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Chapter 8: Silence and Song Meet

The first question:

When I am among people, after a while I want to be alone. When I am alone, after a while I want to be among people. So I cannot enjoy one or the other fully. Should I live on the inside or on the outside?

This is one of the most fundamental questions every human being has to encounter; it is part of the challenge that life presents to us. The mind functions in duality; it is like a pendulum. When the pendulum moves towards the right, you see it moving towards the right, but at the very same time it is gathering momentum to go to the left. When it is moving towards the left it is gathering momentum to go to the right.

This inner duality in the pendulum represents your mind. The mind is a pendulum; hence, when you are alone you cannot enjoy aloneness, you start gathering momentum to be with people, and as you start thinking of people, aloneness turns into loneliness. Aloneness is tremendously beautiful; it is like a sunlit peak, something beyond the clouds. But loneliness is ugly; it is a dark hole. If you cannot enjoy aloneness everything goes upside down: the peak becomes the valley, the light becomes darkness. You are bored, you don’t know what to do with yourself; you feel empty, and you want to stuff yourself with something - either with people or with food or with a movie. These are all different ways not to feel lonely. And when you are with people, the same will happen again from the other end. When you are with people you feel interfered with, trespassed upon, because others start encroaching on your space, they destroy your freedom. So being with others is no longer love; it becomes a bondage. And one hates bondage - one wants to get rid of it as quickly as possible. It is a prison; you start feeling suffocated. Even with the person you think you love, you start feeling fed up. You cannot enjoy love because suddenly you realize that to be alone is beautiful, because now you can see that aloneness is freedom. But when you are alone you see love as joy!

This is the dichotomy of the mind. It exists in every dimension. If you are poor you hanker to be rich; this is a well-known fact. But the other side has not been recognized: everybody knows the beggar wants to be the emperor, but have you not watched Mahavira renouncing his kingdom, Buddha escaping from his marble palaces? What is that? It is the same phenomenon! The poor man wants to be rich, and the rich man wants to be poor. And when Buddha started initiating disciples he called them bhikkhus. The word bhikkhu means beggar.

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