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On Being Alone
by Scott McClure
The following experience occurred on a beach after a long and joyful night with friends. We had decided to spend the night on the beach in an effort to simply relate to one another. What transpired as dawn arrived shook my current world-view, and began a new phase of feeling intimately connected with life.
I do not claim the ideas or the experience to be my own, as I know in my heart that what you are about to read you already know – although you might have forgotten it.
Sitting on this beach with dawn approaching, I begin to question: Who are these people around me? Who are these human beings that I call friends? What has brought them to stay with me on this beach this night?
Does it matter? I am here. We are here. We are alone.
I feel a certain calm wash over my mind as I consider and accept that finding the meaning might remove me from the experience, an experience which I am very much enjoying – the balmy weather, the expanse of the ocean, and the sound through the night of the constant rhythm of the breakers.
I am sitting alone, away from the group. I see water rushing back to join a larger body, and its action separates me from the sand on the other side. I feel the distance with longing as I look back at my fellow human.
Dawn has begun. Light is coming.
My eyes, still wide from the constant darkness, soak up the light with joy and wonder of how beautiful this morning will be. Then, with longing to find myself in the vision of this morning, to banish the division between my self and my surroundings, the question arrives:
"What if there's no other?" A simple question with implications that shake my current worldview.
"What if there's no other?" It resounds in my mind, and the echo replies, "All one." It hits me and the questioning continues.
What does "all-one" feel like? Would I exist without the contrast to know myself? Wouldn't I just be alone? Do the semantics tell the truth? Aren't alone and all-one the same exact concept?
It strikes hard and fast, and I can barely keep up, but the questions are being answered as fast as they arrive.
Is a black dot on a black wall still a black dot? No
Does the perception of contrast create the division? Yes
Would the perception of sameness then create the oneness? Yes
Would the value of oneness override my desire for experience? Yes
Is this perception my choice? Certainly
Can I simply decide not to experience the separation?
Suddenly, understanding silences the logic.
Complete peace without desire,
Oneness, and love, and the expansive freedom of being alone,
Knowing without thinking or feeling,
Simple, egoless understanding,
Whole and infinite and alone,
Do you remember?
In retrospect, I realize that the experience was both simple and complex for the mind to handle. Most of my audience that morning was confused about what I was saying. Maybe you are also confused while reading it. As I look back, I know I was speaking in metaphor about the experience. I was outside my logical mind. Words cannot capture it, and only begin to describe it – much like trying to describe love.
Throughout the night we spent time relating as human beings and getting out of our heads, getting out of the western analytical mode of thinking. And then it happened. My logical mind let go for a moment, and I experienced what I can only describe as the infinite. Call it what you will, but realize that once you label it, you have lost it.
I came to the conclusion that my feeling of separation was ultimately my choice. I found that knowing myself requires me knowing others.
I have adopted the viewpoint that the point of life is for oneness to know itself. The expression of infinite possibility includes everything and everyone, in all their exquisite diversity. I cannot be me if you are not you. I am you are me.
All contents of this page Copyright © 2003 by the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS). Materials may be excerpted, reprinted, or republished only with the express written consent of IONS.