Spending Time Alone and its Lessons – Part 2

by Jan 2, 2019Spiritual Reflections

When living a life in solitude complications quickly disappear. Anyone who has spent any amount of time alone knows that simplicity becomes the pursuit. Someone said, “When alone simplicity is King”. Another said, In solitude “practicalities rule and then ability to perform those practicalities more and more efficiently and easily is the entertaining pursuit.”

But the result of this is that this simplicity begins to affect your whole being in such a way that thought also comes under the rule of simplicity. Profoundness of thought and the ability to critically evaluate complicated theories comes under the scrutiny of a mind ruled by simplicity. With abundance of time and a lack of stimulation of superfluous intensity, a clarity of thought appears, as the fog of that superfluous intensity dissipates, and levels of wisdoms foundational ways of thinking appear and brand us for life deep in our souls.

When alone simplicity is king.

For anyone who has spent much time in an alone lifestyle the fact that simple functions of the day become more important than deep thought and profoundness of understanding of theories and ideas is inarguable. Practicalities rule and the ability to perform those practicalities more and more efficiently and easily is the entertaining pursuit. Anyone who does not know this does not know aloneness.

The 6th century Chinese sage Laozi (accredited to writing the classic work The Tao Te Ching) said, “He who tells does not know. He who knows does not tell”. My experience would change the last three words to, ‘can not tell’.

But the wonderful, and surprising, result of this is that profoundness of thought and critical evaluation of theories becomes a matter of intuitive simplicity. They are put to the relentless scrutiny or intuitive practicality. This way of thinking continues on into all aspects of life and there is a dawning of a level of wisdoms ways of thinking, that contain a great degree of accuracy, embedded in the soul.

Consider this quote from a modern day student of hermits. It is an excerpt from the book ‘The Stranger in the Woods’ which is the story of a modern day hermit, Chris Knight, who spent 27 years alone in the woods of Maine, USA.

Pg 82

An endless list of writers and painters and philosophers and scientists have been described as hermits, including Charles Darwin, Thomas Edison, Emily Bronte, and Vincent van Gogh. Herman Melville, the author of Moby-Dick, largely withdrew from public life for thirty years. “All profound things,” he wrote, “are preceded and attended by Silence.”

Albert Einstein referred to himself as a “loner in daily life.” The American essayist William Deresiewicz wrote that, “no real excellence, personal or social, artistic, philosophical, scientific, or moral, can arise without solitude,” The historian Edward Gibbon said that “solitude is the school of genius.” Plato, Descartes, Kierkegaard, and Kafka have all been described as solitaries. “Not till we have lost the world,” wrote Thoreau, “do we begin to find ourselves.”

This is not a complete list. But one of the key statements here is I think the last of Henry David Thoreau. “Not till we have lost the world do we begin to find ourselves”. There are many ways we need to ‘lose the world’. Remember this does not mean the earth. It means all of the systems of this world that are human and even evilly founded without God. Separation from people and immersion in nature is one way to ‘lose the world’. And in losing it we find ourselves. It’s what’s left! To some solitude can be horrifying but I wonder if the clarity that it brings intensifies self deceptions, denials and guilt so we come face to face with things we don’t want to be aware of.

But to this list of people above I would add the biblical personalities of Moses, David, the Old Testament Prophets, Jesus of Nazareth, Paul and John the outstanding apostles. These men mostly affected all Biblical teachings. All of these knew times of great solitude and experienced the clarity of soul that was necessary to truly ‘see’ God and understand.

Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God”. We usually think of this purity as being a heart that has no leaning towards sin. But no one is born with such a heart for all have sinned. I believe that a pure heart is not a heart that doesn’t have sin but a heart that has no leaning towards the world. It doesn’t have that impurity. Francis of Assisi was such and so was mother Theresa. Moses became such and David was always that. Paul had three years alone in the desert and John the Baptist even longer. The apostle John said, “Love not the world or the things that are in the world for he who loves the world has not the love of the Father in him.”

Love of the world and love of the Father are incompatible. Solitude helps us make the separation.

Solitude brings clarity of mind and heart which together enhance spiritual perception.

– M. James Jordan