Encountering Loneliness

There are no authentic cures or pop wisdom methods for freeing us from loneliness. It is not pathological that we experience loneliness but it in fact reflects something essential that is missing in our experience of being in life. If we take the time to explore beyond the barriers of learned convention into the depths from where these feelings emerge,  we may discover something more real about life than we have known since a shift to relating to the world through more superficial resources occurred.There are consequences for moving away from a more intimate way of relating to life that human conditioning requires.

From the description from Amazon, in “Zen Encounters with Loneliness” Terrance Keenan weaves together poetry, memoir, and raw insight to give voice to the lonely “nobody” in everyone. From his memories of early childhood to his struggles with addiction, writer’s block, and human relationship, Keenan delivers a heart-rending portrayal of the human hunger for selfhood and connection. Through his beautifully crafted literary reflections, he finds that Zen does not comfort our dream of being somebody, rather, it reveals connection only when we face who we really are—nobody. Zen Encounters intimately calls us to recognize that the well of emptiness is also a well of potential—to grow, learn, and overcome adversity.

I am enjoying this book. I find that Keenan explores some subtleties of existence and his relation to others and to life and how that has changed and allowed for a more authentic relating. There is much about our conditioned lives that prevents us from intimately knowing ourselves and Terrence Keenan looks to uncover some of  what is hidden and how we hide it in authentic heartfelt reflection. He touches a depth that many do not recognize, that our conditioning hides from us in our conventional lives. He probes even deeper into these depths with his poetry that captures what words can not.

3 thoughts on “Encountering Loneliness

  1. This sounds like an interesting book Gord; I wonder if Keenan makes distinctions between ‘loneliness’ and ‘aloneness’ as some have previously done? I find a great sense of connectedness in aloneness, one which is of a different quality to the connectedness sensed with other beings. I cannot of say that one is better than the other; though I imagine that different character types will have a preference one way or the other. Loneliness is a different matter of course; one which is felt more emotionally and negatively.


  2. I would agree with what you are saying Hariod. We seem to share insights. Could it be that aloneness is seeing with greater depth and awareness what loneliness appears to be. Sometimes I think that being isolated to a sense of experience that is loneliness we are not exploring the greater depths and origins of it. There are so many books in the market place that perceive it as something to be overcome or eliminated. For me loneliness is the first step in awareness. It is a door opening to greater realizations about the conditioned self and than about a more authentic self or better expressed the origins of self. But most have been discouraged from walking through that door by virtue of our conditioning and the redirection of our awareness towards a more superficial understanding that it facilitates. Thanks Hariod for the chance to dialogue with you. .


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