The following is an excerpt from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.
Questioner: Acharya Ji, what is the difference between Loneliness and Aloneness?
Acharya Prashant: Simply put,
Loneliness is when you are not alright with yourself.
Loneliness is when you are just not okay with yourself.
Aloneness is when you are alright with yourself.
When you are not alright with yourself, you will obviously seek an alternative to your company. I’m not okay with myself, so what will I need? I’ll need somebody else to be with. That is the state of the lonely person.
His self is the Ego. And the Ego lives in great contradictions, therefore, great conflict. The Ego does not really like itself. The Ego labels itself as unworthy and incomplete. Therefore, the Ego cannot just be with itself and feel fine. The Ego must necessarily reach out to the world and want a companion. “Can there be somebody to relate to? Can there be somebody to sit with, fill myself up with, form a bond with? Can there be somebody else I can look at? Because if I look at myself, all I see is nonsense. Worse still, if I continue looking at myself, then I see that I’m false and I don’t exist, so I don’t want to look at myself.”
If I am all alone with myself, it becomes a very dangerous situation for me. First of all, I feel uncomfortable, and if the situation continues for long, then the situation threatens my very existence. If I am only with myself, I have nobody else to look at but myself, right? And if I look at myself, then I won’t survive for long, because I am not. I’m false. I am a bundle of mischief. I’m a bundle of illusions. I have no center, I have no reality, I am not rooted in Truth.
Everything about me is just hot air, so I would rather that the eyes look elsewhere. I’ll pick the phone and call somebody up, or I’ll travel to the market, or I’ll look for marriage or a social circle, or a weekend group, or some kind of community. That’s loneliness.
Who is the subject of loneliness? The false ‘I’. The ego.
Loneliness comes to the ego, and only to the ego.
Only the ego remains lonely.