The Reason for Loneliness

The real identity of ātmā is that it is part of Kṛṣṇa’s intermediary potency, taṭasthā-śakti, as Kṛṣṇa proclaims in Bhagavat Gīta 15.7:

mamaivāṁśo jīva-loke

jīva-bhūtaḥ sanātanaḥ 

“The eternal living being is an integral part of Me alone.”

However, because we are under the influence of beginningless ignorance about our own true identity, we identify instead as an integral part of the mind / body complex, as Kṛṣṇa further stated in the very same verse: 

manaḥ-ṣaṣṭhānīndriyāṇi

prakṛti-sthāni karṣati

“He is entangled with the mind and the five cognitive senses, which are rooted in prakṛti, material nature”

In reality, ātmā cannot have a real relationship with the mind-body complex manifested by prakṛti

īśād apetasya viparyayo ‘smṛtiḥ (SB 11.2.37): Ātmā, if forgetful of its source, is confused.

The pure ātmā has a sense of “I” as a subject without object / predicate. To manifest its inherent sense of “I,” it must find a predicate. Those who lack knowledge of Bhagavān find this predicate in prakṛti, which evolves ahaṅkara, just to facilitate this need. Identifying the subject, “I,” with that predicate, gives it a manifest specificity, called asmitā.

The ahaṅkara identity-complex seeks further specificity and deeper integration with the whole of prakṛti. Without it, we experience deep loneliness, with concomitant emotions of fear, vulnerability, and worthlessness. 

To deal with this, ahaṅkara identifies with broader products of prakṛti, such as families, teams, and nations. This gives it a sense of pride, abhimāna. This pride is not negative. It gives self-respect and self-worth. It is only negative if it becomes abnormal or exaggerated.

The self alone is purely a subject, “I.” With the asmitā of ahaṅkara it acquires a bridge to specificity, “I am something.” With the abhimāna of ahaṅkara it finally acquires the specificity of a predicate, “I am this.”

Abhimāna is typically endowed with specificities such as: 

  1. gender: “I am a woman.”
  2. age: “I am 30 years old”
  3. location: “I am Indian”
  4. quality: “I am tall”
  5. emotion: “I am calm”
  6. activity: “I am a nurse”
  7. possessions: “I am rich”
  8. subtle possessions: “I know many languages”
  9. relationships: “I am John’s wife”
  10. social status: “I am a brāhmaṇa”
  11. religious status: “I am a sannyāsī”

In these various ways, the ātmā’s inherent sense of “I” tries to link itself with some specific products, characteristics, or actions in prakṛti. However, it is impossible to truly form such relationships. As Bṛhad Āranyaka Upaniṣad (4.3.12) says, ātmā cannot really touch or be touched by such things (asaṅgo hi ayam purusaḥ).

Even if it were possible for ātmā to truly link with prakṛti, it would not be a sustainable link, because prakṛti constantly fluctuates. Thus, whatever the ātmā can identify with soon disappears or changes, generating frustration. Furthermore, it is not really possible for the conscious self to be truly happy by contact with unconscious things. Unconscious objects do not contain inherently happiness.

So, although the ātmā experiences a sense of fulfillment by manifesting itself with specificity, that specificity is derived from objects foreign to its very nature, and therefore impermanent and unsatisfying. This brings ātmā back to an unfulfilled state, with a lonesome sense of “I,” unable to manifest satisfactorily in relation to the world.

We usually combat this loneliness by trying to ignore it. As long as the mind is occupied, we will not have time to notice how lonely we are. However, when there is a lull, and we are not busy, feelings of emptiness and loneliness creep in on us.

Without being introduced to spiritual knowledge, we never suspect that the entire notion of establishing our identity in relation to prakṛti is flawed. Instead we merely suspect that the specifics of our abhimāna are at fault. So we blame our parents, friends, spouse, and so on, for our lack of fulfillment.

