and he starts thinking that this is what life is all about. And he has missed life completely.

So I remind you, don’t misunderstand aloneness as loneliness. Loneliness is certainly sick; aloneness is perfect health.

Ginsberg visits Doctor Goldberg. “Ja, you are sick.”

“Not good enough. I want another opinion.”

“Okay,” said Doctor Goldberg, “you are ugly too.”

We are all committing the same kinds of misunderstandings continually.

I would like my people to know that your first and most primary step towards finding the meaning and significance of life is to enter into your aloneness. It is your temple; it is where your God lives, and you cannot find this temple anywhere else. You can go on to the moon, to Mars . . .

Once you have entered your innermost core of being, you cannot believe your own eyes: you were carrying so much joy, so many blessings, so much love . . . and you were escaping from your own treasures.

Knowing these treasures and their inexhaustibility, you can move now into relationships, into creativity. You will help people by sharing your love, not by using them. You will give dignity to people by your love; you will not destroy their respect. And you will, without any effort, become a source for them to find their own treasures too. Whatever you make, whatever you do, you will spread your silence, your peace, your blessings into everything possible.

But this basic thing is not taught by any family, by any society, by any university. People go on living in misery, and it is taken for granted. Everybody is miserable, so it is nothing much if you are miserable; you cannot be an exception.

But I say unto you: You can be an exception. You just have not made the right effort.


From The Golden Future, Discourse #6, Q1

Copyright © OSHO International Foundation

An MP3 audio file of this discourse can be downloaded from Osho.com  or you can read the entire book online at the Osho Library.

Many of Osho’s books are available in the U.S. online from Amazon.com and Viha Osho Book Distributors. In India they are available from Amazon.in and Oshoworld.com.

Aloneness, the Everest of Meditation – Osho

I am loving my aloneness. I am feeling fulfilled, nourished, fresh with new energy and ecstatic. However, there are days when I feel lonely. Then I get sad, unmeditative and even grumpy. Osho, can you talk about how to go through the transition period from loneliness to aloneness?

Nirvano, aloneness is the Everest of meditation, the highest sunlit peak. Once you start enjoying aloneness, there is no end to where your joy stops growing. It goes on growing, it goes on spreading; it seems as if the whole universe is full of joy and full of fragrance. Aloneness is the greatest achievement in life but certainly there is a painful period of transition.

Man ordinarily lives in loneliness. To avoid loneliness, he creates all kinds of relationships, friendships, organizations, political parties, religions and what not. But the basic thing is that he is very much afraid of being lonely. Loneliness is a black hole, a darkness, a frightening negative state almost like death … as if you are being swallowed by death itself. To avoid it, you run out and fall into anybody, just to hold somebody’s hand, to feel that you are not lonely.

I have seen people when they are walking in the night on a lonely street, they start singing songs. Nobody has ever heard that they are singers! And what suddenly transpires that they become singers? – and loudly. They are simply trying to forget that they are lonely. They are trying to drown themselves in their own voice.

Nothing hurts more than loneliness.

But the trouble is, any relationship that arises out of the fear of being lonely is not going to be a blissful experience, because the other is also joining you out of fear. You both call it love. You are both deceiving yourself and the other. It is simply fear and fear can never be the source of love. Only those love who are absolutely fearless; only those love, who are able to be alone, joyously, whose need for the other has disappeared, who are sufficient unto themselves.

The common psychology of man is of loneliness. He does everything to avoid it. But whatever you do, it is always there, just like your shadow. You may not look at it, but you know it is there. And once in a while you cannot resist the temptation either: you will look and you will find it always there. You cannot escape from your shadow. In the same way you cannot escape from your loneliness just by creating friendships, relationships, marriages, organizations – religious, political, social. They give you a little relief, but they don’t transform anything.

The day you decide that all these efforts are failures, that your loneliness has remained untouched by all your efforts, that is a great moment of understanding. Then only one thing remains: to see whether loneliness is such a thing that you should be afraid of, or if it is just your nature. Then rather than running out and away, you close your eyes and go in. Suddenly the night is over, and a new dawn … The loneliness transforms into aloneness.

Aloneness is your nature. You were born alone, you will die alone. And you are living alone without understanding it, without being fully aware of it. You misunderstand aloneness as loneliness; it is simply a misunderstanding.

You are sufficient unto yourself.

The transition period is a little painful and difficult because of old habits but it won’t be long. And the way to make it short, bearable, is to enjoy your aloneness more and more. Make it a point that when you are enjoying your aloneness, you are not miserly. Then sing and dance, then paint. Do whatsoever you always wanted to do, but you were so much involved in relationships that there was no time left.

Be creative, and the more creative you are, the more rejoicing, the more dancing, the more songful your aloneness becomes. Those periods of sadness, of grumpiness – old habits – will start falling like dead leaves falling from the trees. They also cling for a little while, but they have to fall.

