The following is an excerpt from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.
Questioner: What is aloneness?
Acharya Prashant: Aloneness is not being free of others and living without others. Aloneness is to live without oneself. Aloneness does not have much to do with the so-called ‘others’, aloneness has everything to do with the one called ‘oneself’. Others appear many, appear outside but are just the projection of the one inside.
You are in a hall, surrounding you from all sides, a hall comprising of a million mirrors. Who is standing in the middle of the hall? You. But the eyes are so enamored by the million images in the million mirrors around you that you feel that you are surrounded by others. Those mirrors, those images are the world. Because they are many and because the mirrors are not very honest so you see multiple, varied, colorful, diverse images. An entire world full of distinctions looks at you and surrounds you from all sides. That world surrounds you from all sides only because you are at the center of that world.
You are the looker and you are the one being looked at. Now, what do you want freedom from? One of the mirrors, one of the images that appear a bit nasty, a bit discomforting, even horrible? And parallelly you remain attracted to, tied to, attached to a few other images that appear appealing and lovely. What do you want? Freedom from one of the mirrors, a few of the mirrors, a few of the images? Is that wise? Is that even possible? Is that your definition of aloneness?
Aloneness is not about gaining freedom from the mirrors; aloneness is about gaining freedom from the one looking back at you through those mirrors. Who is looking back at you through those mirrors? The one called the self. The little self, the one called oneself, the one called me or ‘I’.
‘You’ can never be alone, never. As long as you are there, the entire universe is there; how would aloneness be possible? Aloneness, therefore, is emptiness. Aloneness, therefore, is to be empty of yourself. Whenever you would tie to preserve yourself but get rid of the world, which often is the case, then instead of coming to aloneness you end up feeling lonely. Why? Because the one who has a desperate appetite to be with the world is still there but somehow for some time…