The Book of Yourself Newsletter

Issue 9: August 2022

Dear Friends,

The hot temperatures have continued unabated throughout August. Returning by train from Switzerland, we traversed a shockingly parched western Germany. The grass was burnt to a crisp, the crops looked stunted and the trees, stressed by the drought, were turning yellow and beginning to lose their leaves. According to the meteorologists, this has been the hottest summer on record in these latitudes. I even heard that it was the hottest in Europe in the last five hundred years. I don’t know how they know that, but it does not feel at all like an exaggeration. Even in the waterlogged Netherlands, the effects are very noticeable. The water levels have gone down; on the Rhine, which is a major shipping lane, they have become so low that the sandbanks threaten to beach the barges. It has not rained for weeks on end. The trees manage to thrive because the water table is not at all deep, but the dikes are totally brown and dusty instead of lusciously green. This has rather serious consequences, as it means an absence of green pastures for the farm animals and those living wildly in the nature reserve. They are being fed on dry hay. But as there is no grass to cut this year, there might not be enough fodder for the winter. This problem affects both the Lowlands and the Alps. And if it seems harsh over here in temperate Europe, one can only shudder at the thought of the extreme living conditions in the most arid regions of the world. According to report, the polar caps are heating up at four times the global average, posing a threat to its human and animal inhabitants. Knowing all this and much more, one would expect that humanity would set aside all differences and come together to tackle this global problem. In the news, however, all one hears is the same old litany of traditional divisions and mindless conflicts. The narrow scope of our self-interest blinds us to our total responsibility and daily paves the way to the irreversible edge of global disaster.

This coming Sunday, 11 September, we will be having our third meeting in the six-part series ‘To Be Human – Examining the Core of the Teachings’.[1] This time, under the general theme of ‘The common consciousness of mankind’, we will be looking at the last part of the second paragraph in K’s unique statement:

“The content of his [man’s] consciousness is his entire existence. The individuality is the name, the form and superficial culture he acquires from tradition and environment. The uniqueness of man does not lie in the superficial but in complete freedom from the content of his consciousness, which is common to all humanity. So he is not an individual.”

The perception that mankind shares a common consciousness was for K one of the keys to dissolving our endemic division and conflict. It was, in fact, the basis for his foundational statement that each of us is the world and the world is us. This realization, he maintained, naturally brings about an awareness of our total responsibility for the whole of humanity, for all things. Another implication is that, apart from the name, the form and the superficial influences of culture and environment, we are not separate or unique individuals. For K such uniqueness lay in complete freedom from the content of consciousness. These are radical propositions which we will do our best to unravel.

Later in the month, from the 26th to the 30th, I will be facilitating an online workshop in Spanish organized by KFA on the theme of loneliness.[2]

Loneliness is one of those key existential states that affect us all. If one looks back over the trail of one’s life, one sees it manifesting at critical moments of complete alienation. This happened in the family, at school, in relation to society and inwardly as the painful awareness of one’s isolation from others and, in a deeper sense, from oneself. One sees as well how one tried to escape from it through various means, through entertainment, relationship, social work, and the pursuit of some goal or other. But however much we tried to shake it off or to sublimate it, it clung to us like our shadow, until we realized that it was futile to run away from it.

In this five-day workshop we will look at this universal constant of human experience in an attempt to deepen our understanding of ourselves. We will begin by considering its nature:

“It’s an experience of being completely isolated, a feeling of not being able to depend on anything, of being cut off from all relationship. The ‘me’, the ego, the self, by its very nature is constantly building a wall around itself; all its activity leads to isolation. Becoming aware of its isolation, it begins to identify itself with virtue, with God, with property, with a person, country, or ideology; but this identification is part of the process of isolation. In other words, we escape by every possible means from the pain of loneliness, from this feeling of isolation, and so we never directly experience it. It’s like being afraid of something round the corner and never facing it, never finding out what it is, but always running away and taking refuge in somebody or something, which only breeds more fear.”
Commentaries on Living, Third Series, pg. 302

[1] For more information, please visit the KECC website: .
[2] For more information, please visit:

We seem to be caught in a vicious circle whereby we create loneliness with our egocentric activities and then run away from the pain of it through identification and attachment. This engages us in a constant movement of escape from ourselves.