We rely on interpersonal relationships to combat our inherent loneliness, because such relationships are the closest thing to spiritual union we can find. But, as the nature of prakṛti is to fluctuate, we always lose contact with our dear ones, or the relationships develop flaws and turn sour.

Of all interpersonal relationships, we have the most hope in sexual relations, which grants the sense of unity between conscious beings more fully than anything else we know of. But again, like all things in prakṛti, this unity and its fulfillment is either fleeting or disappointing.

In fact, it is impossible that anyone can bring anyone else true and lasting fulfillment. The reason is that both partners are lonely. Two beggars don’t become rich by combining their resources. Similarly, two unfulfilled persons cannot become complete by being together. Thus, even the closest of romantic couples often feel lonely and unfulfilled. To avoid breaking up with one another, they keep distracted from the persisting loneliness by going to bars, beaches, movies, concerts, and so on.

Krishna and ArjunaLoneliness cannot be averted until the ātmā recognizes its flaw in trying to manifest in relation to prakṛti. If it gains information about Kṛṣṇa, it can finally attain a truly fulfilling manifestation of “I” in relation to Him. There is no alternative to this. Therefore, in His ultimate instruction to Arjuna, Kṛṣṇa recommends to be united with Him in love:

sarva-guhyatamaṁ bhūyaḥ śṛṇu me paramaṁ vacaḥ
iṣṭo ‘si me dṛḍham iti tato vakṣyāmi te hitam

man-manā bhava mad-bhakto mad-yājī māṁ namaskuru
mām evaiṣyasi satyaṁ te pratijāne priyo ‘si me

“Hear again My supreme word, the topmost secret of all. Because you are extremely dear to Me, I shall tell you what is beneficial for you. Fix your mind on Me, become My devotee, worship Me, and bow down to Me. By doing so, you will come to Me. This I truly promise you, because you are dear to Me.” (Gītā 18.64 and 65.)

In reality, the ātmā is always linked to Paramātmā. As Śrī Kṛṣṇa says, “I am situated in the hearts of all beings.” (Gītā 15.15). Loneliness is therefore an illusion, born out of beginningless unawareness of Kṛṣṇa.

 

Notify me of new articles

Comments ( 13 )
  1. Parikshit

    Thanks Babaji. _/\_

  2. Stoka Krsna Das

    As always, once again a superb article Babaji Maharaj.

    Are all the Bhakti angas stated by Sri Rupa in BRS, a means of forming a link with the Param Atma Sri Krishna. If so then I think the devotees should never ever feel lonely/depressed.

  3. Bhushan

    Babaji, thanks for the excellent well-written article. This article reminded me of a few verses from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and would like to know your opinion on the same.

    To begin with, I accept the solution offered by Shri Krishna, but the Yoga-Sutra, I think, provides a different solution. For YS translation, I am referring to Prof. Edwin Bryant’s (Rutgers Univ.) translation and commentary.

    1.3 tadā draṣṭuh svarūpe ‘vasthānam
    When that is accomplished, the seer abides in its own true nature.

    This sutra recommends own nature (“being alone”) as the solution and not the problem. Shri Vijnanabhikshu points out:

    “Once freed from its association with the states of the mind, the soul can abide in its own nature, the highest state of pure consciousness, asamprajñāta-samādhi. It is devoid even of knowledge, says Vijñānabhikṣu, since knowledge implies an object of knowledge and thus requires a connection with the states of mind and the external world.”

    You write that “To manifest its inherent sense of “I,” it must find a predicate.”, while the YS claims that no such predicate is necessary.

    More from the commentators:
    “In fact, Vyāsa and the commentators make the point that the soul has always abided in its own nature, even though, when it is absorbed in the outgoing mind and the world of thoughts and sense objects, it appears not to be. The nature of the soul is pure consciousness, just as, says Śaṅkara, the nature of the sun is and has always been to shine. It needs no external instrument to shine, nor does it exert any effort to do so; indeed, it has no alternative but to shine.”

    There seems to be some merit to this argument because if the nature of the atman is to just be conscious, it does not require any external object/predicate to be fulfilled, just like a crystal (or piece of glass) can exist without any light source.

