An uncommon way to beat loneliness

Acharya Prashant
6 min readAug 15, 2021

Following is an excerpt from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.

Questioner (Q): The question that I have for today from the reading is that it appears when one is trying to escape loneliness, reading from some spiritual books, or practicing some meditational techniques, it is also not considered the right thing to do. Could you shed some light on it?

Acharya Prashant (AP): When the intention is to somehow escape from loneliness rather than go to the root of loneliness, rather than come face-to-face with loneliness, anything that one does is just not honest. Honesty doesn’t lie in turning one’s face away from the facts of one’s life. That is obvious. And suppose the fact of one’s life is loneliness. In that case, one has to figure out what loneliness is.

One has to look squarely into the eyes of loneliness. One has to strike a conversation. Instead, if one finds an alternative, then the alternative would remain a valueless one even if it is a so-called holy alternative. Please remember that real holiness lies only in basic honesty. So if from a center of dishonesty, one is turning towards holy books, then the books remain holy; however, one’s approach and attitude to the books don’t remain holy.

How will it benefit you if you touch a holy book in an unholy way? When you escape from your loneliness instead of confronting and digging deep into it, coming to the truth of it, then the approach itself is unholy. An unholy approach turns even a holy book useless. Remember Shakespeare? — “the devil can cite scripture for purpose.” (quoting from Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice).

Now the devil can not really turn the scripture unholy. But the purpose for which the devil would touch the scripture would not be pious. Kindly don’t try to categorize activities per se into holy or unholy. We have a strong tendency to do that because that is so easy and doesn’t require any inner work or discrimination. So we find a lazy categorization very easy and compelling.

We want to say. What are holy deeds? Reading this, this! (gesturing with his hands), going to a temple, doing such an act, performing charity, helping somebody, and meditating. So this is the list of holy acts. Done, finished. What are unholy acts? Another list of ten things that…

Acharya Prashant