Photo of J. Krishnamurti

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 man in the street is the pain of life; he’s never alone, far away, untouched and vulnerable. To be full of knowledge is never to be alone, and the activity of that 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.

From Krishnamurti’s Book KRISHNAMURTI’S JOURNAL

Aloneness and Isolation

The sun had gone down and the trees were dark and shapely against the darkening sky. The wide, strong river was peaceful and still. The moon was just visible on the horizon: she was coming up between two great trees, but she was not yet casting shadows.

We walked up the steep bank of the river and took a path that skirted the green wheat fields. This path was a very ancient way; many thousands had trodden it, and it was rich in tradition and silence. It wandered among fields and mangoes, tamarinds and deserted shrines. There were large patches of garden, sweet peas deliciously scenting the air. The birds were settling down for the night, and a large pond was beginning to reflect the stars. Nature was not communicative that evening. The trees were aloof; they had withdrawn into their silence and darkness. A few chattering villagers passed by on their bicycles, and once again there was deep silence and that peace which comes when all things are alone.

Aloneness is indivisible and loneliness is separation.

This aloneness is not aching, fearsome loneliness. It is the aloneness of being; it is uncorrupted, rich, complete. That tamarind tree has no existence other than being itself. So is this aloneness. One is alone, like the fire, like the flower, but one is not aware of its purity and of its immensity. One can truly communicate only when there is aloneness. Being alone is not the outcome of denial, of self-enclosure. Aloneness is the purgation of all motives, of all pursuits of desire, of all ends. Aloneness is not an end product of the mind. You cannot wish to be alone. Such a wish is merely an escape from the pain of not being able to commune. Loneliness, with its fear and ache, is isolation, the inevitable action of the self. This process of isolation, whether expansive or narrow, is productive of confusion, conflict and sorrow. Isolation can never give birth to aloneness; the one has to cease for the other to be.

Aloneness is indivisible and loneliness is separation. That which is alone is pliable and so enduring. Only the alone can commune with that which is causeless, the immeasurable. To the alone, life is eternal; to the alone, there is no death. The alone can never cease to be.

The moon was just coming over the treetops, and the shadows were thick and dark. A dog began to bark as we passed the little village and walked back along the river. The river was so still that it caught the stars and the lights of the long bridge among its waters. High up on the bank children were standing and laughing, and a baby was crying. The fishermen were cleaning and coiling their nets. A night-bird flew silently by. Someone began to sing on the other bank of the wide river, and his words were clear and penetrating. Again the all-pervading aloneness of life.

From Krishnamurti’s Book COMMENTARIES ON LIVING 1

Video: What Is Loneliness?

Suppose I am very lonely. Though I am married, have children, go to the office, go to the temple and all that nonsense that goes on, I am utterly, profoundly lonely. Being lonely, I escape because I don’t know how to tackle that loneliness. I don’t understand what loneliness is, but I am frightened: this sense of existence in which there is no relationship with another, no sense of communication with another, thoroughly enclosed. Don’t you know these feelings? Wake up! As my brain doesn’t know how to solve it, it escapes. It escapes through entertainment. Whether it is religious entertainment or football, they are both the same. Do you agree? Are you really agreeing that religious entertainment, going to the temple, the puja and all the things that go on there, and football are the same? They are entertainments because they do not alter your life. They are just an amusement. Do you agree to this? Is it only a verbal agreement or actually saying, ‘They are the same’? Therefore finished with it.

So what is loneliness? Without escaping, without running away into illusory, imaginary ideals, the actual fact is that I am despairingly, anxiously lonely. I may be married, I may have sex, I may have children, but this thing is rotting. Most of us are deeply hurt from childhood, and we carry that hurt throughout life. You can say it doesn’t matter, that it will not affect your action, but it does affect action because unconsciously, deeply, your actions are guided by your hurt. You build a wall around yourself not to be hurt more, and the consequences of that hurt are bitterness and more loneliness.

