Tuesday, May 19, 2015


Every time I am alone, I concede defeat to myself, kneel in abject misery .. something like this I read and remember still, from decades back in Calcutta. Those days were those of long walks down the chaotic streets of the city, chilling at the ghats by the Bhagirathi river and browsing old books.

 Those days, the only phone we knew of was in the room of the warden, the doc and that apart, you needed an infinite supply of one rupee coins to phone up your beloved from the booth across the street while your chums furiously smoked away your pitiful savings

It has been quite sometime since then. And all this while, I do not remember very  many occasions when I was alone, ensconced comfortably with me. And these days it is increasingly becoming difficult with something or the other that must always be attended to. Immediate, Urgent, Top Priority being merrily bandied about. Things constantly needing attention. Things that are constantly breaking down. Grievances that must be settled. Now!

One begins to long for some solitude. The kind of solitude when one can be at complete peace and harmony with existence. 

Here is one famous poem by Derek Walcott, 
Love after Love 

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

" If you are never alone, you cannot know yourself. And if you do not know yourself, you will begin to fear the void. 

But the void does not exist. A new world lies hidden in our soul, waiting to be discovered. There it is, with all its strength intact, but it is so new and powerful that we are afraid to acknowledge its existence." 

"For those who feel oppressed by solitude, it is important to remember that at life's most significant moments, we are always alone" 

This is what R M Drake says, without mentioning solitude - 

" There is a space inside us. One that no matter how close we get, this space can only be filled by our own laughter and our own sorrow. It is something we cannot depend on other people for. It is something we have to make sense of by ourselves"

Finally, the story of Buddha's enlightenment, in the words of Osho -  

"He had lived through all kinds of extremes: he had lived like an ascetic, tortured himself. For six years he suffered as much as a human being can suffer. He had become just bones, all flesh had disappeared. He looked like he had come out of a grave. 

Then one evening he saw the futility of human effort. He saw the futility of human ego - because all efforts are egoistic: I will attain. The I is behind all your achievements. desires of achievements. 

Ego lives, feeds on success; it cannot live in failure. It deserts you.

That evening the ego disappeared. The full moon rose. For six years he had not noticed the moon at all, he was so preoccupied with his own spiritual attainment. The night was cool and beautiful. The forest was silent, and the river Niranjana flowed by. He enjoyed the reflections of the moon on the river. He enjoyed the silence. Then he fell asleep. 

He slept without any dreams, because all dreams are the by products of desires. In the morning when it was dawn and the birds started singing he awoke. Lying under the tree, nowhere to go, nothing to do, he watched the sun rise over the horizon; the east becoming red and a beautiful morning and the cool breeze .. And something happened, something clicked. 

Not out of six years' constant striving of the ego, but only one night's state of no ego, no desire. 

Six years before he had dropped the kingdom and all material possessions. He had carried only one longing - for the truth. That night he gave up the last desire. The whole night he slept in a dreamless sleep. That created the opportunity. As he opened his eyes - for the first time without any desire - the last star was setting, and with the last star setting, he suddenly became aware, so full of awareness .... the sun rose outside and the sun also rose inside."

A beautiful story, isn't it? Imagine the power of solitude and a moondrenched night in the forest. One happy solitude that enabled the Buddha, elevated him to enlightenment.  


  1. I love this post about solitude. In our modern world we have accepted busyness, noise, and endless obligations as the norm. Taking the time to be by ourselves and to quietly reflect is considered "strange". How sad! This post captures the essence of the beauty of solitude. Thanks!

  2. I cherish my solitude. Therein resides my peacefulness. Of late, others have been disturbing it, so soon I must fly away, hopefully to that wilder shore that never stops calling me.

    1. Sit. Exhale. Open your eyes and listen to the wind

  3. I have realized how alien you are to me... With all my obsessions, I have grown so distant from the people who are my own. Maybe, just maybe... Ur nephew has learnt of the futility of shallow desires. Perhaps one day, I will get to know you better.