It is good to be alone. To be far away from the world and yet walk its streets is to be alone. To be alone walking up the path beside the rushing, noisy mountain stream full of spring water and melting snows is to be aware of that solitary tree, alone in its beauty. The loneliness of a man in the street is the pain of life; he’s never alone, far away, untouched and vulnerable. To be full of knowledge breeds endless misery. The demand for expression, with its frustrations and pains, is that man who walks the streets; he is never alone. Sorrow is the movement of that loneliness.
That mountain stream was full and high with the melting snows and the rains of early spring. You could hear big boulders being pushed around by the force of on-rushing waters. A tall pine of fifty years or more crashed into the water; the road was being washed away. The stream was muddy, slate coloured. The fields above it were full of wild flowers. The air was pure and there was enchantment. On the high hills there was still snow, and the glaciers and the great peaks still held the recent snows; they will still be white all the summer long.
It was a marvellous morning and you could have walked on endlessly, never feeling the steep hills. There was a perfume in the air, clear and strong. There was no one on that path, coming down or going up. You were alone with those dark pines and the rushing waters. The sky was that astonishing blue that only the mountains have. You looked at it through leaves and the straight pines. There was no one to talk to and there was no chattering of the mind. A magpie, white and black, flew by, disappearing into the woods. The path led away from the noisy stream and the silence was absolute. It wasn’t the silence after the noise; it wasn’t the silence that comes with the setting of the sun, nor that silence when the mind dies down. It wasn’t the silence of museums and churches but something totally unrelated to time and space. It wasn’t the silence that mind makes for itself. The sun was hot and the shadows were pleasant.
He only discovered recently that there was not a single thought during these long walks, in the crowded streets or on the solitary paths. Ever since he was a boy it had been like that, no thought entered his mind. He was watching and listening and nothing else. Thought with its associations never arose. There was no image-making. One day he was suddenly aware how extraordinary it was; he attempted often to think but no thought would come. On these walks, with people or without them, any movement of thought was absent. This is to be alone.
Over the snow peaks clouds were forming, heavy and dark; probably it would rain later on but now the shadows were very sharp with the sun bright and clear. There was still that pleasant smell in the air and the rains would bring a different smell. It was a long way down to the chalet.