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Nathan
02 Dec 11, 20:16
Hello,

I'm seeking advice on how to cope with the loneliness of the mind. Thoughts and feelings are my own and nobody else's, but in being alone in observing my mind, I get almost a sense of hopelessness towards the future. Their are people in my life to talk to, but I will always be alone in observing my mind (just me, alone in the emptiness of the mind). I'm having trouble accepting this, as the emptiness of the mind seems so lonely. My self used to be my best friend, with delusions of the mind keeping me from feeling lonely. Awareness of just how empty and lonely the mind is has brought me much distress.

Thanks,
Nathan

daverupa
02 Dec 11, 20:39
...I will always be alone in observing my mind (just me, alone in the emptiness of the mind).

So, this Self that's all alone in there - it'll be alone forever, will it? Unchanging, sitting there alone, for eternity?

Esho
02 Dec 11, 21:01
Hello Nathan,

Have you gotten that experience through meditation? If so, what kind of meditation are you practicing?

Or those are just thoughts around more thoughts about loneliness, mind, self and the like?

Thoughts arise when mind "makes contact" with an idea. Thoughts arise and fade one after another endlessly and there is no real way to own them.

;D

Nathan
02 Dec 11, 21:17
So, this Self that's all alone in there - it'll be alone forever, will it? Unchanging, sitting there alone, for eternity?

So long as I'm conscious, my mind will be observable. It's the loneliness in experiencing these observations that depresses me. It makes such observations seem pointless, which ultimately makes effort seem pointless (since consciousness doesn't seem worth it). The mutability and ever-changing nature of things just makes it seem that much more pointless.

Nathan
02 Dec 11, 21:33
Have you gotten that experience through meditation? If so, what kind of meditation are you practicing?
Meditation helps to clear the thoughts about how lonely the mind is, though the feelings and thoughts of loneliness inevitably return.


Or those are just thoughts around more thoughts about loneliness, mind, self and the like
My new baseline seems to be an empty mind, and it is from this emptiness that feelings of loneliness seem to arise.



Thoughts arise and fade one after another endlessly and there is no real way to own them.
Yes perhaps I did not word that correctly; what I meant was to acknowledge that nobody else is responsible for my thoughts but me. Thoughts arise and fade, however I'm finding consistent thoughts of distress (loneliness) arising and fading.

andyrobyn
02 Dec 11, 21:44
Hi Nathan , I have also had a similar experience and found experiencing such thoughts very unpleasant.
You have not mentioned if anything has occured in your life recently which would have influence on your thoughts and thinking.
Do you have any other signs of a depressive illness?
Common ones are disturbed sleep, appetite and weight changes, changes in concentration, energy levels and motivation?
These may indicate depression and if you do I would recommend seeing a medical professional, a good local doctor if you have one.

srivijaya
02 Dec 11, 21:48
I'm finding consistent thoughts of distress (loneliness) arising and fading.

Hi Nathan,
Those thoughts are not 'yours', you don't own them. They will fall away in time to reveal a clarity beyond them. It's your ego's way of trying to stop what it perceives to be its own annihilation. Observe 'who' or what is having those thoughts.
:hands:

Esho
02 Dec 11, 21:52
Nathan, the advice given by Andyrobin is a good one.

Solitude and a quiet mind -if not empty yet- has been a source of joy and a very liberating experience.

To know that "I" don't own "my" thoughts, and the idea of an empty mind, are by no means disturbing.

Far from that it is very liberating and joyful.

So I honestly think about counseling someone skillful in meditation or about depression.

;)

Nathan
02 Dec 11, 22:00
Do you have any other signs of a depressive illness?
I spent most of my life severely depressed, starting at a young age. I never saw a professional, however I am nowhere near as depressed as I used to be. I feel as though I've consciously overcome depression, in that I have the ability to recognize and overcome depressing thoughts as they arise. I just cannot keep them from arising. A doctor or professional is not an option, which I why I turned to meditation so many years ago, and much more recently to the teachings of the Buddha.

andyrobyn
02 Dec 11, 22:01
Have you been meditating long Nathan?
My experience is that I was an anxious young person and never spoke to others about a free floating sense of anxiety that I had - I used this to drive myself and it served me well to achieve outward success - high grades at school, social connections etc.
I always sort of felt like a fake, as I knew somehow this wasn't what it was all about and if people saw the real anxious me which I perceived was unacceptable and flawed it would all fall apart - and even as a young child I sensed it somehow needed to yet didn't know quite how.
A drug induced experience in my teens precipitated my first full blown panic attack and an even stronger sense that the " I " concept I was living by was restricting me.

Esho
02 Dec 11, 22:02
I spent most of my life severely depressed, starting at a young age.

I am not an expert here but some times depressive disorders have an organic or biologic basis that needs medical care in addition to meditation.

Nathan
02 Dec 11, 22:06
andyrobyn,

I have been meditating since around age 9 or 10, so it's been almost a decade and a half.

I am aware of the common illusion of a "self as defined by others." I overcame much anxiety in realizing that who I am is not defined by how I'm perceived by others. It seems like you and I have had similar experiences in that regard.

andyrobyn
02 Dec 11, 22:13
I was a people pleaser way into my 20's, I am 47 years old now, I admire how much you have achieved thus far.

