The opposite of loneliness is togetherness, but the true cure for loneliness is Oneness. The need for togetherness, close bonds, a loving relationship, or friendship is one of the strongest motive forces in the human mind. When the impulse for togetherness is unfulfilled, then it becomes a mighty force in the psyche. Human beings do not thrive alone; seeking each other’s company is as natural as eating or drinking. It is so very essential and habitual that most do not attempt to investigate this need’s origin. The preoccupation with, the longing for, the exalted position of romantic love in many cultures is but an example of how important is togetherness.
In fact, the worst punishment that prisoners have to endure is what is called solitary confinement. Isolation is toughest punishment to endure. People who are subjected to long periods of isolation will likely suffer from mental-emotional difficulties or may go insane.
Even during times when the human mind craves solitude, one finds this need arising in different guises. A person retiring to live in the wilderness may find companionship with a dog; a person stricken by grief over the loss of a loved one may isolate themselves, but will keep longing for the company of the departed person; a person seeking solitude in nature may find himself communing with trees, flowers animals etc.; a person in need of some alone time after a long day at work may read a book (engaging in imaginary company) or watch some TV observing other humans interact.
Thus, companionship is the sought after salve to sooth the suffering born of loneliness. But does this desired connectedness truly satisfy the heart? Is it truly the antidote to the ailment of loneliness? For the pain caused by the sense of alienation, estrangement, abandonment, rejection and isolation is often waiting in the shadows only inches away from the light cast by companionship.
To make the subject even more complex, the feelings of togetherness or loneliness are not objective experiences, rather they are mind states. This means that one could feel lonely even while being surrounded by loved ones and vs. versa, one can do well even while deprived of close bonds with other humans. Good examples for the first are the lives of many a famous people who have fame, fortune, numerous admirers and yet often feel isolated and friendless. On the other hand, one hears stories of POWs or political prisoners who have survived torture, depravation and isolation only by keeping their inner flame lit focusing their mind on their goal, ideal, loved ones or hope for a better future.
The last paragraph might be viewed as contradicting the statements made previously, but is it? The fact is that all of human thoughts, attitudes, feelings, views, impulses, and even sense perceptions are within the domain of the mind. They may originate in circumstances external to the individual or in conditioned patterns of the mind, i.e. internal. Whether the origin of loneliness or connectedness is subjective, objective or a combination of both, the condition of the human mind is such that it thrives when if feels connected and supported and declines when not.
All human relationship are subject to ups and downs. There is no permanence in any connection; it will flourish at times and wither at others. Moreover, all relationship have their expiration date, whether it is the doing of the people involved, circumstances or death. Accordingly the need for togetherness is at times fulfilled bringing joy, while at other times denied and one is left wanting. History, literature, movies, plays, songs, paintings and such are a testament to the changeable and often fickle nature of relationship of all kinds. Most tragedies and comedies are about or derived from this complex and unsteady nature of human connections.
The above statements are not a pessimistic, negative view of the subject; they are but an observation of the human condition. Throughout human history many wise observations were made about this state of affairs; art, psychology and philosophy have all contributed to illuminating the subject. So, why is love, relationship, connectedness and also their opposite so very unstable? In essence and without going into detail - all things and circumstances are subject to constant change. Internally, all mind states, thoughts, feelings, moods, attitudes etc. are ever changing, consequently all that they support is subject to change. Therefore, togetherness and loneliness are bound to interplay and alternate.
According to the yogi masters the actual ‘remedy’ for the emotional and existential loneliness that plagues the human mind is the experience of Oneness. They state that our own True Nature is one, homogenous, indivisible, Being, knowledge and Bliss (or love). This claim that they make is based on their explorations and not on a mere whim, speculation or faith, and it can be verified by reason and one’s first hand experience. They tell us that our desire for togetherness is but a shadow cast by our profound desire for Oneness. It is our essential Oneness of being, the indivisibility of the universe, the homogenous nature of Reality that beckons us back into Itself. We long to be together, we thrive on affection and love because our natural condition is not of isolation or togetherness, but rather a Being that transcends both. This Oneness of being is not somewhere else outside of ourselves, but rather it is our True Self. In other words, the desire for love is the desire for union with the beloved. Union in its true sense is a state of completion where there are not two (or more), but one indivisible being. This desire for love is but a natural extension of our longing for our True Self, Wholeness or Oneness (synonymous terms).
This brief essay is not meant to discredit the merit of togetherness or to undermine the importance of human connection. It is only an attempt to put things in a perspective that may be useful for avoiding unnecessary suffering. A spiritual master may recommend to a seeker a period of solitude, yet not for all and certainly they don’t advocate forced isolation. The way recommended is not one of avoidance (of relationship), but one of a changed attitude. Instead of seeking togetherness in order to avoid loneliness, they may recommend using togetherness as well as loneliness to realize Oneness. The path of seeking through human connection for our core that is Oneness may be a beneficial one for most of us bringing us within reach of the goal. We can transform our relationships by our spiritual intention and practice into a journey toward Oneness.