The structural values of society, with its emphasis on ambition, competition and status, which is on self-interest, is a major factor in the perpetuation of isolation in our lives:

“In this relationship called society, every human being is cutting himself off from another by his position, by his ambition, by his desire for fame, power, and so on; but he has to live in this brutal relationship with other men like himself, so the whole thing is glossed over and made respectable by pleasant-sounding words. In everyday life, each one is devoted to his own interests, though it may be in the name of the country, in the name of peace, or God, and so the isolating process goes on. One becomes aware of complete isolation. Thought, which has been giving all importance to itself, isolating itself as the ‘me’, the ego, has finally come to the point of realizing that it’s held in the prison of its own making.”
Commentaries on Living, Third Series, pg. 201

Loneliness implies a fear of emptiness and insufficiency from which we attempt to escape through relationship, hoping thereby to be complemented and enriched:

“Being empty, poor, wretched, insufficient, devoid of interest or importance, one hopes through another to be enriched. Through the love of another one hopes to forget oneself. Through the beauty of another one hopes to acquire beauty. Through the family, through the nation, through the lover, through some fantastic belief, one hopes to cover this desert with flowers. And God is the ultimate lover. So one puts hooks into all these things. In this there is pain and uncertainty, and the desert seems more arid than ever before. Of course it is neither more nor less arid. It is what it was, only one has avoided looking at it while escaping through some form of attachment with its pain, and then escaping from that pain into detachment. But one remains arid and empty as before. So instead of trying to escape, either through attachment or through detachment, can we not become aware of this fact, of this deep inward poverty and inadequacy, this dull, hollow isolation?”
The Urgency of Change, pg. 96

Being aware of and staying with this feeling of inward poverty and isolation opens the door to a quality of solitude in which the wound of loneliness is healed and aloneness comes into being:

We are afraid of solitude, for it opens the door to our insufficiency, the poverty of our own being; but it is solitude that heals the deepening wound of loneliness. To walk alone, unimpeded by thought, by the trail of our desires, is to go beyond the reaches of the mind. It is the mind that isolates, separates and cuts off communion. The mind cannot be made whole; it cannot make itself complete, for that very effort is a process of isolation, it is part of the loneliness that nothing can cover. The mind is the product of the many, and what is put together can never be alone. Aloneness is not the result of thought. Only when thought is utterly still is there the flight of the alone to the alone.”
Commentaries on Living, Second Series, pp. 86-87

There is something very beautiful and wholesome about this proposed inward journey from the ache of loneliness to the serenity of solitude to the ecstasy of aloneness. In their normal usage, these words do not convey such fundamental and differentiated meanings. Loneliness, for example, is not seen as a portal through which to discover the inner workings of the psyche. On the contrary, it is understood that its pain and the fear of it are the cues to run away from it. Whereas here we are shown the need to enter into direct contact with the total feeling. The pain indicates that something needs our close attention. Such attention is part of solitude, of remaining alone with the feeling, without wanting to change it in any way. Just as the escape from it serves only to perpetuate it, remaining attentively with it begins the process of healing. Healing means restoring wholeness, which is what aloneness, all-oneness, means. And only from such a quality of integration can we relate wholesomely with another.

So loneliness, which we generally treat as a fleeting sensation without much significance, turns out to reveal a great depth of meaning encompassing the very quality of the psyche and its impact on relationship. Loneliness is one of the principal motives in the search for relationship. We feel we are nothing by ourselves and being afraid of that nothingness we seek to remedy it through relationship. Because the other person is the means to escape from our loneliness, we become dependent on them, attached, which leads to jealousy and the fear of loss. This brings about a sense of possessiveness and domination, which generates friction and violence, breaking down the relationship and closing the vicious circle of loneliness. We might call this love, but it looks like the spinning wheel of misfortune.

A worthy challenge with deep emotional roots and existential and transcendental implications.

You take good care, amigos, for we live in interesting times,


Photos: J. Gómez Rodríguez: 1. The Harbor, Lelystad, NL; 2. Brockwood Park School, UK.

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