Aloka
02 Dec 11, 23:14
This might be helpful Nathan. Its from 'A Still Forest Pool' by Ajahn Chah

- 'Part 1 Studying and Experiencing'.....





"In our practice, our tendency is to grasp, to take experiences as me and mine. If you think, '1 am calm, I am agitated, I am good or bad, I am happy or unhappy," this clinging causes more becoming and birth. When happiness ends, suffering appears; when suffering ends, happiness appears.

You will see yourself unceasingly vacillating between heaven and hell. The Buddha saw that the condition of his mind was thus, and he knew, because of this birth and becoming, his liberation was not yet complete. So he took up these elements of experience and contemplated their true nature. Because of grasping, birth and death exist. Becoming glad is birth; becoming dejected is death. Having died, we are then born; having been born, we die. This birth and death from one moment to the next is like the endless spinning of a wheel.

The Buddha saw that whatever the mind gives rise to are just transitory, conditioned phenomena, which are really empty. When this dawned on him, he let go, gave up, and found an end to suffering. You too must understand these matters according to the truth. When you know things as they are, you will see that these elements of mind are a deception, in keeping with the Buddha's teaching that this mind has nothing, does not arise, is not born, and does not die with anyone. It is free, shining, resplendent, with nothing to occupy it.

The mind becomes occupied only because it misunderstands and is deluded by these conditioned phenomena, this false sense of self.

Therefore, the Buddha had us look at our minds. What exists in the beginning? Truly, not anything. This emptiness does not arise and die with phenomena. When it contacts something good, it does not become good; when it contacts something bad, it does not become bad. The pure mind knows these objects clearly, knows that they are not substantial.

When the mind Of the meditator abides like this, no doubt exists. Is there becoming? Is there birth? We need not ask anyone. Having examined the elements of mind, the Buddha let them go and became merely one who was aware of them. He just watched with equanimity. Conditions leading to birth did not exist for him. With his complete knowledge, he called them all impermanent, unsatisfactory, empty of self. Therefore, he became the one who knows with certainty. The one who knows sees according to this truth and does not become happy or sad according to changing conditions.

This is true peace, free of birth, aging, sickness, and death, not dependent on causes, results, or conditions, beyond happiness and suffering, above good and evil. Nothing can be spoken about it. No conditions promote it any longer.

Therefore, develop samadhi, calm and insight; learn to make them arise in your mind and really use them. Otherwise, you will know only the words of Buddhism and with the best intentions, go around merely describing the characteristics of existence.

You may be clever, but when things arise in your mind, will you follow them? When you come into contact with something you like, will you immediately become attached? Can you let go of it? When unpleasant experiences arise, does the one who knows hold that dislike in his mind, or does he let go? If you see things that you dislike and still hold on to or condemn them, you should reconsider-this is not yet correct, not yet the supreme. If you observe your mind in this way, you will truly know for yourself.

http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books2/Ajahn_Chah_A_Still_Forest_Pool.htm#Understanding the Buddhas Teachings




.

Pegembara
03 Dec 11, 08:00
Hello,

I'm seeking advice on how to cope with the loneliness of the mind. Thoughts and feelings are my own and nobody else's, but in being alone in observing my mind, I get almost a sense of hopelessness towards the future. Their are people in my life to talk to, but I will always be alone in observing my mind (just me, alone in the emptiness of the mind). I'm having trouble accepting this, as the emptiness of the mind seems so lonely. My self used to be my best friend, with delusions of the mind keeping me from feeling lonely. Awareness of just how empty and lonely the mind is has brought me much distress.

Thanks,
Nathan

Hi Nathan,

Understand that the Buddha advised that nothing whatsoever is to be taken personally. Thoughts, feelings of loneliness or hopelessness are not yours. They arise from prior conditions and will cease when the conditions change. If you have to cling to "some thing" just be the awareness. This emptiness and loneliness is just a condition of the mind unlike the awareness which remains unaffected. This awareness is your refuge.


Quote:

To see our own mind clearly,

Without being caught up in its movement,

To watch thought without trying to do anything with or about it,

Simply seeing it and letting go of it,

This is the way to free from dukkha.



Luangpor Teean

andyrobyn
03 Dec 11, 08:23
Yes, taking nothing personally is a factor in the practice of equanimity - my teacher describes equanimity as a mind which is abundant, immeasurable, and without ill-will.

It is not coolness, indifference, aloofness. It does not involve the suppression of feelings, a sense of apathy or inexpressiveness.

Equanimity allows us to accept, be present and aware to our experience without our mind or heart resisting or needing to contract. In this state we are able to separate people from their actions; we can be free to agree or disagree while being in balance with them. We take nothing personally.

I have probably mentioned this quote from Albert Einstein on equanimity here before - " Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions."

Aloka
03 Dec 11, 08:39
In general, just a little reminder here that this is the Buddhism for Beginners forum, so therefore we should try to keep any advice for newcomers to Buddhism on topic for them, and as uncomplicated as possible.

