How to cope with loneliness

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    • #25097
      Anonymous

      Hello PureDhamma friends :)

      I have just recently discovered this great website and have been researching and reading Lal’s articles since! I found that the way the article was written is very systematic, and logical, so it is easier to follow than other sources (to me). Thank you a lot Lal, for your beautiful and hard work in putting together the knowledge for us!

      I tried searching for keyword “loneliness” and “lonely”, but not a lot shows up, so I would like to ask you here, if you already have written about it, please point me to the right direction :) Thank you.

      It has been a hard life for me. In short, I don’t have a good relationship with my family, mainly because of my Dad. The only way to not create any more sufferings is to keep a distance from him, and as a result, I also keep a distance from other family members. I am 30 years old now, and have started to accept that this is a life lesson for myself, and some how karma from my past. The consequences it had left for me is detrimental to myself. Because it has been hard for me to be able to form a bond and feel connected to other people.

      As a result, I feel very lonely. I would like to listen to some advice, from the Buddha Dhamma perspective, of how to cope with this. I don’t want to live dependently on other people, I want to be able to feel happy and blissful if I have to stay on my own for the rest of my life.

      Staying on my own doesn’t mean that I don’t have any other social connections. I meant that I don’t have any intimate relationships or form any deep bonds with other people.

      Thank you very much!
      Blessings to you,
      Wta

    • #25098
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Welcome to the forum, Wta!

      I am having a really busy day today. I just saw your post. I may not be able to respond to your questions today.
      If anyone has suggestions, please feel free to respond. I am sure Wta would appreciate any suggestions.

    • #25099
      Johnny_Lim
      Participant

      Hi Wta,

      I recommend you listen to the discourses from the following Youtube channel:

      Beginning from the first discourse right at the bottom #105 (currently).

      Because you have read the articles on Puredhamma, it would be easier for you to follow the discourses. I’m pretty sure you will find the content very beneficial and enlightening.

    • #25100
      Anonymous

      Thank you Lal and Johnny_Lim!

      1. I’m starting to listen to the Sermon Lists that you shared with me. I will listen to the most recent one and working backward, however if you know of any video that directly targets my questions, I would love to listen to them first! :)

      2. Thank you Lal, please take your time! Good things are worth waiting for :D

    • #25101
      Johnny_Lim
      Participant

      Wta,

      I recalled there is one discourse that talked about a lady who is severely abused by her husband, and how the bhante commended her forbearance to withstand the physical and verbal torment. I’m now on my 2nd round listening to the sermons. Will prompt you when I get to listen to that discourse again.

    • #25103
      Christian
      Participant

      Loneliness is mental fabrication. Buddha praised recluse. Imagine situation that somebody is in your position but it’s happy in your place, what does it mean? You suffering is because you trying to keep things to your own satisfaction but world is Anicca, Dukkha and Anatta.

    • #25106
      Lal
      Keymaster

      The need for interaction with other humans is inherent in a human. It is like “kama guna” that I discussed in the post “Kāma Guṇa – Origin of Attachment (Tanhā).”

      The need for social interactions starts to diminish as one attains higher and higher magga phala starting as a Sotapanna Anugami. An Ariya (Noble Person) is one who starts seeing that things in this world (including the need for “social life”) have no value.
      – At that point, one just tends to interact with similar minded people who are also on the Noble Path. Such interactions are different from social interactions like “get together and have a good time.”

      The need for attention is critically important in the early years, as a baby. That is when we develop our character with the influence of especially the parents.

      It seems to me Wta, that you seem to have a good family, even though you did not get along with your Dad. Otherwise, you would not be coming to this website and the forum.
      – My advice regarding your Dad is to try to be respectful to him and not do anything to aggravate him. It could just be that your personalities (which are part of “gati“; see below) are different. We MUST respect our parents no matter how bad they are. It is very hard to get a human body (you may not know much about gandhabba yet), and we have a human body thanks to our parents.
      – Having conflicts with those who are close leads to an agitated state of mind. That is especially true regarding a parent.
      – Staying away is better than having arguments. But it is best if you can slowly improve bonds with the parents and family. Take the initiative to be respectful to the parents, even if it is hard.

      My other suggestion is to continue learning Dhamma. Listen to those desana that Johnny and Christian suggested if you find them useful. If you have a temple closeby go there and participate in the activities there. Not all temples are the same. But that is much better than getting together with bad friends, having bad social interactions. Participating in the forum and discussing Dhamma concepts with like-minded people is another. When you are on the path, Dhamma will direct you in the right direction, and you will start connecting with like-minded people.
      – Many people, especially young people, fall into the trap of trying to make friends just to overcome loneliness. Many start associating with bad people and develop bad habits.

      The joy of Dhamma is unlike another. One comprehending Dhamma will never be lonely.

      You may want to read the following section when you have time (just pick topics of interest):
      Moral Living and Fundamentals

      These are some initial thoughts. If you have specific issues we can discuss.

