The First Word

None of us can refrain from action. The Gita offers a masterclass on what action to take and how Guru Purnima 2022 has approached us as we give our adoration to Sai Maharaj our precious gift to him is solitude along with two pice Dakshina is Shraddha and Saburi.

Transform loneliness into creative solitude. It’s the only way to gain perspective on life and all that happens around us.

The pandemic at its worst has kept people indoors and those accustomed to being on the move have been confined to their homes. Many are experiencing loneliness, which they have not been able to transform into creative solitude. Sometimes what we really need is to experience aloneness that can become a psychological boon.

As we read Sai Satcharitra, Saibaba talks about the deep silence and peace which comes when all things are alone. This aloneness is not aching, fearsome loneliness. It is aloneness of being; it is uncorrupted, rich and complete.

It was this experience that the Sri Radhakrishna Swamiji felt during his sojourn at Ooty when he remained in solitude. For a month he had no one to talk to and passed the time with books, observing nature, listening to the wind in the trees, watching butterflies, and observing silence. And for the first time in a long while he felt free from the incessant anxieties of daily life and at last had time to have time.

The value of such solitude is found universally in all religions. Swamiji spent 40 days and nights at Pune and realized Datta Maharaj. Tradition says that the young Muhammad had the habit of meditating alone for several weeks every year in a cave in Mount Hira. Ancient Indic tradition extols solitariness. It considers solitariness as a necessary precondition for spiritual well-being and enlightenment. Before his enlightenment, the Buddha too spent extended periods alone in the forests. Solitude is used ceremonially throughout the world by indigenous cultures, as an ancient form of initiation.

Such practices challenge the individual, who alone in the wilderness battles fear and loneliness to discover inner strengths and true identity. This is called the Wilderness Experience.

But there is not only the wilderness experience. One can also experience solitude amid one’s activities in the world. Meister Eckhart, the 13th-14th century German philosopher and mystic, said: “Spirituality is not to be learnt by flight from the world, or by running away from things, or by turning solitary and going apart from the world. Rather, we must learn an inner solitude wherever or with whomsoever we may be — we must learn to penetrate things and find God there.”

The world as we know it today, often does not find any meaning in solitude. It considers people who practice it weird. There is the popular belief that loneliness is a personal failure and the more one socializes, the better the chance we have of realizing our humanity. But the opposite is true, because loneliness transformed into creative solitude is the only way in which we can gain perspective on our lives and the happenings around us.

In India, the practice of solitude is found among its many illustrious sons — Ramakrishna Paramahansa, Swami Vivekananda, Ramana Maharshi and others. Among its Christian proponents in India, Jesuit, Roberto de Nobili in the 17th century is considered the founder of the Christian Ashram Movement. In the second half of the 20th century, Bede Griffiths, Jules Mochanin and Henry Le Saux, all Christian monks, embraced the practice of sanyas when they came to India and founded Christian ashrams.

On this Guru Purnima Day let us resolve that Solitude helps us to better handle the problems of the world by giving us the right perspective on things. When one experiences solitude, it is difficult to hate the other. Solitude springs from love and the connection we have with our source.

There are very good reasons for solitude. Regular periods of solitude or even occasional periods can be psychologically refreshing. It can teach us to be independent yet connected. It can rest the mind, lead us to contentment with what we are and have. It teaches us the value of silence. It helps us to have a good look at ourselves and helps us to dissolve unhealthy attachments.

We wish all our readers a happy Guru Purnima and maintain solitude close behind our thoughts.