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About solitude
Answer
3/24/14 4:20 PM
Greetings... I will try to explain in my English this matter.
I would like to tell about the direction my life is taking, waiting for commentaries, suggestions and about if someone feels identifiy.

My background in the "spiritual quest" is 8 vipassana retreats (Goenka and Mahasi, the longest 22 days) and the last 2-3 years I practice 1-2 hours per day (plus selfretreats): I practice with big emphasis in Jhana (relaxing the whole body first), sometimes Vimalaramsi´s approach and vipassana according to the exercises of the 3 characteristics chapter of Ingram´s book, that I feel more profound and convenient than Mahasi´s technique itself. In daily life I devote more and more time in actualist practice like AF, Douglas Harding exercises, self-indagation (advaita), etc...

Last years I travelled a lot and always alone (I love and prefer), what makes me feel more living, enjoying nature and freedom without having to talk all the time (what is usual in this country).
My "lonely" life is also based on many hobbies. I loved them and make my inner life very stimulating and rich (I feel it like this). For instance: I play 2 musical instruments everyday.

The reason I am writing is the clear tendency that I feel from many years ago and is becoming deeper and deeper, that is: "I feel more and more at ease alone, and worse and worse accompanied". My life is quite lonely but I don´t feel psychological tensions at all because for going alone to many places and boredom is unknown for me. I feel happy and peaceful.
Externally I have a lot of friends and I meet them often. They don´t notice anything but I feel that this meetings tire me in a certain way, even with my best friends. I enjoy talking but sincerely I prefer to be alone (this is like a "soul message", difficult to explain): there is more peace, I feel the life more profound and intense, sense perceptions are more rich... I feel the chat and to share sort of unnecesary and weary.
I also feel mental blocks to intimate with women: big laziness for the idea about of a relationship: feeling like "no people can enrich my life". In fact, my last 2 relationships were cold, little contact, but comfortable, no arguements and satisfactory sex.
Actually my natural tendency would be to rent a house in a forest and lead a simple life (silence is the thing I most enjoy): when I do I feel good. But at the same time I think and feel that human relationships are worth to develop.. the same as the idea of a profound, trusted intimate relationship, but I don´t know if I would be able to.
That is my question: in short: big appreciation for solitude, small sexual desire, superficial extroversion but in the background desire to come back to the silence...
Maybe this is because of my practice, maybe I am a jhana-addicted, maybe actually I have psychological problems (even of transpersonal nature)... maybe It is not a problem at all....

Thank you to this excellent forum

RE: About solitude
Answer
3/24/14 6:20 PM as a reply to Jose Moral.
Jose Moral:
Greetings... I will try to explain in my English this matter.
I would like to tell about the direction my life is taking, waiting for commentaries, suggestions and about if someone feels identifiy.

Last years I travelled a lot and always alone (I love and prefer), what makes me feel more living, enjoying nature and freedom without having to talk all the time (what is usual in this country).
My "lonely" life is also based on many hobbies. I loved them and make my inner life very stimulating and rich (I feel it like this).

The reason I am writing is the clear tendency that I feel from many years ago and is becoming deeper and deeper, that is: "I feel more and more at ease alone, and worse and worse accompanied".

My life is quite lonely but I don´t feel psychological tensions at all because for going alone to many places and boredom is unknown for me. I feel happy and peaceful.

Externally I have a lot of friends and I meet them often. They don´t notice anything but I feel that this meetings tire me in a certain way, even with my best friends. I enjoy talking but sincerely I prefer to be alone (this is like a "soul message", difficult to explain): there is more peace, I feel the life more profound and intense, sense perceptions are more rich... I feel the chat and to share sort of unnecesary and weary.

Actually my natural tendency would be to rent a house in a forest and lead a simple life (silence is the thing I most enjoy): when I do I feel good.

That is my question: in short: big appreciation for solitude, small sexual desire, superficial extroversion but in the background desire to come back to the silence...

Maybe this is because of my practice, ... maybe It is not a problem at all....

You are in good company. Gotama was known to be, and was described as, a recluse. He sought out solitude at every opportunity. And was known to walk off from groups of people who were being noisy or argumentative.

Solitude is very important for all the reasons you've listed. I, too, enjoy solitude.

