How would I know that the world is lonely? Surely, I’m just projecting a personal feeling onto the environment in which that feeling arises. Admittedly, there are a lot of blanks to fill in when we try to make sense of our relationship with the world and as we struggle to construct a meaningful life. But, how useful can it be to anthropomorphize a totality, which extends beyond the horizon, and which we can only hope is noticing us enough to miss us, as we wander about in the hinterland of our vast unknowing?
Perhaps I should be talking about mind instead of the world. Is it reasonable to speak of the loneliness of mind, as if the mind is a long-distance runner trying to stay next to us as the tide of a moving universe keeps beaching us on the sand?
It seems that—if our world or our minds hardly notice us—then our society, like a driverless steamroller running through a beautiful flower garden, should not be ignoring the living heart of our world, nor the beings who have nowhere else to stand.
Mind is our last court of appeal. But that word points in two directions: to our ordinary thinking faculty (as in “I’ll keep that in mind”) and to a totality with no boundaries.
This concurrent pointing to the local and the universal is confusing. We sense that mind is crucial to our lives but the lack of certainty about whether we are living under the thumb of a mind, vast as the cosmos, or are the owner of a mind willing to do our bidding, leaves us doubting whether we ourselves have any firm foundation.
I had that question in mind when I sat down to do a simple breathing exercise this morning: inhale, pause, exhale, pause, and then—I always assume—on to another inhalation. I started wondering if I was supposed to deliberately introduce pauses between the inbreaths and the outbreaths; or whether they would just be there.
This dilemma resolved itself with the thought that relaxation in the flow of breathing, thinking and feeling, was what I was hoping to find; so, clearly, I should just watch what was happening. And with that recognition another realization followed:
I’m only alive because mind is working tirelessly in the shadows of my awareness, not just delivering one more breath until the day when another inhalation won’t arrive, but maintaining an amazing apparatus with neurons firing, and billions of cells simultaneously delivering fresh water while carrying away waste.
Is this world lonely? I know I would feel lonely if I was supporting countless beings and receiving so little appreciation. I think my son must have been lonely in his brief trajectory across the sky. Like a meteor that has been sailing through the solar system from time immemorial, which then enters the atmosphere of this world only to quickly burn up and vanish, I wonder why the world didn’t take greater notice of him. But perhaps a more useful question would be:
What would it be like to be at home in the heavens, those same heavens which surely have no such limitation as “gone too soon”?