Monday, April 16, 2012

Am I Alone in This ?

I've had several exchanges over the weekend wherein I've heard this sentiment expressed, sometimes using those very words... but not as a question, but rather as a fact: "I feel I'm in this alone." "I'm lonely." "I'm doing this without any help." "Others wouldn't understand."

Exchange after exchange, there it was, clear as day: "I am alone in this." And beyond there, look at how they all behave when they believe it! Look at the angst, the aggravation, the suffering, ... One is alone bearing the burden; the other is alone, locked out from being able to help. One feels removed from a community; others do not want to be a bother. On and on, pulling the thread, finding so many examples... If only one knew that the other was feeling the same.

But wait: Is it really possible that the entire world feels alone? With whom could I even discuss this question?

Ahhhh....

How can I really be alone when I'm spending all of my time with this idea or feeling that is very much alive? If I become single-minded in seeing Alone, when would I even have the time to see anyone else? Moreover, if I cannot place that sense of aloneness within myself, won't I be prone to seeing it everywhere around me? Have you been introduced to the "Zen mirror"?

Whether it begins in hearing others say they're alone (a concept) or whether it begins with your own sense of loneliness (a feeling), you should take care to identify it and treat it carefully. After all, if you become infected, you see how it can be instantly contagious to everyone around you.

Need help? Remember: Don't Suffer Alone.

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4 comments:

Rick said...

身是菩提樹, The body is a Bodhi tree,
心如明鏡臺。 The mind a standing mirror bright.
時時勤拂拭, At all times polish it diligently,
勿使惹塵埃。 And let no dust alight.
菩提本無樹, Bodhi is fundamentally without any tree;
明鏡亦非臺。 The bright mirror is also not a stand.
本來無一物, Fundamentally there is not a single thing —
何處惹塵埃。 Where could any dust be attracted?

Joseph McParland said...

Above and below, on the left and on the right--everywhere reflections of reflections. I don't know where to begin... ;-)

Thank you so much, Rick!

Tom Swiss said...

Sometimes I feel that the core message of all useful poetry, art, literature, spirituality, music, whatever, is: "Someone else feels this way too."

"Walked out this morning
Don't believe what I saw
A hundred billion bottles
Washed up on the shore
Seems I'm not alone at being alone
A hundred billion casatways
Looking for a home." -- Message In A Bottle, The Police

Joseph McParland said...

When your sentiment finds a voice from outside yourself, there's a resonance, maybe even an attraction to explore further, a positive validating feedback. It's part of that social magic that somehow makes everything work--very cool stuff!

Going a bit further, though, I think one aspect of zen training is seeing that sometimes we may not be hearing what is actually said...

These days koans are my vice. To me, they're like pieces of art that beg you to interpret, or to misinterpret, and then onward to concern about misinterpreting, and so on--showing how we routinely function this way when there's something inside you--opinions, desires, loneliness, and so forth--that wants you to notice it.

Thanks for the lyrics, Tom! Nice memories for me :-)