JohnK wrote: ↑
Thu Feb 08, 2018 3:27 am
I wasn't thinking that the suttas would need to discuss loneliness specifically to help address the question of how we come to the conclusion that what we are experiencing is "loneliness," but that teachings in the suttas could be used to explore that question. This exploration could be in the abstract, or even more interesting I think, reflecting on actual experience
For example, in the abstract, using the khandas, we perhaps have a bodily sensation and vedana that we perceive to be loneliness (but how? especially if it may be as you suggest a modern thing, so probably trickier than perceiving "anger"). Or, using DO, visual contact with an old photograph or a happy family causes an unpleasant feeling that we experience as loneliness. Do we recognize it as loneliness when we begin to recognize thoughts of loneliness? Or before that?
Taking care of our eight cats, I've made an interesting discovery:
Like most people, I've grown up with the belief that cats are loners. But regularly seeing six cats play together, and sleep together in the same big box (on a relatively warm day, so they weren't huddling together because it was cold) made me reconsider the "Cats are loners" dogma. Observing the cats, I see that sometimes, they like to be with other cats, or us humans; and other times, they are happy to be alone, or even want to be left alone. When they are alone, they don't seem to me like they are seeking out secluded parts of the house or the garden to sulk or because they would be unwell, they just like it. Just like at other times, they like to be with other cats, or with us humans.
Seeing how social these supposedly loner cats are, made me rethink how I think of aloneness and loneliness.
It seems to me that the feeling of loneliness arises when a person believes 1. they should have particular types of relationships with others, and that they should be in those relationships 24/7; and 2. that being alone is always bad.
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Kim OHara wrote: ↑
Wed Feb 07, 2018 10:57 pm
I suspect that "loneliness" is a relatively modern thing, a product of the loosening of family and community bonds which started with the Industrial Revolution, and wasn't common enough in the Buddha's world to need much attention.
On the contrary, loneliness seems to be a prominent theme for people who are very social. It's very social people who can't stand to be alone, and who experience aloneness as loneliness (and who socialize in order to escape the feeling of loneliness).