    “To manifest its inherent sense of “I,” it must find a predicate.”
    Can’t the inherent sense of “I” exist without an object/predicate as indicated by the YS? I personally like/prefer Shri Krishna’s instruction on this matter, but YS does seem to give another solution.

    • Babaji Post author

      YS is fine as long as you do not know Vedanta. Vedanta treats YS as a purva-paksha. We do not agree to everything in YS. From the Bhagavata (which is the explanation of Vedanta Sutra) realizing your svarupa, nada drashtu svarupe avasthanam, is not possible without Bhakti.

  4. Bhushan

    Thanks for your comment, but YS is inspired by Sankhya, which seems to be accepted by Bhagavatam. I found a verse in the Bhagavat Purana where Shri Krishna is teaching Sankhya to Uddhava. SB 11.24.2, I don’t know sanskrit, therefore using BBT translation:
    āsīj jñānam atho artha
    ekam evāvikalpitam
    yadā viveka-nipuṇā
    ādau kṛta-yuge ’yuge

    “Originally, during the Kṛta-yuga, when all men were very expert in spiritual discrimination, and also previous to that, during the period of annihilation, the seer existed alone, nondifferent from the seen object.”

    The verse seems to indicate that seer (atman) was “alone” for most people in krita-yuga? And if this is Satya yuga, isn’t atman being alone sattva guna, because Krita-Yuga sattva is dominant?

    • Babaji Post author

      > Thanks for your comment, but YS is inspired by Sankhya, which seems to be accepted by Bhagavatam.

      There are two schools of Sankhya, classical Sankhya and Bhagavata Sankhya. It is classical Sankhya that is refuted in Vedanta Sutra.

      > The verse seems to indicate that seer (atman) was “alone” for most people in krita-yuga? And if this is Satya yuga, isn’t atman being alone sattva guna,
      > because Krita-Yuga sattva is dominant?

      Is the word atman mentioned in the verse or translation or is it your understanding? Can you also read the following verse and see if this understanding fits with it? The verse uses the words ekam jnana (lit., one consciousness) and viveka-nipuna. The first one is singular and the second is plural. How would you match these two if you take the meaning of the word jnanam as atman, meaning an individual living being? So who is alone, ekam jnanam or the viveka-nipuanas? Can you even try to make sense of the translation you have cited – “all men were very expert in spiritual discrimination … and the seer existed alone”. So the men were not seers? There was only one seer?

      Please understand a verse in its context. See what is said before and after.

      Both Jiva Gosvami and Sri Vishvanatha Cakravarti comment that the word jnana in this verse means Bhagavan.
      The jiva is part of Paramatma. Can the part be without the whole?

  5. Stoka Krsna Das

    Very profound and deep reply Babaji.

    By just elaborating on two words, you have shown the verse in its factual light. Just a little shift of the crystal and the factual paradigm emerges.

    Thanks -^-

  6. Bhushan

    Babaji,

    Thanks for your comment. I don’t know Sanskrit and yes I cannot see this word in the verse, but since the translation mentioned “seer”, I assumed that means atman.

    I did not consider the very relevant points you mentioned, assuming the translation was correct I did not even make a slight attempt to read the Sanskrit. Because the Bhagvatam cannot encourage Advaita Vedanta, I interpreted the English as per Yoga Sutra : everyone was free of identification with prakrati due to spiritual discrimination and saw the one spiritual reality in everything. Yes, the second verse talks about jivas and matter being part of Shri Krishna, but I failed to consider that.

    But thank you for supplying the meaning of the word jnana as per Shri Jiva Goswami and Shri Vishwanatha Chakravartin. I accept Acharyas conclusion that jiva is part of Paramatma. However, I still have a doubt and I would be very grateful if you could address it:

    I had assumed that a jiva can simply remain forever (eternally) in the mode of pure goodness without realizing its relation with Shri Krishna, (neither Bramha-sayujya nor Bhakti). Your article clearly says no: because atman needs to manifest its inherent sense of “I”. The jiva is part of Paramatma, so ultimately it can never be happy without realizing its relationship with Shri Krishna. But then how do we understand that sattva guna is characterized by freedom from material distress, satisfaction, and knowledge? It is satisfied and free from distress so why would it want/desire to search for predicate/object?

