There is something that keeps coming up as a topic of conversation, but I have never gotten around to writing about it. Today I had some thoughts about it, so I decided it was time.
It's about feeling lonely. Specifically feeling lonely on the spiritual path. I have a handful of friends that you would call "spiritual leaders"—they teach, coach, write or otherwise have a trusted voice. And all of them/us feel lonely on the path.
There are a lot of reasons for this. We're mostly solitary seekers, so we don't have a group that we delve into these questions with. Or, if we do, we're the leader of that group and that makes us different in group dynamics. And, also, the further down the path you seek, the fewer people are out there. And, sooner or later, you seek in realms where there are no guidebooks and few road markers to help you on your way.
Those are the more "flattering" reasons, and all are true. But there are also other possibilities.
The fact is, being a human, period, is a lonely, uncomfortable row to hoe. The further you travel along your path, the deeper the realization of this may become. You may realize how far, by being a separate individual here on earth, which is the mission you agreed to before you came, you have disconnected from source, despite possibly being more connected than others. And by source, I mean God, the universe or whatever you feel is larger and more vast than any entity here on earth.
When you boil it down, life is a solitary thing. Sure, there are people who support you through this difficulty and that. But as people come and go from our lives, experiences get cobbled together and nobody else has been exposed to your blend of experiences. Nobody else has your unique way of looking at those experiences. We might have good people and great relationships all around us and yet, in the still, quiet moments we'll all experience loneliness at one time or another.
For some, those moments will be comforted by faith in a higher power or a connection to the oneness in us all. But life will always intrude and bring us back into our humanness. It's inevitable.
I'm not going to claim to have all the answers, so maybe I'm wrong. But I see people who feel lonely and think it's because they don't have a mate or they don't have enough friends. And I believe mates and friends are distractions that make you feel less lonely. But they don't cure the loneliness.
Nothing cures the loneliness. Because the fact is, each of us is alone. We're born alone. We die alone. And in between we distract ourselves from loneliness, but we're still alone. And feeling sorry for ourselves or comparing ourselves to people we perceive to be less lonely doesn't really help.
What helps, I think is knowing why we feel alone. Much of it is our ego telling us we need to be affirmed by others and if we're not affirmed enough or often enough, we feel alone. But when you move past that level of loneliness, I believe it's because you're "clear" enough to feel the weight of the solitary task you've taken on here on earth. You're clear enough to see how irreparably alone you will remain as long as you have human consciousness.
The human consciousness is what you came here to experience. It's a totally unique and complex way of learning and growing that you can't find anywhere else. But that part of us that is universal can never quite forget it has to be separated from source in order to make that possible. We have to feel fear. We have to feel loneliness. We have to experience discomfort. We have to have ups and downs. That's what we came to do. We can't do that unless we separate from that which feels no fear, loneliness, discomfort or imbalance.
Your soul may be part of something larger, but the individual you came here to be is on a solitary journey. Which doesn't mean you can't have companions along the way, but only you can come here to do what your unique individual part of the whole came here to do. Rather than your loneliness and discomfort telling you you're doing something wrong, they're actually indicating you're doing something right.
Because it's such a solitary thing, it's also really hard. And the more you let go of the distractions—social gatherings, alcohol, TV, reading, work, whatever—the harder and lonelier it becomes. Because you're left alone with your inner work. You're left alone with your mission and wherever you might be on that trail. Or, because many people feel they don't know what their mission or purpose is, you're left alone with that. And all of it is painful and/or difficult and/or uncomfortable for a human to face.
I do believe, though, that there is a way to reframe all of it. First, if you have a cooperative and loving relationship with your soul, you actually are never fully alone. Because the individual you came here to be and your soul are separate, but connected entities, one of which dies and the other which is everlasting. And if you can feel the way your soul is there to comfort you lovingly during those moments of loneliness or exhaustion, you can get a different take on it. Sure, your ego will always tell you that another individual is the answer to the problem, but really, everything you need is inside you.
I wrote about spiritual adulthood in a previous blog. In that blog, I defined spiritual adulthood as having three core components—awareness of yourself and your own consistencies and inconsistencies; personal responsibility and the ability to fess up to your consistencies and inconsistencies; and the will to break free from the kinds of behaviors and attitudes that keep you from having a deeper relationship with your soul or higher self.
Spiritual adulthood is a massively hard role to undertake, one only taken on by those souls and individuals who are willing to make the tradeoffs necessary to go exploring off ego-paved paths. And here's the kicker...there's no confetti flying once you finally reach your destination, because there's no destination to reach. Just more journey. The second you realign one inconsistency, another will become apparent. And then you'll have to come around to addressing that one, too. It takes a lot of staying power.
And, then once you've crossed over the threshold of spiritual adulthood and become conscious of yourself and your soul and how you're both connect and disconnected from source, there really aren't any good places left to hide. You can try to hide, but once the lights are turned on in your consciousness you're pretty much screwed. So you just become more and more raw in the face of the loneliness and difficulty and have to learn to come to peace with that, too.
As everything on the spiritual journey, it comes down to trust. You have to trust that the soul that chose your body, personality and path has a higher wisdom and is guiding you correctly. As humans, we tend to gravitate toward that which makes us comfortable and we tend to cling to the ego mindsets we perceive hold value. As seekers, however, we tend to gravitate to that which makes us uncomfortable and that which requires we shed things that once held value, because that's where the higher wisdom is found. And wherever higher wisdom is found, that's where we can meet with our higher selves and our god-selves in the most meaningful ways.