And why do human beings go through this loneliness? Ask yourself. As two friends we are talking about this. Why? It must exist because of your actions. Your daily actions are self-centred. Your daily thoughts and activities are concerned with yourself. You may be a social worker and give your life to that, but the ‘me’ is still going on, only you have identified yourself with something. Like the communist identifies with the State, with the ideal, you identify yourself with something else.

So as long as there is self-centred activity, there must be loneliness. I don’t know if you see this. If your chief concern is ‘me’, then that ‘me’ must act in a very narrow circle. And that action must inevitably produce this exhausting, despairing loneliness. Do you understand all this, not verbally but actually?

Krishnamurti in Ojai 1981, Talk 3

Photo of J. Krishnamurti

Why Are We So Lonely?

What is action in our relationship with each other? How do we behave? When you look into yourself and look about you, the squalor, the dirt, the appalling corruption, all that, we have created it; we have not created nature, the tiger, the marvellous rivers. Thought has not created that, but we have created the world in which we live. And that world is action.

You cannot live without action, without relationship. Which is, action is a movement in relationship, whether that relationship is most intimate or casual. Why do we behave this way? We take drugs and alcohol; we indulge in so many useless, ugly, destructive ways. Why? Is it that we are escaping from ourselves? Is it that we are bored with life? Please examine what the speaker is saying; see it in your own life. Is it that we are trying to escape from the enormous weight and sorrow of loneliness? You may be married with children; you may have, I hope, a good, affectionate, caring husband or wife. You may have those, but inwardly, deeply, there is a sense of abiding loneliness. Is it that we are escaping from that, which is the action? That is perhaps why we are cruel and indifferent, because we are so concerned with our loneliness.

Most of us are lonely.

What is loneliness? Most of us are lonely. Out of that loneliness, we want companionship. We escape from loneliness through every form of entertainment, religious as well as that which is most amusing. We escape in so many ways. But like a deep disease that must be cured, it is always there. So one must go into this very carefully because if we don’t understand it, our action, which is our daily relationship with each other, will distort that relationship. That relationship then becomes merely exploiting each other to escape from this deep abiding loneliness.

Why are we so lonely? I don’t know if you have ever experienced the state of loneliness, isolation, having no relationship at all with others. Perhaps some of you have experienced this, or most of you. And if we don’t understand that loneliness, our actions will be distorted. So we are inquiring not only into action but also into loneliness, which destroys, disrupts, distorts all relationship in action. What is loneliness? Why are we so self-centred?
Why are we in our own lives? We may have friends, be married and all the rest of it, but we are always concerned with ourselves. Our actions are self-centred: ambitious, greedy, envious, suffering, aggressive. That is fairly clear. Is that the root of this deep loneliness of man? And can that loneliness utterly disappear?

When there is a hurt, psychological hurt, any action that takes place must inevitably be affected by the hurt. We get very hurt, not only about little things but deeply hurt in not being able to fulfil, not being able to achieve, not being able to become something. We get deeply hurt, and that hurt affects our actions. You cannot escape from distorting action if you are hurt. That is, as long as you have an image about yourself, you are going to be hurt. Inevitably. And when there is hurt, action will be destructive, will bring about conflict. Is it possible to be aware of this loneliness and not escape from it, but remain with it: not take a drink, not pick up a book, not rush off to some form of entertainment, but to completely, without any movement of thought, remain with that feeling of utter isolation? Then you will see, if you do, that feeling of isolation disappears entirely, because it is thought that creates the sense of isolation.

Krishnamurti in Bombay 1981, Talk 4

Audio: A Reading by Terence Stamp on Loneliness


HER SON HAD recently died, and she said she did not know what to do now. She had so much time on her hands, she was so bored and weary and sorrowful that she was ready to die. She had brought him up with loving care and intelligence, and he had gone to one of the best schools and to college. She had not spoiled him, though he had had everything that was necessary. She had put her faith and hope in him, and had given him all her love; for there was no one else to share it with, she and her husband having separated long ago. Her son had died through some wrong diagnosis and operation – though, she added smilingly, the doctors said that the operation was “successful.” Now she was left alone, and life seemed so vain and pointless. She had wept when he died, until there were no more tears, but only a dull and weary emptiness. She had had such plans for both of them, but now she was utterly lost.