RE: About solitude
Answer
3/24/14 7:04 PM as a reply to Ian And.
I also identify with a preference for solitude. Thank you both for your posts.

RE: About solitude
Answer
3/25/14 11:52 AM as a reply to Jose Moral.
people, even (or especially) the ones we love are stressful. every relationship is soaked in cultural and interpersonal baggage. the way we are expected to act differs from person to person and role to role.

i love being alone always. i love being with some people but only when i select that and understand the risks and costs of the stresses that accompany that choice.

i am rarely lonely.

tom

RE: About solitude
Answer
3/25/14 11:19 PM as a reply to Jose Moral.
You might be interested in a series of four suttas in the Majjima Nikaya that express the Buddha's ideal of solitude as it relates to the Dhamma. The following PDF explains this in vivid detail.

The Discourse on the Ideal Lover of Solitude

The first of these suttas describes the context in which solitude plays a role in one's practice:

I. Bhaddekaratta Sutta

The Discourse on the Ideal Lover of Solitude



Thus have I heard: At one time the Exalted one was living at Sāvatthī in the Jeta Grove,
Anāthapiṇḍika’s monastery. There he addressed the monks thus: “monks.” “Revered one,” the
monks answered the Exalted One in assent. The Exalted one spoke thus “monks, I shall preach
to you the summary and the exposition of the Ideal Lover of Solitude. Listen and give attention.
I shall speak.” “Even so, revered sir,” the monks answered the Exalted One in assent. The
Exalted One said this:

Let one not trace back the past
Or yearn for the future-yet-to-come.
That which is past is left behind
Unattained is the “yet-to-come.”
But that which is present he discerns—
With insight as and when it comes.
The Immovable—the-non-irritable.
In that state should the wise one grow
Today itself should one bestir
Tomorrow death may come—who knows?
For no bargain can we strike
With Death who has his mighty hosts.
But one who dwells thus ardently
By day, by night, untiringly
Him the Tranquil Sage has called
The Ideal Lover of Solitude.

“And how, monks, does one trace back the past? He thinks: ’I was of such form in the past’ and
brings delight to bear on it. He thinks: ’I was of such feeling in the past’ and brings delight to
bear on it. He thinks: ’I was of such perception in the past’ and brings delight to bear on it. He
thinks: ’I was of such formations in the past’ and brings delight to bear on them. He thinks: ’I
was of such consciousness in the past’ and brings delight to bear on it. That is how, monks, one
traces back the past.

“And how, monks, does one not trace back the past? He thinks: ’I was of such form in the
past’ but brings no delight to bear on it. He thinks: ’I was of such feeling… of such perception…
of such formations…’… He thinks: ’I was of such consciousness in the past’ but brings no
delight to bear on it. That is how, monks, one does not trace back the past.

“And how, monks, does one yearn for the future? He thinks: ’I may have such form in the
future’ and brings delight to bear on it. He thinks: ’I may have such feeling… such perception…
such formations…’… He thinks: ’I may have such consciousness in the future’ and brings
delight to bear on it. That is how, monks, one yearns for the future.

“And how, monks, does one not yearn for the future? He thinks: ’I may have such form in the
future’ but brings no delight to bear on it. He thinks: ’I may have such feeling… such
perception… such formations…’… He thinks: ’I may have such consciousness in the future’ but
brings no delight to bear on it. That is how, monks, one does not yearn for the future.

“And how is one drawn into present things? Herein, monks, an uninstructed ordinary man
who takes no account of the Noble Ones, is unskilled in the Dhamma of the Noble Ones,
untrained in the Dhamma of the Noble Ones, taking no account of the good men, unskilled in
the Dhamma of the good men, untrained in the Dhamma of the good men, looks upon form as
self, or self as possessed of form, or form as in self, or self as in form. He looks upon feeling as
self, or self as possessed of feeling, or feeling as in self, or self as in feeling. He looks upon
perception as self, or self as possessed of perception, or perception as in self, or self as in
perception. He looks upon formations as self, or self as possessed of formations, or formations
as in self, or self as in formations. He looks upon consciousness as self, or self as possessed of
consciousness, or consciousness as in self, or self as in consciousness. That is how, monks, one is
drawn into present things.

