Loneliness and Intimacy Part I

September 26, 2017

What causes loneliness and how does it relate to the desire for waking up? A podcast from Satsang with Shambhavi.


Today I’m gonna talk about loneliness. Most of us think that when we feel lonely, we want to stop feeling lonely, and that’s only partially true. So, how many people here feel some level of loneliness most of the time? Raise your hands. How many people here have loneliness as a regular feature of your life? How many people here feel lonely only now and then? You never feel lonely? Cool. For the record, only one person feels that they never feel lonely. I never feel lonely either. There’s two of us.

But for most of my life, all of my life, until I was deep into my practice, I felt lonely all of the time. And as I’ve described before,  I felt many periods of time where that loneliness was just like this searing pain. The difference, I think, for me was that I understood that there wasn’t anything in my immediate environment that was going to make that loneliness go away. So, I never tried to satisfy that loneliness or get rid of it by hanging out with people, or getting a pet, or something like that. In fact, it seemed to me that the loneliness that I was feeling—there was some other answer to it—and that trying to fix it with these ordinary things that people try to fix loneliness with would only make it worse. That’s how I felt, from a very young age. I just had that instinct.

In this tradition of Kashmir Shaivism, our loneliness comes from the experience that we have of being separate. We are having an experience of being objects in space, basically. And this experience of being objects in space is called anavamala. It means a root sense of separation. In the tradition, anavamala is often translated as our root experience, or our root ignorance. So the most basic ignorance that we have is our conceptual belief, or our embodied concept, that we’re objects in space and that there is something between us and other beings and other things. What erodes that, the only thing that can answer that, really, the only thing that be something other than a temporary bandage, or a temporary amelioration, is to discover our continuity with everything.


Satsang with Shambhavi is a weekly podcast about spirituality, love, death, devotion and waking up while living in a messy world.