      P.S. I mentioned “gati” (pronounced “gathi”) above. Those are one’s character/habits; see, “The Law of Attraction, Habits, Character (Gati), and Cravings (Asavas)” and the posts referred to in there.

    • #25126
      firewns
      Participant

      Hi wta,

      Some people feel lonely because they are searching for meaning in their lives and are not content with the answers that they find, such as ‘contributing to society’, ‘attaining success in their careers’, ‘becoming parents’, ‘finding love in a significant other’ and so on.

      The fact is that most aspects of our careers and relationships have kusala (or punna) and (unfortunately) akusala cittas as their underlying basis. Punna and akusala cittas (I think) cannot function without their corresponding cetasikas. Sobhana and akusala cetasikas are (I think) abhisankhara with kammic consequences and can bring about future rebirths, as long as they are still conditioned by ignorance of ultimate reality.

      Hence careers and relationships have anicca (cannot be maintained to one’s satisfaction in the long run) and dukkha (stress and unease) as their reality, and they are anatta (cannot be relied on for refuge and a safe haven). Sabbe sankhara anicca, sabbe sankhara dukkha, sabbe dhamma anatta.

      It is no wonder that these people continue to feel lonely, for they have not found something which could satisfactorily be taken as a refuge yet!

      However, careers and relationships are not entirely without merit as long as we use them to cultivate karuna, metta, mudita and perhaps upekkha (the four immeasurables), as well as dana and sila in our dealings with others. Just keep in mind their anicca, dukkha and anatta nature.

      To ease loneliness, it is useful to think of ourselves as well as other people as essentially having no immutable, permanent ego or substance. We are basically instances of cittas, cetasikas and rupas that arise and pass away, to condition the next set of rupas, cittas and cetasikas to arise without a pause in between for incalculable aeons. There is loneliness, but no one who experiences loneliness.

      Contemplate and meditate that what we think of ourselves are neither self nor non-self. There is nothing fixed and permanent in ourselves, not just in our bodies (we get sick, aged and die), but even in our minds (our cittas and attached cetasikas arise and fall away in extremely rapid succession). Because of that, we can find no self. However, there is a stream of continuity binding together and conditioning all these linked sequences of cittas, cetasikas and rupas so that there is kamma and vipaka. Because of that, it is equally wrong to think that there is non-self.

      When we gain wisdom as a result of these meditations, we may see some of our yearnings for deeper connections fade away.

      However, even before that, it may be a good idea to listen to desanas from Ariyas, so as to help one to attain the Sotapanna stage if one is so inclined.

      Sometimes, our loneliness may serve a deeper and more positive purpose. It may be a sign of an inner prompting to proceed on our life journey to fulfill certain paramitas, aspirations, determinations or debt obligations. Couples very much in love with each other; close friends and relatives, or even close parents and children who cannot bear to separate from each other at death may make the aspiration to continue their close relationships in future lives. Of course, in order to obtain these same close relationships in future lives, they may have to perform sufficiently meritorious acts to bring about suitable conditions.

      For example, Yasodhara was the wife of the Buddha in our current Buddha sasana. When the Dipankara Buddha was around, Prince Siddharta was born as an ascetic by the name of Sumedha. After the Bodhisatta Sumedha had finally completed the eight requirements to receive the definite proclamation of Buddhahood from Dipankara Buddha, Yasodhara (who was born as a noble lady named Sumitra) aspired to be his consort and helpmate and to support him actively in his quest for Buddhahood.This strong aspiration and the meritorious deeds she performed over a long period of time resulted in her being the Bodhisattva’s consort and supporter throughout many births.

      As well, when the Venerable Upali asked the Buddha for permission to go to dwell in the forest in seclusion, the Buddha refused, for if Upali went into the forest he would learn only meditation, while, if he remained amongst men, he would have knowledge both of meditation and of the word of the Dhamma. If Venerable Upali had indeed gone to dwell in the forest, he would have been unable to fulfill his aspiration made during the time of Padumuttara Buddha to hear praise from the future Buddha Gotama for being chief of the Vinayadharas. Neither would he have been able to expound the Vinaya during the first Buddhist Council for the benefit of many. This example is stated not because Venerable Upali felt lonely (I do not think he was lonely), but because sometimes we need to form closer connections with the people around us in our journey towards Nibbana or our ultimate goal and aspirations, or simply to benefit others such as in the case of Venerable Sariputta who continued to care for his fellow bhikkhus even after attaining Arahanthood.

      You may also find it useful to keep a journal to record your innermost thoughts about your loneliness in order to gain a better understanding of it. When are the times that you feel most lonely? What kind of friends or relationships do you wish to form? What can cause loneliness to surface in you? What causes your loneliness to strengthen or lessen? Are there any other useful questions about your loneliness you could think about?

      Your loneliness may be a sign that you need to form closer relationships with other people in order to fulfill your aspirations and determinations from past lives (although not necessarily). Perhaps you could be a volunteer in your community to form closer connections with the people around you.

