I enjoyed reading James and Alexandra‘s posts, which I find to be deeply relevant to life and the human condition. James, thanks for sharing your story, and Alexandra, thanks for sharing your insight. I would like to add one more perspective to your interesting discussion and would like to use my own experience as an example:
When I was a sophomore in college, I recall having profound loneliness, and as a result, depression. Logically, there was no reason for me to feel lonely….
When I was a sophomore in college, I recall having profound loneliness, and as a result, depression. Logically, there was no reason for me to feel lonely, because I had a girlfriend, as well as a group of supportive male friends. Yet, I still felt bitterly lonely. As a psychology major at the time, I studied the academic research that was available on loneliness. Also, inwardly, I deeply investigated what loneliness was, where it came from, and the different ways that people try to get rid of it.
Then suddenly, out of nowhere, it disappeared one day, and it was like a burden had been lifted. The inner anguish and emotional pain of loneliness had disappeared and I was finally freed from it. Once it was extinguished, my mind became free and felt at ease.
Over the course of the following few years, I grew to absolutely love and delight in solitude. I had the attitude that Alexandra described in the previous post.
Over the course of the following few years, I grew to absolutely love and delight in solitude. I had the attitude that Alexandra described in the previous post. Often I would fantasize about living the life of a hermit in beautiful, secluded mountains, living out my years cultivating and enjoying the bliss of solitude. Due to my love of silence and aloneness, I would intentionally avoid people, especially crowds, and make efforts to remain alone. As can be seen, I had become attached to the opposite of loneliness.
However, after I came across Buddhist teachings via Master Hua, I came to realize that an attitude such as that is also not beneficial from the perspective of the Bodhisattva Path. I learned that a Bodhisattva should be neither attached to solitude nor to companionship. A Bodhisattva should cultivate the Middle Way by finding contentment in any situation, no matter whether he or she is in a raucous crowd or in desolate solitude. If a Bodhisattva doesn’t, then in the future he or she will be incapable of adapting to the circumstances of living beings in order to teach and transform them. A Bodhisattva must be flexible and remain content in any situation, so he or she can accord with the conditions of living beings.
Trying to attain such an enlightened Bodhisattva attitude is something that I still continue to work on. I still find myself seeking solitude and silence. I can clearly see that those attachments remain in my mind. Therefore, I would like to use this current life to foster a mind that becomes neither lonely while in solitude nor afflicted while in a crowd. James stressed the importance of patience in his post. I know I will need to rely on patience in order to foster such a mind.