“And how, monks, is one not drawn into present things? Herein, monks, an instructed Noble
disciple who takes into account the Noble Ones, skilled in the Dhamma of the Noble Ones,
trained in the Dhamma of the Noble Ones, taking into account the good men, skilled in the
Dhamma of the good men, trained in the Dhamma of the good men, does not look upon form as
self, or self as possessed of form, or form as in self, or self as in form. He does not look upon
feeling as self… He does not look upon perception as self… He does not look upon formations
as self… He does not look upon consciousness as self, or self as possessed of consciousness, or
consciousness as in self, or self as in consciousness. That is how, monks, one is not drawn into
present things.

Let one not trace back the past
(…as above…)
Him the Tranquil Sage has called
The Ideal Lover of Solitude.”

So it was with reference to this that it was said: “monks, I shall preach to you the summary and
the exposition of the Ideal Lover of Solitude.”

Thus spoke the Exalted One, Delighted, those monks rejoiced in what the Exalted One had
said.

RE: About solitude
Answer
3/25/14 11:36 PM as a reply to Jose Moral.
He who does not enjoy solitude, will not love freedom. Arthur Schopenhauer

RE: About solitude
Answer
3/26/14 7:34 AM as a reply to Jose Moral.
Interesting post. I am going through a similar situation. I looked into "social anxiety disorder", some of the stuff made sense.

RE: About solitude
Answer
3/26/14 8:04 AM as a reply to Jose Moral.
Thank you.
I see that some seekers feels good in solitude... for me it is something great, a real power to be able to stay alone without any tension whatsoever... people are so dependent. It is a way of freedom. I am always clear about the nature can teach us more than people... its perfect flow versus neurotic-contemporary human beings.

But the reason I wrote this post is about the lack of flow in relationships. Maybe I am conditioned by the New Age ideas about flowing in any circumstances and so on, but actually I feel a lack ok flow even with good friends (my style of life allow me to choose people around me, to a certain extent). Like a subtle desire to escape.
Since conversations are a obvius expenditure of energy, maybe it is a desire to come back to more calm and well-balanced. In fact, I consider to walk in a virgin place in nature with people a waste of time (the difference with going alone enjoying the sensorial world is overwhelming)

I am hesitating in accepting it like a part of the detachment process (that it is supposed to happen in the spiritual quest) and tend to retire more and more, or trying to face it (like many friends are doing through some techniques) with some therapy...

greetings

RE: About solitude
Answer
3/26/14 12:15 PM as a reply to Jose Moral.
I'm going through something similar. I used to be always buzzing around visiting, calling on the phone, gossiping, and otherwise running my mouth. I no longer want to do these things--losing my addiction to conflict has taken the juice out of lots of relationships. I sometimes fall back into it as a habit, but mostly I find myself not socializing. Parties and gatherings exhaust me. Sometimes I'll catch up with someone one-on-one, which is nice. My husband is an introvert, so we really don't have any couple friends. We used to give dinner parties all the time, but haven't done it in years. Going to the mall is a misery-inducing experience.

Yet I can't say I'm completely at peace with this reality. I sometimes think I "should" have more friends. What I'm beginning to think, though, is that we need certain things at certain times in our lives, and then maybe later we'll need something else. So let yourself have this time alone and see how it works for you. It may be that at some point you'll find new bases for relationships with others that you can't foresee just now. If you are paying attention and practicing insight, you'll be able to determine whether you're in a destructive pattern sooner or later. Then you will learn how to change it. I'm saying this to myself as much as to you.

"I don´t need anybody"?!
Answer
4/10/14 10:19 AM as a reply to Jane Laurel Carrington.
Thank you.

Another feeling I would like to mention (because it is extremely unusual nowadays) is that I feel (for a long time) myself like "complete", with a very interesting style of life and inner world, so the sensation "I don´t feel nobody" may sound arrogant, but I am living from this kind of detachment (someone feels in this way?)