You just have to make your aloneness more and more strong. So you don’t have to do anything with your sadness or your grumpiness, or your fear that the old habit may come back again. You have not to think about that at all. You have to pour your whole energy into the joy of being alone. You have only a certain amount of energy – either you can dance or you can be sad. If you dance half-heartedly, then you are saving energy for sadness. That’s why I insist: live every moment totally and so intensely that no energy is left to be invested in sadness, in misery, in anger; there is simply no energy left.

So the whole effort has to be very positive. Feed and nourish your aloneness with all that you have, pour your love, and you will be surprised that those gaps of sadness and grumpiness are not coming anymore because you don’t have any energy for them and you are no longer in a welcoming mood for them.

And if by chance you find some clouds of sadness coming, just watch. Don’t get identified with them. Remember only one thing: everything passes. So these clouds will also pass. Many times before they have been there and they have passed, so there is no question that this time they are not going to pass away. So why unnecessarily get disturbed? You just let them pass. You remain absolutely unidentified and watchful.

If these two things are remembered, your aloneness gets your total energy so that no energy is left for anything else. But if in the beginning you don’t understand what is total and you are holding something back, then some moments will come. For that, use a watchfulness, unidentified with the moment, as if it has nothing to do with you, as if it is somebody else’s sadness, somebody else’s grumpiness – none of my business. Keep a distance; don’t let them come closer and become one with you.

That’s what I mean when I say, don’t identify. Don’t say, “I am sad,” simply say, “A cloud of sadness is passing in front of me.” Don’t say, “I am angry,” simply say, “A cloud of anger is just at the corner going by.” And it will not leave even a trace on you; it will not even touch you. And once you have become aware that by not identifying you become free of everything, you have a secret key in your hands for freedom from any kind of emotion, any mood, any thought.

This will remind you that you have not been putting your total energy into your aloneness, something is left. So next time, when you are again feeling alone and the clouds have gone and the sky is clear, put in more energy. You never know how much you have. You will know only when you put it into action, when you make the potential actual – only then will you know. When the seed comes to blossom, only then will you know what was hiding in that seed. So many flowers – such a small seed – so much green foliage, such a beauty. But you know only when things become actual.

Much of your life remains unlived; it never becomes actual. That’s why very few people are able to blossom. They live at the minimum – and I teach you to live at the optimum. […]

Just enjoy everything. When you are alone, laugh. Tell a beautiful joke to yourself, sing. But remember that you have to nourish your aloneness so much that it becomes the most beautiful experience of your life; that no sadness can overtake you; that no past can ever possess you again; that no old habit can get you again into patterns that you know perfectly well are simply misery and suffering.

Two things: one, a totality in aloneness. And if in the beginning sometimes you have not been total and a cloud comes, remain unidentified, far away. Slowly, slowly no sadness comes, no suffering comes, no feeling of loneliness comes.

And that does not mean that you cannot relate with people. In fact, only a person who lives in a beautiful aloneness is capable of relating, because it is not his need. He is not a beggar; he is not asking you for anything – not even your company. He is a giver. Out of his abundance of joy and peace and silence and bliss he shares. Then love has a totally different aroma to it, then it is a sharing. And if both persons know the beauty of aloneness, then love reaches to its highest point, which has very rarely been possible. Then it touches the very stars of the sky.

You cannot even dream of the beauty of it and the benediction of it – because both are overflowing with joy, both are overflowing with laughter, both are ready to give and nobody is asking for anything. Both are ready to give freedom, both are ready to give unconditionally. This love becomes one of the most beautiful meditations, in which two persons melt and merge and become one.

Aloneness does not mean you cannot relate. It simply means you will have to relate in a totally new way, which will not create suffering and misery, which will not create conflict, which will not be an effort – directly or indirectly – to dominate the other, to enslave the other. Because it is not out of fear, it is pure life. Out of fear is only death; out of fearlessness grows everything that is beautiful.

Just a joke for Nirvano. In her aloneness she can think about it.

A priest, a backpacker and Ronald Reagan were flying in a plane. Suddenly the pilot ran in and said, “The plane is about to crash. There are only three parachutes and I am taking one.” And he jumped out. Ronald Reagan grabbed the next parachute and said, “I am the smartest man in America and America needs me.” Then he jumped too.

The priest turned to the backpacker and said, “I am an old man. You take this last parachute and jump.” The backpacker laughed and said, “Don’t worry Father, the smartest man in America just grabbed my backpack and jumped.”


From The New Dawn, Discourse #27

Copyright© OSHO International Foundation

An MP3 audio file of this discourse can be downloaded from Osho.com  or you can read the entire book online at the Osho Library.

Many of Osho’s books are available in the U.S. online from Amazon.com and Viha Osho Book Distributors. In India they are available from Amazon.in and Oshoworld.com.

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