It is common these days for us to have many casual friends. Social networking sites make it very easy for us to connect with others in a friendly way and share our personal thoughts, feelings, and moments with like-minded people. Although we are generally interacting with a larger quantity of people than ever, we are nevertheless, lonelier than ever. This age is being called by some “the age of loneliness” and it is estimated the one in five Americans suffers from persistent loneliness.
So many of us feel lonely deep inside, even though we may be popular in our social circles, have the admiration of many friends, and even be married with children. Being surrounded by people does not make us less lonely. It may keep us busy. It may temporary distract us from the loneliness we feel. But it does not solve the problem of loneliness. Loneliness is an inner condition of emptiness, so cannot be resolved through changing our external situations. Filling our life with people is not synonymous with filling our hearts with love.
So what can we do to solve the problem of loneliness?
If we understand the root cause of the problem, then we can apply the appropriate remedy.
The problem of loneliness is not just a mental, emotional, or physical problem. It is actually much deeper than this. It is a condition of spiritual emptiness caused by our strong identification with the huge world of materiality and a corresponding lack of awareness of our true spiritual identity.
Most of us grow up in the assumption that we are our bodies and our minds. If asked to describe ourselves, we will immediately begin describing the features of our body and mind. I am a man or woman, with a particular age, body type, ethnicity, occupation, family and social roles, and so on. I am passionate, energetic, friendly, out-going, and artistic. Generally, we identify so closely with our mind and body that we fully believe this is who we are. But here is the reality of the situation clearly explained by Jagad Guru
However, according to the ancient yoga scriptures and other bona fide scriptures of the world, this is not who we are. In actuality, we are the eternal spiritual self who is temporarily wearing the mind and body. The mind and body are like layers of clothes. The gross physical body is like an outer layer of clothes. The mind, or subtle body, is like an under layer of clothes. Just as we are not the shirt, pants, etc. that we currently have on, we are not these “clothes” either. The mind and body are made of material energy, but we are made of a totally different kind of energy – spiritual energy.
Although most of us live under the misconception that we are material and completely base our life upon this fallacy, we can never be material. We are eternally spiritual, eternally separate from material energy by our very constitution. When we are not aware of our true spiritual identity, we will try very hard to find satisfaction in living as if we were material – constantly searching for fulfillment in sense pleasures and relationships based upon physical and mental connections. However, these interactions can never fulfill us. Whatever pleasure or warmth we derive from these activities does not actually touch us, but stays on the surface level of the mind (thoughts, emotions, etc.) and physical body – on the level of our “clothes.”
This is why we can feel so lonely and empty deep inside, even if our lives are full with relationships and social activity. Our problem cannot be solved through increasing or improving our material relationships. Rather, we need to engage in a relationship that will actually fulfill the spiritual self (us) wearing the material coverings. We need to engage in a conscious relationship with our spiritual Source, the very foundation of our existence.
Our longing for loving connection in this world is actually a longing to be reunited with our Supreme Friend. When we turn away from our spiritual nature and become lost in our material coverings, we unconsciously look for the Supreme in the temporary forms and relationships of this material world. We try to recreate the divine closeness and love that we are deeply missing. But because what we are looking for can only be found in our relationship with the Supreme Person, we feel a constant emptiness in the core of our hearts, a longing for a lost love , a pervasive and seemingly inexplicable loneliness. This is the loneliness of our age – a loneliness caused by our forgetfulness of our most essential relationship.
Fortunately, the Supreme Person Himself provides us with a way to reconnect with Him – to remember Him, to know and relate with Him in a very direct and personal way, and to naturally develop our love for Him. All scriptures of the world recommend meditation on the transcendental Names of the Supreme Person. In the yoga scriptures, this method for linking up with Supreme is described in detail and very clearly designated as the primary method for this day and age.
In the yoga system, this meditation is called mantra meditation. A mantra is a Name of God. When we hear and repeat a mantra, we are actually putting ourselves in the direct presence of the Supreme. This is because His Names are not ordinary sound. Rather, they are the Supreme Person in the form of spiritual sound vibration.
The Supreme in the form of spiritual sound descends from the spiritual platform to the material world without losing any of His potencies. Unlike us, He is never influenced by the material energy. The Supreme is always the Supreme regardless of where or how He chooses to appear. In this case, He appears as spiritual sound vibration to give those who want to personally know and relate with Him an easily accessible way to do this.
When we hear and chant or sing these transcendental Names of the Supreme, we are purifying our consciousness of material influence and realigning ourselves with the Supreme. The more purified our consciousness becomes, the more we are able to directly experience the presence of the Supreme Person in His Names and in our hearts . Through daily practice of mantra meditation, we become gradually more and more open to receive the warmth and love of God, – and the seed of love for Him sprouts and grows within us. In this way, we can cultivate a close and personal relationship with our Supreme Friend.
Thus, we can realize for ourselves the truth related in the scriptures – that God is not just an impersonal energy or someone who is so distant from us that we must worship Him from afar. He is our best Friend, closest relative, and ever well-wisher. He is most happy when He can relate with us in a very sweet, friendly, open, and loving way. And we are most happy when we can relate with Him in this way, too.
This is the solution to our problem of loneliness. When we are living daily in awareness of our true identity and are actively engaged in cultivating our inner relationship with our eternal Friend, our hearts are naturally full with the happiness and warmth of love. This is a spiritual fullness, so is not dependent upon any material factor. Whether we are in solitude or surrounded by friends and family, whether we are being revered or rejected, our heart remains fixed and full in transcendental love due to our loving relationship with God.
Even in the darkest of times, when all other friends and fortune may have left us, even when we leave our body at the end of our lifetime, our Supreme Friend remains with us. Through embracing His Names, we can feel Him within our heart, sweetly reminding us by His presence that we are never truly alone.