If I could, I would spend the better part of my time in solitude. Preferably it would be surrounded by the beauty of nature.
The splendour of the trees and flow of the sparkling rivers drown out the noisy sounds of the busy city streets. For what is nature itself but a grand cathedral.
It is in solitude where one can rest in a state of contemplation, and be at peace with oneself.
Blinded by the trivialities of day to day life, we forget to admire the beauty that is close to home – that which is right in front of us.
In a culture that tends to place a great emphasis on extroversion, perhaps we have long forgotten the wisdom bestowed to us by the great religious and spiritual leaders. From the likes of Moses to Jesus and the Buddha, all these spiritual teachers sought to temporarily detach themselves from society in pursuit of the self-transcendence available to us through introspection.
For how can one truly know thyself, and be free from the pressures and demands of modern society without an embrace of stillness.
I can continue to ramble on about the importance of cultivating solitude, but it would ultimately pale in comparison to the exquisite words of the great writers and poets.
So here are three of my favourite quotes and reflections, each exploring a different aspect of the topic.
Rainer Maria Rilke
But your solitude will be a support and a home for you, even in the midst of very unfamiliar circumstances, and from it you will find all your pathsLetters to a Young Poet
The esteemed poet Rilke reflects on the necessity of solitude for personal and spiritual growth. Rilke acknowledges that time alone will come with discomfort as your mind unravels the fears and emotions hidden in the unconscious. However, only through stillness can one learn to accept and surrender these parts of themselves in order to transcend them.
We can escape from the demands of conformity placed on us by society, and relish in the peace and bliss that comes with cultivating our inner selves.
True action, good and radiant action, my friends, does not spring from activity, from busy bustling, it does not spring from industrious hammering. It grows in the solitude of the mountains, it grows on the summits where silence and danger dwell. It grows out of the suffering which you have not yet learned to sufferIf the War Goes On: Reflections on War and Politics
Many of us spend our day to day lives stuck in the trance of busyness. We feel like we always ought to be doing something to feel important, to validate our self worth.
How little do we often spend time though on reflecting on the value and consequences of this ‘busyness’?
What can we genuinely achieve without modest self-reflection?
Hesse comments that on the other side of suffering that our aloneness may bring, comes the bliss of solitude, peace and beauty.
It is only when an individual voluntarily chooses and embraces seclusion can one reap its benefits. That is, one who spends time alone must be able to regulate their emotions and rejoin or re-enter social groups at their own will.
Once these preconditions are met, and one is able to ‘let go’ and accept their condition of solitude, it can provide us with the rejuvenation and insight we need.
It is widely believed that interpersonal relationships of an intimate kind are the chief, if not the only, source of human happiness. Yet the lives of creative individuals often seem to run counter to this assumption. For example, many of the world’s greatest thinkers have not reared families or formed close personal ties. This is true of Descartes, Newton, Locke, Pascale, Spinoza, Kant, Leibniz, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard and WittgensteinSolitude: A Return to the Self
Contrary to popular belief, it is not being in the physical presence of others that can subdue feelings of isolation. What matters is the connection or bond one has to others, themselves or their natural surroundings.
We can feel emotions of bitter loneliness while sitting in a packed room while embracing the benefits of solitude when we are alone with ourselves.
This is not to disregard the importance of intimate interpersonal relationships, rather it is to note that there are different alternatives and ways of life available to us. There is no one template one must follow to attain contentment in life.
However, with all the anxieties we face in the modern world, it is good to still know we can always retreat into stillness – into solitude.
This article was originally published on my personal blog https://alifeofvirtue.ca/
Featured Image Source: Pexels
11 thoughts on “On Solitude”
I loved every word of this and it seems only a few of us truly appreciate solitude and what it offers. It’s an invitation to so much.
Solitude as a support and foundation, a root for radiant action and a source happiness – what an interesting trio of quotes you’ve brought together. And a great post you’ve written to remind us of the many delights of being alone. Thank you, Andrew!
Thank you, it’s unfortunate that our culture generally looks at someone who is alone, as a necessarily bad thing. Someone who is at peace with themselves can be in a blissful state of mind when experiencing such solitude:)
A man can be himself only so long as he is alone, and if he does not love solitude, he will not love freedom, for it is only when he is alone that he is really free.
This is something I really needed to read this. The guilt I feel when I am not doing anything can’t be normal. It is good to still know we can always retreat into stillness – into solitude. Thank you.
Spot on, Andrew. It’s such a strange feeling to be completely alone and isolated in large crowds of people, yet feel completely connected while alone in Nature, or with someone of like mind. We seem to be a species that needs some contact with each other, but but maybe not that much. Thanks for the thoughts. 🙂
Certainly something to think about. Perhaps the use of the word alone is misleading. It is really about being enough.
My greatest periods of growth have come as a result of solitude. Whether traveling solo or living alone, I find a sense of strength and peace that I don’t feel around other people.
Loved reading so thoughtful and deep,
.”This is not to disregard the importance of intimate interpersonal relationships, rather it is to note that there are different alternatives and ways of life available to us. There is no one template one must follow to attain contentment in life. ” Yes ! you spoke my heart .
Thank you, I am glad you enjoyed it:) Hope you find stillness today!