We choose our friends, so It is ok, but for instance: the couple. People seem to look for a partner to avoid solitude (sort of finding someone who complete me). I think nobody can provide me something valuable, beyond my comfort zone. With my girlfriends was like this: good daily coexistence and sex but I enjoy much more every moment in solitude and silence.
So, perhaps I have to admit this quality of my present moment, but actually is going deeper and deeper, so I don´t know If I should deal with this now (and go out from the comfort zone to the "imperfect" world) via any therapy or something like that.
That is the reason I am writing here, trying to understand if this is relatively normal in the spiritual quest (If one can see onself honestly and deeply), that is "detachment", or is obviously pathological.

thank you very much

RE: "I don´t need anybody"?!
Answer
4/10/14 7:58 PM as a reply to Jose Moral.
In reading this again, I am struck by the self/other split in this discussion. Conventionally speaking, there is solitude. We can be "alone" away from other people. Ultimately though, even while alone we are experiencing thoughts and sensations. These thoughts are not "ours" ultimately but rather conditioned by the relationships we have developed with past phenomena and/or people. Often times, I will have thoughts, when alone, that is as if a close friend is sharing an idea, or a parent, or perhaps thoughts from a book that I read which is not my thought at all but a thought that some "other" person wrote down. On the flip side, when with another person, when observing the sensate representation of the "other" there is ultimately no separation from the sensations and perceptions of that person and the person themselves. The "where do I end and the other begins" sort of idea. In this sense, the "other" is similar to any other sensation we experience (e.g. the discursive thought process, the heart beat etc..). So perhaps we can experience "solitude" when in the presence of "others" and friendship and comradery when in "solitude." I wonder what the manifestation of thoughts I experience would be like if I was placed in solitude from birth to my current age?

RE: About solitude
Answer
7/23/14 9:54 AM as a reply to Jose Moral.
I also really enjoy solitude, and in some ways consider myself a bit of a loner. Having said that I do enjoy the company of people, if we have a connection and understand/care for each other.

For me, much of the pain of being around people seems to basically revolve around judgments. Either my subtle and unacknowledged judgments of them, their character, ideas, values, speech, which can instantly turn any encounter sour, or my fear of being judged/misunderstood/outcast, which is in some ways also a type of judgment (judging the other person to be someone who will judge you, or judging myself as being somehow flawed and likely to be criticised etc).

There's also an irony in that freedom that requries solitude isn't really freedom. It's not free in the sense that it is based on a very specific condition, the condition of not having people around you.

So for example, if you dislike people but like nature, it follows that when being around people you will feel judgments and when being around nature you won't. If we define freedom as having a still mind, and we define a still mind as a mind that doesn't judge, then to achieve real freedom your mind has to be able to let go of its judgments of people. Which of course is tricky and in some ways is the real meat of practice of both daily life and the cushion, vipassana and the bramha viharas and all that.

Which I think is what Drew Miller is getting at with his practice descriptions.



Same for the questions about being with a partner who can "enrich your life": are there perhaps any hidden judgments with this type of thinking? I think it's telling that you describe it as a "mental block", which to me sounds like it could be a form of unacknowledged shadow, hidden judgments, etc. If it truly wasn't a problem you probably wouldn't bring it up here.


To me, falling in love can be one of the most beautiful and illuminating experiences there is, and I cannot imagine ever getting to a place in practice where there is nobody who could "enrich my life", no matter how "enlightened" I become. Relationships are also of course very difficult and an important area of practice (particularly in one's own psychological shadow and judgments etc and ability to handle worldly responsibilities and daily life).


From the point of view of liberation and suffering, then of course any suffering has to be examined and "vipassana-ized"

And it seems to me there is an ethical dimension to all of this too: seeing as we are all in relationships of one form or another, with family, friends, co-workers, and people we meet or see throughout the course of each day, our ability to treat them with kindness and not cause any suffering to ourselves or them and to get to a point where we can be the opposite, to actually enrich other people, seems to be an important dimension of sila to me (and part of why the bramha viharas exist)






From my random point of view, I'd say what you describe is probably a normal part of the "spiritual quest" for people of certain introverted inclinations, an aspect of detachment etc, but is in no way the destination or end of it, in the sense that as you become more aware of your sensate reality it makes sense that you'd do things that increase your well being, and being a person who prefers solitude it makes sense you'd adapt your life in such a way as to experience more of it, but simply getting enlightened in order to be a loner to me seems like just a small slice of the picture! 

In the bramah viharas the near-enemy of Equanimity is Indifference so might want to check in on that too