The breeze was blowing from the sea, cool and fresh, and under the tree it was quiet. The colours on the mountains were vivid, and the blue jays were very talkative. A cow wandered by, followed by her calf, and a squirrel dashed up a tree, wildly chattering. It sat on a branch and began to scold, and the scolding went on for a long time, its tail bobbing up and down. It had such sparkling bright eyes and sharp claws. A lizard came out to warm itself, and caught a fly. The tree tops were gently swaying, and a dead tree against the sky was straight and splendid. It was being bleached by the sun. There was another dead tree beside it, dark and curving, more recent in its decay. A few clouds rested on the distant mountains.

What a strange thing is loneliness, and how frightening it is! We never allow ourselves to get too close to it; and if by chance we do, we quickly run away from it. We will do anything to escape from loneliness, to cover it up. Our conscious and unconscious preoccupation seems to be to avoid it or to overcome it. Avoiding and overcoming loneliness are equally futile; though suppressed or neglected, the pain, the problem, is still there. You may lose yourself in a crowd, and yet be utterly lonely; you may be intensely active, but loneliness silently creeps upon you; put the book down, and it is there. Amusements and drinks cannot drown loneliness; you may temporarily evade it, but when the laughter and the effects of alcohol are over, the fear of loneliness returns. You may be ambitious and successful, you may have vast power over others, you may be rich in knowledge, you may worship and forget yourself in the rigmarole of rituals; but do what you will, the ache of loneliness continues. You may exist only for your son, for the Master, for the expression of your talent; but like the darkness, loneliness covers you. You may love or hate, escape from it according to your temperament and psychological demands; but loneliness is there, waiting and watching, withdrawing only to approach again.

Loneliness is the awareness of complete isolation; and are not our activities self-enclosing? Though our thoughts and emotions are expansive, are they not exclusive and dividing? Are we not seeking dominance in our relationships, in our rights and possessions, thereby creating resistance? Do we not regard work as “yours” and “mine”? Are we not identified with the collective, with the country, or with the few? Is not our whole tendency to isolate ourselves, to divide and separate? The very activity of the self, at whatever level, is the way of isolation; and loneliness is the consciousness of the self without activity. Activity, whether physical or psychological, becomes a means of self-expansion; and when there is no activity of any kind, there is an awareness of the emptiness of the self. It is this emptiness that we seek to fill, and in filling it we spend our life, whether at a noble or ignoble level. There may seem to be no sociological harm in filling this emptiness at a noble level; but illusion breeds untold misery and destruction, which may not be immediate. The craving to fill this emptiness – to run away from it, which is the same thing – cannot be sublimated or suppressed; for who is the entity that is to suppress or sublimate? Is not that very entity another form of craving? The objects of craving may vary, but is not all craving similar? You may change the object of your craving from drink to ideation; but without understanding the process of craving, illusion is inevitable.

There is no entity separate from craving; there is only craving, there is no one who craves. Craving takes on different masks at different times, depending on its interests. The memory of these varying interests meets the new, which brings about conflict, and so the chooser is born, establishing himself as an entity separate and distinct from craving. But the entity is not different from its qualities. The entity who tries to fill or run away from emptiness, incompleteness, loneliness, is not different from that which he is avoiding; he is it. He cannot run away from himself; all that he can do is to understand himself. He is his loneliness, his emptiness; and as long as he regards it as something separate from himself, he will be in illusion and endless conflict. When he directly experiences that he is his own loneliness, then only can there be freedom from fear. Fear exists only in relationship to an idea, and idea is the response of memory as thought. Thought is the result of experience; and though it can ponder over emptiness, have sensations with regard to it, it cannot know emptiness directly. The word “loneliness,” with its memories of pain and fear, prevents the experiencing of it afresh. The word is memory, and when the word is no longer significant, then the relationship between the experiencer and the experienced is wholly different; then that relationship is direct and not through a word, through memory; then the experiencer is the experience, which alone brings freedom from fear.

