Monday, March 21, 2005


by Skald

A degree of loneliness is a prerequisite for love, beauty, and even bliss. The Japanese word "yugen" expresses this idea. Its the feeling of emptiness that pervades beauty. Its the wisp of impermanence that pervades love.

Nothing lasts and therein lies the magic. All beauty is fleeting. All bliss. All of life. Much of American culture is directed towards denying these truths... and there lies the source of much of its ugliness.

I know, for example, that I am a kinder person when Im lonely. A hint of emptiness is good for the heart. Im more sensitive, and more aware. Strange as it sounds, I feel closer to people when Im somewhat separate.... and often feel distant when Im crowded with social contacts. We need space to appreciate what fills it. We need loneliness to appreciate human contact.

We need suffering to appreciate bliss. A root disease of the wealthy is that they have not suffered enough loss. When youve been hungry, its a lot harder to sneer at homeless people. When youve suffered, you become more sensitive to others who are hurting.

Though they dont realize it, these people are missing out on the deepest human experiences. Yes they are comfortable. Yes they can afford a wide range of stimulation. They manage to avoid much pain and loss with their wealth. But that is a devils bargain... for they thereby sacrifice much that is sublime, aching, and beautiful.

What strikes me about these people is their crudeness and insensitivity. They are thick skinned, dull eyed, and hard-hearted. Their imaginations are as limited as their awareness. They lack courage.

Facing the void takes courage. Embracing impermanence takes courage. Accepting loss takes courage. Loneliness takes courage. Freedom takes courage.

Great courage.

We cannot cheat life, nor can we avoid it. We cannot forever hold on to its sweetness without confronting its bitterness. These are truths as old as human existence.

But there is something magical at work here--- for it is often the case that by accepting bitterness, we taste sweetness.

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