      Being born human during a Buddha Sasana is a great advantage in our journey to attain Nibbana, if we wisely make use of it. If you feel that it would be beneficial for you to attain Nibbana, do actively seek to deepen your connections with others. When you feel ready, you may also want to connect with your family members again. There may be hurt and fear, but do not do anything that will further hurt yourself or your family members if possible. I deeply wish you happiness in all your dealings in future.

      Hope this helps!

    • #25263
      lodonyo
      Participant

      ALOHA WTA,
      I hope you come back to the forum and aee these messages.

      Pema chodron has a great rest on loneliness. https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.lionsroar.com/six-kinds-of-loneliness/amp/. It relates to a recent article written by all ACTUALLY…https://puredhamma.net/dhamma-and-science/origin-of-life/worldview-of-the-buddha/is-there-a-self/chachakka-sutta-no-self-involved-in-vipaka/

      Tge thick & skinny of it is illustrated early in Pema’s article: “The experience of certain feelings can seem particularly pregnant with desire for resolution: loneliness, boredom, anxiety. Unless we can relax with these feelings, it’s very hard to stay in the middle when we experience them. We want victory or defeat, praise or blame. For example, if somebody abandons us, we don’t want to be with that raw discomfort. Instead, we conjure up a familiar identity of ourselves as a hapless victim. Or maybe we avoid the rawness by acting out and righteously telling the person how messed up he or she is. We automatically want to cover over the pain in one way or another, identifying with victory or victimhood.”

      I’m currently on my way to having Gnosis on this topic. The keyword for the issue is “feeling”. Basically, the situation is this: due to a series of karmic fruits, we feel some kind pain due to REAL INVISIBLE ENERGY (Kamma) in our mental bodies. This is like the feeling of a loose tooth, or the feeling of a headache – we either bear witness to it with some kind of strong positive emotion like love and compassion or we let our mind become agitated and continue to think about how we can rid ourselves of THE FEELING. <- thia actually creates even more suffering and thus a cycle repeats.

      You listed the karmic fruit/cause of your feeling in your post. NOT having intimate connections with your family or anyone for that matter.
      From Buddha: “Now this, bhikkhus, is the noble’s comprehension of suffering: Birth of a [hated] is suffering, Decay of a [Loved] is suffering, disease/disorder of a [loved] is suffering, death/transition of a [loved] is suffering; union with a [Hated] is suffering; separation from a [Loved] is suffering; not getting an object of satisfaction is suffering; in brief, the…”. So you are having to go through a seemingly continual amount of suffering because the kama guna (as mentioned above) which is a real phenomena called “intimate connection” – likely a source of energy from other people – you are missing in your life. This is like being in a karmic situation where you are poor and cannot afford food – maybe you would be hungry ? all the time and have to bear the suffering feeling of being without food a lot until you were able to eat again.

      I write all this to give context to thw above answers and other answers I’m sure you’re getting. The dukkha vedana(feeling) have the same root. Also those feelings are RESULTS and made worse, or better, by thoughts about them.

      In my own research/XP, the Buddha – and anyone giving teachings for that matter — has always responded with a kind of meditation to people who were experiencing the feeling of suffering from the reasons Buddha gave(listed above). It seems to me then, an effective recourse for experiencing a “suffering karmic result” is to either focus on that feeling with various levels of wisdom anout the true nature of reality OR re-direct the attention of the mind with one-pointed attitude towards a positive direction like Buddha dhma or some other topic.

      The important thing here seems to be 1. The feelings of loneliness ARE NOT JUST “ONE FEELING” but basically a string of bad feeling resulting from a craving that is not met everytime it “bubbles up”. Every bubble-craving not met gives a kind of pain feeling and we experience a string of them which results kn a kind of subtle agonizing emotion.
      2. Though a variety of advice can be given, the main faculties of aid in such a situation always seem to be directing the attention and intention towards the feeling, the cause od the feeling, or some other object that will result in a dukkha feeling instead. <- perhaps if you think about it, there can only be so many “movies” running at once?

      So I hope this helps. Release the craving of kamaguna/intimate connection can come through a variety of ways, as #2 above. Past life regression, early childhood regression, vipassana meditation, deel Dharma research and consequential realizations, deep meditation on the nature of your suffering…etc etc etc. But all such pathways to happiness rely on us not generating hatred (or greed) due to the experience. I think this is the initial hard part…going from suffering to focusing on something else other than the suffering and temporary relief from it. We all seem to have our own “version of this and this ia because the root is the same!

    • #25742
      Lal
      Keymaster

      Johnny had submitted the following comment and it did not get published due to current issues with the forum software. They are still trying to fix the “bugs” in new software. The following is a comment from Johnny.

      Hi wta,

      This is the desana I was referring to. Story begins at 53:29.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ZI2UU5jznY&list=PLGrCtt8wuHbOz67iBmmtrI2rGfj-uoYfQ&index=48&t=0s

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