Beginners in the past have expressed confusion about the topics in this section expanding into discussion of extended subject material and debating between other members.


Thanks

Deshy
03 Dec 11, 14:55
I am not an expert here but some times depressive disorders have an organic or biologic basis that needs medical care in addition to meditation.

Yes, imo this is correct. In some severe cases, medical care is recommended before you even try meditation.

rlp7786
03 Dec 11, 16:18
Hello Nathan,

I am sorry that you are suffering from depression and a feeling of loneliness. I would like to tell you that you are not alone, and explain why. The emptiness you experience is there, but it is the same in everyone. It is an objective and universal truth. But, what is it that is disturbed by this emptiness? Your consciousness correct? It is your conscious experience of emptiness that is giving you this feeling of emptiness and loneliness. Perhaps you are in your mind, treating emptiness in a way that is too nihilistic? Ive done this in the past myself. I have found a particular visualization of emptiness has helped me along with a redefinition of what emptiness means. This is not in conflict with Buddhism, what I am about to say.

When I think of emptiness, I think of emptiness being that realization that everything is devoid of a static self. The word "static" here, is important. It means not changing, not moving, eternal and existing purely in and of itself, by itself. This is the true definition of being alone! In order to be alone, it must exist in the way Ive defined it.

This is not what Buddha taught. The Buddha taught that no-thing ever exists by itself, totally removed from the other aspects of existence. Instead, everything is like a net or a spiderweb, in which each thread serves as a connection for one of the points (which are actually converging threads meeting). In that way, not only are all phenomena connected, but so too, are all beings. Now, beings are made up of non-permanent pieces which you will know as skhanda's. They change from moment to moment, never static, never alone, playing off of each other and yet, the way in which they do so gives rise to the feeling or perception of a static (alone) self, through the constant arising of the fifth skhanda, consciousness.

Now, we don't want to get rid of consciousness, as consciousness is what allows us to know things. Even nirvana can't be known without consciousness OF nirvana. Rather, we want to purify our consciousness and develop our insight so that what we come to know are the right things (right view).

emptiness, being defined as empty of a permanence, rather than empty in our normal sense of pointless, is an important view, so that one doesn't slip into the wrong views of annihilationism or eternalism.

While your conventional self (your skhandas) may be empty of a permanent, unchanging self such as a soul, it is a constantly flowing and changing (read: Evolving) group of things that make you (in the conventional sense) you! And in that, as a being made up of "things" you are never alone! Every being is the same as you!

I like to visualize nirvana (the ultimate not-self, emptiness, void.) as being like a giant calm ocean/space of awareness (distinguished from consciousness) that extends out in all directions forever. like the universe, no beginning and no end can be seen. And I like to see samsara, and thoughts, as little fish, coming and going, and coming again, and going out again, never sitting still, always evolving, always living and dieing, and being reborn. They move in the water, but they aren't the water.

I should clarify one thing. With the above analogy, one could object that I am calling the water/nirvana a permanent reality and thus a self, but no, I'm not. Nirvana too is not a permanent self, because it is empty of all the things that we call a self. (The skhandas) It is more of a permanent state (but not self) that underlies all Samsaric phenomena

So, Nathan, "You" as in your Samsaric self, are never alone. You are in the same boat as us all. "You" are always changing, and coming and going. But you are you, the being, nonetheless. And so is everyone around you. Just because nothing that makes up what we call "self", is unchanging, doesn't mean we don't exist in any way, we just aren't static.We are a product of, and dependent on everything and everyone around us for our own "personal" existance. In that knowledge, how can you ever be alone? Hug someone you care about! know that they are there. Not in the sense that we normally perceive it, but they are there nonetheless!

Ive noticed that often times we tend to start I-dentifying with our concept of emptiness or nirvana or whatever you want to call it, and the very act of I-dentifying, rather than putting aside concept of self and other altogether, makes us feel alone. This happens because for "me" to exist, means there has to be an "other" And if there is an "other", there can only be one "me"! And that makes me feel isolated, and alone. So to, if we make the mistake of I-dentifying with emptiness or nothingness, we feel alone, because then we are in opposition to the other, namely fullness and thingness. And we feel as though we dont exist in any way, and lose touch with reality.

Ive rambled enough and hope that this has been of some value to you and others on this board, and not a waste of your time. If it were, I apologize. Either way, feel better. :hands:


Sincerely,
A fellow being

rlp7786
03 Dec 11, 16:29
I would also say that if your mind is so empty of thought that you are lonely because of the lack of thought, that you should go ahead and think. You actually are thinking already. You are thinking, "my mind is empty of thought, this is making me loney!"

So, thinking is not a bad thing, just be mindful of what you think. Feed your consciousness good things and good daydreams, without clinging to them as a permanent self. :)

Fee
05 Dec 11, 08:16
Sorry to hear you are feeling like this Nathan.

It sounds like you have meditated for a long time and that you have come a long way already. I hope that you can get through this difficult time and find comfort in your practice again soon.

Fee

Compassus sum
08 Dec 11, 04:23
Thanks to all for the helpful and thoughtful replies. I truly appreciate it.