He is pointing out that loneliness plays a couple of functions in life, serving as a warning and as a respite.
Eckhart Tolle, the author of the renowned book, The Power of Now, has spoken on the phenomenon of loneliness, offering this informative perspective on why loneliness is so pervasive today.
There have never been more lonely people than now. Loneliness perhaps is a relatively recent phenomenon for humanity. In the past, one’s identity was very tribal, and if you were expelled from the tribe you would die. Not just physical, psychologically you would die.
And then later on when there were not tribes and more, but social groups, those lonely outsiders very often were those through whom breakthroughs came into this world because they were forced to go deeper. Those who didn’t fit in for one reason or other, those who felt so lonely they were forced deeper into the vertical dimension, rather than seeking some kind of solution on the horizontal dimension, more relationships or whatever. So there’s the great opportunity in loneliness.
And through acceptance, one can say loneliness transforms into solitude. Solitude means being alone, and it’s quite beautiful being alone. ~Eckhart Tolle
Jamaican born spiritual leader Mooji asks the important question, ‘Can You Be Alone?‘ To understand and shift your relationship with loneliness he encourages you to first try to be completely alone, to fully feel what it is that is happening within your own soul.
Forget about trying to be one with anything. First, come to be completely alone. Go the opposite way, be completely alone. Don’t look for any support from anything for one moment. For one moment, see how you are only by yourself. Don’t associate with anything at all. Come to this place to be completely alone and see if you’re in a crippling position. Come to this place first. ~Mooji
Thich Nhat Hanh
Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh, also the author of many books including You Are Here: Discovering the Magic of the Present Moment, gives us perhaps the most thorough assessment of the roots of loneliness. He discusses the idea that we must come home to ourselves to find peace and happiness.
Once we are home, we no longer feel lonely. Home is a place where loneliness is happiness. But where is home? It is within the self, it is an island, a place inside ourselves where we must return to in order to be happy. Many of us have forgotten how to take this place with us in our day to day lives, and as such we drift further away with each communication. ~Thich Nhat Hanh
Furthermore, he offers an explanation as to why technological connection and being part of a group does not always alleviate the sense of loneliness. We are disconnected from ourselves
Loneliness is the ill-being of our time. We feel very lonely. Even if we are surrounded by many people. We are lonely together. And there is a vacuum inside of us and we do not feel comfortable with that kind of vacuum, so we try to fill it up by connecting with other people. We believe that when we connect with other people that feeling of loneliness will disappear. And technology supplies us with a lot of devices in order to connect. Stay connected. We always stay connected but we continue to feel lonely.
We use technology to try and dissipate that feeling of loneliness but we have not succeeded.
In our daily life, we are disconnected from ourselves. We walk, but we do not know that we are walking. We are there, but we do not know that we are there. We are alive, but we do not know that we are alive. We are losing ourselves, we are not ourselves.
How can you connect with another person when you cannot connect with yourself? ~Thich Nhat Hanh
Author and speaker Deepak Chopra have also shared his insight on this, pointing towards healing. He once wrote:
Healing loneliness requires more than simply seeking out the company. As you’ve probably experienced, you can feel lonely in the middle of a crowd, at a holiday party or with a group of caring friends. The root of loneliness isn’t the absence of other people but an inner absence — you don’t have a centered awareness of your true self.