Love and emptiness cannot abide together; when there is the feeling of loneliness, love is not. You may hide emptiness under the word “love,” but when the object of your love is no longer there or does not respond, then you are aware of emptiness, you are frustrated. We use the word “love” as a means of escaping from ourselves, from our own insufficiency. We cling to the one we love, we are jealous, we miss him when he is not there and are utterly lost when he dies; and then we seek comfort in some other form, in some belief, in some substitute. Is all this love? Love is not an idea, the result of association; love is not something to be used as an escape from our own wretchedness and when we do so use it, we make problems which have no solutions. Love is not an abstraction, but its reality can be experienced only when idea, mind, is no longer the supreme factor.

From Krishnamurti’s Book COMMENTARIES ON LIVING 1

Can One Go Beyond Loneliness?

What is loneliness? Most of us know the feeling of being completely isolated. Though you are with your friends, in a group or with your family, you feel completely cut off, isolated. And that isolation, that loneliness is rather painful. Being aware of that pain we either escape from it, try to cover it up or rationalise it. But at the end of it, the loneliness still remains. Then what is one to do with it?

What is this sense of loneliness? Is it the result of our daily life which is so self-centred, so egocentric, so selfish, which is all the time isolating, building a wall around oneself? That brings about a quality or feeling of utter loneliness, utter despair in that loneliness. If you do not escape from it and you see the absurdity of escaping, the fact that running away from it is part of that loneliness, then you have the energy to face loneliness. We are wasting that energy through verbal or actual escape, so when you realise the absurdity, the silliness of it, then you are facing loneliness.

Is the observer different from loneliness?

When you look at that loneliness, are you looking at it as an observer different from that which you call lonely? Are you looking at it as an outsider looking in, or is the observer the observed? When you say, ‘I am angry,’ is anger different from you? Obviously not. You are anger. So when you look at that loneliness, when there is no escape but you are actually in contact with it, then the observer is the observed. Then there is no movement of escape or rationalisation, and therefore a complete going through with that loneliness, the ending of it.

So it is very important to understand the relationship between the observer and the observed. Is the observer different from the observed? The observed is loneliness. Is the observer different from the thing seen? The observer gives the name to that it sees as loneliness. The observer has experienced that loneliness previously and when the thing comes up again it says, ‘That is loneliness.’ So the observer is responding from the previous experience and therefore separates itself from the new. Whereas if you don’t look at it with the eyes of the past, then the observer is the observed and you go beyond it.

Krishnamurti in Ojai 1973, Talk 2

Photo of J. Krishnamurti

The Difference Between Loneliness and Aloneness

We must be aware and see the difference between loneliness and aloneness. Most of us are lonely. You may be in a crowd, with your family, at a party, or walking by yourself, and you suddenly have this extraordinary sense of isolation, suddenly cut off from everything, having no relationship with anything. That isolation is essentially a state of fear, and from that fear we do all kinds of things: turn on the radio, drink, escape, including the pursuit of God, and all the rest of it. And out of that loneliness, every action and reaction takes place. That loneliness is entirely different from aloneness.

Aloneness is complete freedom from the known.

Loneliness is the result of influence and oneself being so malleable, easily shaped. But aloneness is not the result of any influence. It is complete freedom from all influence: the influence of your wife or husband, of the State, of what you read, of the church and tradition, of your unconscious demands – being completely free of all that. And in that freedom there is an aloneness. That aloneness is complete freedom from the known. Then there is a sense of learning, which comes when we understand the total process of life. That learning demands discipline. Not the discipline of the church or army, scholar or athlete, not that of the specialist who is pursuing certain knowledge, but that discipline which comes out of a deep sense of humility. And there cannot be humility if there is no aloneness.

Krishnamurti in Saanen 1962, Talk 10

To walk alone, unimpeded by thought, by the trail of our desires, is to go beyond the reaches of the mind. It is the mind that isolates, separates and cuts off communion. The mind cannot be made whole; it cannot make itself complete, for that very effort is a process of isolation; it is part of the loneliness that nothing can cover. The mind is the product of the many, and what is put together can never be alone. Aloneness is not the result of thought. Only when thought is utterly still is there the flight of the alone to the alone.

From Krishnamurti’s Book COMMENTARIES ON LIVING 2