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Author Topic: Alone  (Read 860 times)

Altair

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Alone
« on: December 15, 2018, 08:50:39 am »
Urban living, modern technology, and trends in relationships and families mean that more and more of us live alone and sometimes in isolation, especially as we age. Recent studies suggest that being alone can be as bad for human health as smoking or lack of exercise.

What if anything does your religion say about being alone? Is it considered a positive, a negative, it depends, or does it offer no judgment? Does it provide any advice or examples of how to live alone successfully?
The first song sets the wheel in motion / The second is a song of love / The third song tells of Her devotion / The fourth cries joy from the sky above
The fifth song binds our fate to silence / and bids us live each moment well / The sixth unleashes rage and violence / The seventh song has truth to tell
The last song echoes through the ages / to ask its question all night long / And close the circle on these pages / These, the metamythos songs

raya

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Re: Alone
« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2018, 02:50:54 pm »
Urban living, modern technology, and trends in relationships and families mean that more and more of us live alone and sometimes in isolation, especially as we age. Recent studies suggest that being alone can be as bad for human health as smoking or lack of exercise.

What if anything does your religion say about being alone? Is it considered a positive, a negative, it depends, or does it offer no judgment? Does it provide any advice or examples of how to live alone successfully?

Hello Altair -  my name is Raya and I am new to this board.   I don't reply to most posts but I have to say that reading your post caused me to stop and think and have another cup of coffee while I thought some more.    I was raised in Christianity and know the bible fairly well.  As far as I know the bible doesn't say anything about being alone or the effects on a person.  But there is an explanation for why it would be omitted.  At the time that the bible was compiled somewhere around 300ce (except for the Hebrew section or old testament commonly called the Torah)  people didn't live alone and most were of one thought or belief system.   They lived in groups and it was easy to find people of like mind so being 'alone' simply didn't apply at the time period.

 We can't really fault urbanization either to any great extreme because people are still able to find each other if they choose.  Many will find the closest church, temple  or group with others of like mind.

 You mention technology - well this has it's advantages and disadvantages.  The one advantage is that it can keep the mind busy and working like your post did to mine.  I had to really think about the cause of being 'alone'.  And, I think, that excluding reasons like alcoholism or any of the other negative behaviours that being 'alone' has to do with a person's belief system and/or knowledge. Even in pagan societies knowledge alone can put a person outside the main circle.  The search for accurate knowledge and the acquiring of it is the equivalent of self-imposed  excommunication. If you break down the word excommunication it means that communication is removed from the main group.  This is generally mind shattering to a great many people. 

The current trend in family relationships and break-downs can also be a problem.  An individual grows up with a family around them and then has a family of his or her own.  The family grows up and leaves and we end up with the 'empty nest' syndrome.  But again, a person can find others of like mind and belief systems. Or they may join a yoga class or something of the sort where they find others.

So, my final conclusion is that it is 'knowledge' that puts a person into the 'alone' category.   As an example there are many pagans that have gotten into problems with their families because they gained knowledge that informed him or her that the religious belief system they grew up with is faulty.  Families don't like to hear this.  So the 'pagan' finds her/himself 'alone' outside the circle.  Knowledge is to blame for this.  But then the pagan finds a group of like minds but continues to gain knowledge and realizes that the belief system of the new found group is faulty - again he or she is outside the circle and 'alone'. So, considering all the above I feel that knowledge is what sets a person out on the path of being alone. Which makes another problem - do we give up the acquiring of knowledge to have others with us of like mind?  Teaching them isn't an option because many don't want to learn.

Well this reply has taken on a mind of its own so I'll finish it right here lol.  It is a very good post you put up Altair, makes a mind think.

Altair

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Re: Alone
« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2018, 03:16:14 pm »
So, my final conclusion is that it is 'knowledge' that puts a person into the 'alone' category. 

Hello, Raya; I have to give your thesis, that knowledge makes us end up alone, some serious thought. It's a rather depressing thought, because I think pursuit of knowledge is a good and necessary thing.
The first song sets the wheel in motion / The second is a song of love / The third song tells of Her devotion / The fourth cries joy from the sky above
The fifth song binds our fate to silence / and bids us live each moment well / The sixth unleashes rage and violence / The seventh song has truth to tell
The last song echoes through the ages / to ask its question all night long / And close the circle on these pages / These, the metamythos songs

raya

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Re: Alone
« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2018, 06:10:01 pm »
Hello, Raya; I have to give your thesis, that knowledge makes us end up alone, some serious thought. It's a rather depressing thought, because I think pursuit of knowledge is a good and necessary thing.