    Your answer has shaken my faith in popular translations and my capacity to understand scriptures by casually reading them.

    • Babaji Post author

      > I had assumed that a jiva can simply remain forever (eternally) in the mode of pure goodness without realizing its relation with Shri Krishna, (neither
      > Bramha-sayujya nor Bhakti).

      Do you have shastric reference for it? By “mode of pure goodness” do you mean sattva guna? If yes then such a thing is not possible. The gunas are always mixed with each other. See BG 18.40 and 14.10. Moreover, sattva also binds, see BG 18.6. No one can become free from the gunas without Bhakti, see 7.14.

      > Your article clearly says no: because atman needs to manifest its inherent sense of “I”. The jiva is part of Paramatma, so ultimately it can never be happy
      > without realizing its relationship with Shri Krishna. But then how do we understand that sattva guna is characterized by freedom from material distress,
      > satisfaction, and knowledge? It is satisfied and free from distress so why would it want/desire to search for predicate/object?

      Where is it said? As mentioned above, sattva itself is a bondage, and no guna is stable. Prakriti is always in flux.

  7. Bhushan

    Babaji,

    Grateful for correcting my understanding.
    “Do you have shastric reference for it?”
    No, and even if I knew some verse, I wouldn’t quote it as I am not sure of my understanding and the translations. But it has been my experience (and perhaps of others as well) that a sattvic lifestyle characterized by calm and composed mind gives a sense of freedom (not pulled by urges/desires). I simply extrapolated it to a limiting condition where the mind is perfectly in a calm state without interruption (zero rajas and tamas that can disturb the mind).
    I read your article on sattva and watched the video (http://www.jiva.org/vishuddha-sattva-is-not-of-this-world/) which hits the nail on the head and addresses my misunderstanding.

    Thank you for writing these articles!

  8. Bhushan

    Babaji,

    May I take an opportunity to clarify another doubt regarding sattva guna since the comments are closed for that article. As you pointed out gunas are always in flux and are always in flux and Bhakti is transcendental. I am currently reading your (and Bruce Martin’s) translation of Bhakti Sandarbha. Shri Jiva Gosvami discusses Smaranam in Vol 3. The progression is from general smaranam to samadhi (dharana, dhyana, dhruvana-smriti and samadhi).

    Is it correct to say that these smaranam stages do not result due to increasing sattva guna in the mind, but rather due to bhakti itself (bhakti generates bhakti), because bhakti is transcendental and material sattva guna cannot generate something transcendental? Shri Chaitanya said that chanting should be done in humility (trinad api verse), so I gather that the state of mind He recommended while chanting cannot be classified as sattva guna. It is bhakti, but which anga of bhakti (atmanivedana?)

    • Babaji Post author

      > Is it correct to say that these smaranam stages do not result due to increasing sattva guna in the mind, but rather due to bhakti itself (bhakti generates bhakti), because bhakti is transcendental and material sattva guna cannot generate something transcendental?

      Yes, they do not result due to increase in sattva, but an increase in sattva can be caused by chanting.

      > Shri Chaitanya said that chanting should be done in humility (trinad api verse), so I gather that the state of mind He recommended while chanting cannot be classified as sattva guna. It is bhakti, but which anga of bhakti (atmanivedana?).

      It is not an anga of Bhakti, but a qualification of the devotee.

Post comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Satyanarayana Dasa

    Satyanarayana Dasa
  • Subscribe

  • Videos with Babaji

  • Payment

  • Article Archive

  • Chronological Archive

  • Translate this Website

    Homepage Übersetzung

© 2017 JIVA.ORG. All rights reserved.