And it was true. In my school days I had no friends. In my college days I was thought to be a stranger. In university, yes, people always respected me, but that is not friendship, what to say of friendliness. It is a strange fate to have always been respected from my very childhood. But if my Nani were alive now she could have seen my friends, my sannyasins. She would see thousands of people with whom I have a synchronicity. But she is dead; Shambhu Babu is dead. The flowering has come at a moment when all those who were really concerned about me are no more.
She was right in saying that I would live a lonely life, but she was wrong too, because just like everybody else, she thought loneliness and aloneness are synonymous; they are not. Not only are they not synonymous, they are poles apart.
Loneliness is a negative state. When you cannot be with yourself and beg the company of the other – then it is loneliness. Whether you get the company or not will not make any difference at all, you will remain lonely. All over the world, in every house, you can see the truth of what I am saying. I cannot say every home, I say every house. A home very rarely exists. A home is where loneliness has been transformed into aloneness, not into togetherness.
People think that if two people are together, then loneliness is finished. It is not so easy. Remember it, it is not so easy; in fact it becomes more difficult. When two lonely people meet loneliness is multiplied, not only doubled, remember; it is a multiplication, and very ugly. It is like an octopus, a continuous fight in different names, for different reason. But if you put all these covers aside, underneath you will see nothing but naked loneliness. It is not aloneness. Aloneness is the discovery of one’s self.
Many times I told my grandmother that being alone is the most beautiful state one can dream of. She would laugh and say, “Shut up! Nonsense. I know what it is – I am living a lonely life. Your Nana is dead. He deceived me: he died without even telling me that he was going to die. He died without even communicating to me where he was going, and to what. He betrayed me.” She was bitter about it. She then told me, “You left me too. You went to university, and you only visit once or twice each year. I wait for months just for the day you will be back home. And those one or two days are over so quickly. You don’t know what loneliness is – I know.”
Although she was crying, I laughed. I wanted to cry with her but could not. Instead of crying, I laughed.
She said, “Look! You don’t understand me at all.”
I said, “I do understand, that’s why I am laughing. Again and again you go on insisting that loneliness and aloneness are one, and I say definitely and absolutely, they are not the same. And you will have to understand aloneness if you want to get rid of your loneliness. You cannot get rid of it just by being sorry for yourself; and don’t be angry with my grandfather.”
This was the only time I defended my Nana against her. “What could he do? He has not betrayed you – although you may feel betrayed, that’s another matter. Death or life are in nobody’s hands. He died as helplessly as he was born…and don’t you remember how helpless he was? He was calling again and again, ‘Stop the wheel, Raja, can’t you stop the wheel?’ In that constant asking us to stop the wheel what was he asking? He was asking for his freedom.