Quite true Altair, but it doesn't have to be depressing.  Think of it more as becoming an 'enlightened' human being.  With each step we take on a new path of knowledge we become a little more enlightened.  I think of it this way.  A belief system is like a cage for the mind. (I got this out of a very good book).  The cage door is open and we are free to walk out of it.  We can choose to stay in the comfortable cage or walk out the door and see what is going on in the other cages.  My problem is what happens when you have checked out all the cages and found the belief systems in them to be faulty?  A person then can be called truly enlightened - but also very 'alone', unless he/she finds others who have left all the cages behind also.  And this is very very hard to do.

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Re: Alone
« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2018, 10:13:24 pm »
Urban living, modern technology, and trends in relationships and families mean that more and more of us live alone and sometimes in isolation, especially as we age. Recent studies suggest that being alone can be as bad for human health as smoking or lack of exercise.

What if anything does your religion say about being alone? Is it considered a positive, a negative, it depends, or does it offer no judgment? Does it provide any advice or examples of how to live alone successfully?

I think there's different aspects here.

My actual religion has the saying that one cannot be a witch alone - but that's popularly taken to mean that witchcraft is at a fundamental level about relationships (with elements, with magic, with the world around us, and with gods or powers if we're doing religious witchcraft, as well as with people if we're part of a tradition passed from person to person.)

At the same time, I don't think that means we necessarily have to live in a particular structure. (And one of the things that's rather striking about the early history of modern witchcraft in terms of Wicca is the number of people involved who did not have biological children, or who were older and single for one reason or another. Not everyone, of course, but in higher numbers than you'd guess at first glance.)

I think like so many things, it's a balancing act: there are benefits to being alone, there are benefits to community, most of us move along a spectrum depending on our stage in life, our priorities, our choices. Living alone gives time for study, reflection, deeper work, but can be isolating. Living with others gives a chance for inspiration, interaction, and so on, but can come with a tremendous amount of distraction. Neither is purely good or bad.
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EclecticWheel

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Re: Alone
« Reply #5 on: December 16, 2018, 12:20:51 am »
Urban living, modern technology, and trends in relationships and families mean that more and more of us live alone and sometimes in isolation, especially as we age. Recent studies suggest that being alone can be as bad for human health as smoking or lack of exercise.

What if anything does your religion say about being alone? Is it considered a positive, a negative, it depends, or does it offer no judgment? Does it provide any advice or examples of how to live alone successfully?

I live alone and have often worked alone.  But for a brief period I have always been single.

There are hermits in the Episcopal tradition, but it is very rare.  I presume they still receive communion in a communal setting, but rarely.

What I've heard from a priest in the Episcopal tradition is that sometimes we must go be alone, even leave the community for a time, but that we return in the end bringing with us what we have learned.

The private aspects of my spirituality rarely involve other people.  On rare occasions I have been privileged to use my rituals to work with others to heal spiritually, but that is so rare because most people won't relate to what I've designed primarily for myself.

In so many ways it can be a lonely path, and some of my experiences, though I am grateful for them, also make me feel different, and that can exacerbate feelings of loneliness.

In my own life I strive to bear this loneliness with patience.  It can be painful, but there are gifts that come from being alone.  And there are gifts in introverted spirituality, which mine very much is both in its private aspect, and the Episcopal tradition tends to be as well in my experience.

When alone and when practicing a private spirituality there is really opportunity to know one's self.  One of my primary practices is to commune with myself, to really get to know my internal states.

In my case I am grateful to have a spiritual community I am welcome in whatever my eccentricities.  I have a balance.

In my private spirituality I turn intensely inward.  In my communal path I also turn inward, but I have opportunity to share in community along the path, and there are outer aspects to focus on: communal liturgy, helping the needy, and so on.

For those who practice spirituality entirely apart from community I recommend at least two or more close friendships.  Though being alone can be an asset in some respects we are still a social species with need for human intimacy.
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Aisling

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Re: Alone
« Reply #6 on: December 16, 2018, 01:23:38 pm »
I think like so many things, it's a balancing act: there are benefits to being alone, there are benefits to community, most of us move along a spectrum depending on our stage in life, our priorities, our choices. Living alone gives time for study, reflection, deeper work, but can be isolating. Living with others gives a chance for inspiration, interaction, and so on, but can come with a tremendous amount of distraction. Neither is purely good or bad.

