Q: I have a situation. I have been with my partner for about ten years, and she is a very loving person. She is away at night quite a bit at her job, and I’m alone in the apartment. Now, I don’t feel good alone in the apartment. I feel alright, but kind of empty. When I hear the front door go and she is in, I feel “Ahh.” I can be reading a book and she comes home, and I feel, “Ahh, that’s great.”
Now what I am asking myself is, “Why am I so dependent on someone else? Why can’t I feel wonderful sitting here reading a book in comfort?”
And something happened this week. I heard the front door and I have the thought “She is home! I feel complete now.” But she didn’t come in and, after a while, I went out looking for her. She hadn’t come home. The guy next door banged his door.
[laughter from the attendees]
I thought she was there and, “Oh, I feel so good. I feel so good.” But she’s not even there. Can you cast any light on this? I seem very dependent.
A: It casts its own light. You said it all. That is a whole Zen story, right there.
…It means you haven’t faced your aloneness. The aloneness that is everyone—you, her, him, her, everyone. One’s aloneness has to be faced. I am not talking about loneliness. I am talking about aloneness. The fact that you are alone. No matter how many people are there. The fact that everyone comes into this life, lives this life, and leaves this life alone. So before death comes (and it is getting closer), you have to face your aloneness. Because if you do not face it now, you will have to face it then. And it is much harder. Much harder. Face it now, before the physical death. It has to be truly dealt with. Truly faced. Truly met. Truly experienced. Not pushed away, not run from. And that’s what most of us do most of the time. That’s what almost everything is for—television, books, movies, Coca-Cola, everything. You can run away. You can run away with anything. You can run away with your own thoughts. Most of us do. We fill our head—there’s a constant dialogue going on, that’s all to not face the aloneness. The aloneness is the unknown.
It’s true. The aloneness is the unknown. That’s why we don’t want to face it. That’s why every fiber goes into terror when we consider really facing it. Because it’s falling more into the unknown. And it’s, at least for that moment, giving up all the illusions of safety, all the illusions of control, all the illusions that we can hide somewhere and avoid whatever it is we want to avoid.
There’s nowhere to hide. This universe doesn’t give you anywhere to hide, it just seems that way. You convince yourself that it does, but it doesn’t. And when you’re trying to hide, everybody sees it but you.
I don’t know why, but tonight I’m only the deliverer of bad news. Face the aloneness.