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The first meeting with oneself, with aloneness, is meeting one’s real ego without clothing—naked ego, assertive, distinct, clear, definite ego. The experience of loneliness is from ego’s perspective: ego has no one to comfort itself, no one to act as moral support. This kind of aloneness is simply the feeling of being nowhere, lost. There is tremendous sadness that there’s nothing around you that you can hang onto. But it is your own ego acting as the voice of sadness, loneliness, so you cannot blame anybody or even get angry. That starting point is very useful and valuable. It was the inspiration to go into retreat in Milarepa’s case, and in our case as well.

Taking part in a retreat is a way to express aloneness, loneliness, desolation. We might experience fear in retreat, but that fear is purely an expression of that loneliness. We are trying to entertain ourselves, so we manufacture fear. We might go back to our mental notes of the past, or our scrap books, but that becomes boring. We are back to square one constantly. Cooking, sleeping or walking might become a source of entertainment. There is so little to do, we are thankful there is something to do. But even that comes back to square one. We tend to get disillusioned with that, too.

Such experiences of being in retreat are not exactly wretched. There is a very faint, subtle sense that you are falling in love with something. You begin to appreciate the desolation. A subtle romanticism is happening completely. Because there is nothing to entertain you, everything comes back to you. The songs of Milarepa, at the early stage of his being in retreat, are love songs. They praise the terrain, the mountains, his cave, his desolateness, his solitude, and the memory of his guru. Those are his love songs...

Find Your Heart in Loneliness - Lion's Roar

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