thCA535BWVSeveral years ago during a counselling course, I discovered  Anthony de Mello’s “Awareness.” 

This was one of the first times I had ever come across anyone deal directly with the experience of letting go of perceived needs on a path of growth.

And more especially the issues of loneliness and emptiness that can often seem to be part of the growth process.

 De Mello wrote of this in terms of the need for people. 

But it has been my experience that this concept also includes anything we think we need in order to feel fulfilled.

Or indeed anything with which we distract ourselves from feeling what might at first seem like an inner emptiness.  

In other words, that acts as a camouflage to our integrity, or wholeness.





Desert flower

Desert begins to flower

“How can you love people when you need people?  … When I die to the need for people, then I’m right in the desert.

In the beginning it feels awful, it feels lonely, but if you can take it for a while, you’ll suddenly discover that it isn’t lonely at all.

It is solitude, it is aloneness, and the desert begins to flower. 

Then at last you’ll know what love is, what God is, what reality is. But in the beginning, giving up the drug can be tough.”





Integrity as wholeness

One of the responsibilities of mature integration is self-sovereignty.   This can be a thorny issue.

Not only have most religious/metaphysical paradigms primed us to look for God outside ourselves, but our culture has systematically fostered the belief that our fulfilment, including emotional fulfilment,  also depends on outside sources. 

RosebudThe  “I can’t live without yoo-hoo-hoo!” mindset abounds, whether the “you” is a lover, status, financial success or whatever.

 A significant aspect of maturity is to be in one’s own power, in one’s own space.

For me, at least, the spiritual path has included many tests of my willingness to hold my own integrity and even stand alone, if needs be, and not give my power to any group, person, ideology, image or external validation.  

We may intuit that the goal of growth is a direct, living, breathing experience of the oneness of all life. However, it can seem that, on the way to that direct knowing of unity, we may have to let go of many of the God  (or inner connection) substitutes we have created. 

These substitutes or fillers  have distracted us, or filled the gap of emptiness, or have simply felt good in times of keenly feeling the pangs of separation.

In my own life, the temptation to avoid recognizing where I may have made a God-substitute out of someone or something can be very strong. 

But usually the call of my inner self will grow from a whisper to being very loud and clear, depending on how long I take to get the message!





Inner Call

Core self

Core self

This willingness was often difficult and challenging.

 But part of me would not compromise a deep sense of longing for ultimate oneness to the more immediately comforting but not quite “feeling right” comfort of externalizing something which my gut feelings knew was really internal.

It isn’t always easy to follow that inner call, but each small victory along the way gives a bit more strength. It is, I feel, part of the growth towards true integrity, remembering that the meaning of integrity, from the Latin root, is “wholeness.”

Loneliness, like fear or addiction, stems from the gap between I AM ALL-ONE and I AM AL-one. 

Can we be willing to acknowledge our loneliness, or indeed any fear within us, to look them in the eye, as it were? 

Can we have the courage not to try to assuage them with the usual comforts or distractions which we have been conditioned to use? 

These could be seeking company or numbness (through alcohol etc.), seeking  distraction or entertainment.

Another term for “entertainment” is “diversion”, and it often does a very good job of diverting our attention!






Finding the gift in the challenges

Without a living sense of our direct relationship with our spiritual core, our emotional selves can become parasitic and terrified of abandonment,   which they perceive as tantamount to a threat to their survival.  

Finding the gift

Finding the gift

If they cannot derive sustenance in the form of a relationship, nurturing or some external substitute as exemplified by addictive or compulsive behavior, they feel they will not survive. 

 “I love you” can thus often mean “I need you” which usually means “I feel that I need to get something from  you:”   

As we come into our own divine identity, we must strip away any veils or masks that have masqueraded as love.  

Ultimately, it is an untruth that anyone else can fill us or make us happy. 

  As we come more into our truth and our oneness with source, or whatever term feels right to us,  we will need to wean ourselves away from any type of neediness or dependence,  no matter how subtle or how well camouflaged.   

We must come to absolute truth within our own being and that means letting go of anything that has been used to substitute for that true anchoring within our own beings.

Are we willing instead to allow the loneliness, fear, addiction or whatever, to communicate with us, so that we can begin to see what it is that we have been substituting for that true inner connection?   If so, even if small measures at first, these times can be wonderful teachers. 

Instead of fighting, suppressing or denying these times, as I did for so long, thereby prolonging and exaggerating them, my intention now is to approach them as opportunities to replace a sticky, unhealthy attachment with a healthy connection to my true essence. 

The depth and intensity of any difficult feelings is actually a barometer of the depth of healing that can be achieved, and thus the depth of the gifts to be gained.





Inner life enhances connections with others

IRose walkingt requires honesty and a certain amount of self-love to be willing to do some inner exploration.  

And, as with all spiritual paradoxes, it has been my experience that whatever it is I felt I needed not to be lonely or afraid, or whatever, becomes freely available to me once I have lost any attachment to it or let go of a feeling that I needed it.

And, as de Mello suggests, each step of this process enhances my relationships with those around me.

I know that many people on a path of growth can experience deep loneliness or the feeling of not being heard or understood.   

We are letting go of so many attachments and cords that when they are first released there can be a sense of loss or of being at a loss.  

What can be difficult is the time between the letting go and the reconnection.  My experience is that the less I resist it and the more I learn to value it, the more quickly it is resolved.   





Authentic connection

BuddhaIn this context, a friend and I had been talking about silence, solitude, loneliness and love. 

She then forwarded on to me the following quotation from the playwright Ionesco: 

“Life has to be thoroughly impregnated with solitude in order to be livable.

 Everyone needs a personal space to live.   My characters are simply people who do not know how to be alone. 

That is why, in certain of my plays, my characters are always with one another and always chattering.     

They are noisy because they have forgotten the meaning and value of solitude.   And that is why they are alone- alone in a quite different way…..    

People talking,   saying any old thing because they are cut off,  separated from themselves and therefore from other people.”

Being connected with ourselves is a core ingredient in being able to create and enjoy an authentic connection with the world around us.




A healthy forest

woodsI have sometimes used a very basic analogy to help myself when these issues come up.  

 I imagine a forest of all sorts of different trees.  

The glory of the forest is for each tree to be rooted firmly in the ground, in its own space.

The deeper its roots, the more it can stretch towards the sky.  

In a sense, the more each tree can be alone, anchored in its own roots and not leaning towards another tree for any kind of support, the stronger the ‘group consciousness’ of the forest.   

It is one of those paradoxes which can be challenging but also which point the way towards a more profound sense of unity. 

 A unity which is the ongoing reward of being willing to look at whatever it is we have allowed to become a filler or God substitute.  

This has happened so often for me that it has got easier to spot the issues a bit earlier than I used to. 

It really is that my relationship with Source  comes first, and loneliness along the way can be a superb teacher, if I have the courage to allow it to be.


Rose Tobin