^This.  Knowing yourself - and what your needs are - is absolutely vital in performing that balancing act. 

For me, there's a constant dynamic tension between the need to be alone and to engage with others.    I literally cannot do most of my spiritual work without connecting to other people and those connections tend to be individualized, intricate, deep, and emotion-laden.  I thrive on those deep one-on-one connections, but am also ridiculously introverted in the way I processing ideas and emotions.  So, yay, for my spiritual life forcing me to find a good equilibrium.   
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Donal2018

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Re: Alone
« Reply #7 on: December 16, 2018, 09:00:37 pm »
Urban living, modern technology, and trends in relationships and families mean that more and more of us live alone and sometimes in isolation, especially as we age. Recent studies suggest that being alone can be as bad for human health as smoking or lack of exercise.

What if anything does your religion say about being alone? Is it considered a positive, a negative, it depends, or does it offer no judgment? Does it provide any advice or examples of how to live alone successfully?

Yes, there is a lack of community and social fabric in modern urban society, compared maybe to some of the past. I think there is a book about it called "Bowling Alone". As far as spiritual aspects, I sort of call myself a "Universalist Monk". Being alone spiritually gives oneself a lot of personal freedom, but can involve some social isolation.

So there are pros and cons to it. I like to say that I enjoy my solitude, but dislike my isolation. I think part of why I came to this Message Board was to get a little online socialization going regarding my spirituality. I will always have a sort of solitary practice, I think, but there is no reason not to supplement that with socialization, albeit online socialization here on TC.

PerditaPickle

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Re: Alone
« Reply #8 on: December 17, 2018, 02:55:28 pm »
So, my final conclusion is that it is 'knowledge' that puts a person into the 'alone' category.

Whilst I agree that knowledge can put a person into the 'alone' category on some occasions, I don't believe that it occurs automatically with developing one's knowledge.

All spaniels are dogs but not all dogs are spaniels.

If I hadn't started seeking knowledge of pagan paths, I wouldn't have any IRL pagan companions, where as it is I have a growing number of them.

Maybe this isn't precisely what you're talking about, but my view from my own experience is that it is possible to seek knowledge and still have community.

As to the OP, my path as it stands doesn't really specifically have anything to say about being alone, but I hope the above thoughts are of some interest anyway.
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PerditaPickle

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Re: Alone
« Reply #9 on: December 17, 2018, 03:01:00 pm »
For me, there's a constant dynamic tension between the need to be alone and to engage with others.

Again I suspect this isn't exactly what you were talking about, but I've always felt something similar (I definitely need time alone to recharge my 'batteries', but too much of it eventually leaves me craving company) - still trying to master the balancing act, though to be honest these days it's largely dictated by the amount of available 'spoons', or lack thereof.
"Everything's made up of elements, right? Earth, Water, Air, Fire and... sunnink. Well-known fact. Everything's got 'em all mixed up just right."
Character Nobby Nobbs in the late, great Sir Terry Pratchett's Discworld novel The Truth

Sefiru

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Re: Alone
« Reply #10 on: December 17, 2018, 07:48:59 pm »
So, my final conclusion is that it is 'knowledge' that puts a person into the 'alone' category.   As an example there are many pagans that have gotten into problems with their families because they gained knowledge that informed him or her that the religious belief system they grew up with is faulty.  Families don't like to hear this.  So the 'pagan' finds her/himself 'alone' outside the circle.  Knowledge is to blame for this.  But then the pagan finds a group of like minds but continues to gain knowledge and realizes that the belief system of the new found group is faulty - again he or she is outside the circle and 'alone'.

What you're describing is not "knowledge" but "rejection". The first does not automatically lead to the second. And there are other ways to be or become alone than by rejection.

For myself, I'm fairly introverted and social contact is something I tolerate rather than seek out. My spiritual practice is completely solitary. I think the following video might be apropos:


raya

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Re: Alone
« Reply #11 on: December 18, 2018, 12:07:56 am »
What you're describing is not "knowledge" but "rejection". The first does not automatically lead to the second. And there are other ways to be or become alone than by rejection.

For myself, I'm fairly introverted and social contact is something I tolerate rather than seek out. My spiritual practice is completely solitary. I think the following video might be apropos:


Hello Sefiru- I think that somehow the term 'alone' has gotten a bit confused.  Example:  A person can be alone in a crowded room.  No one to 'talk' to that understands what a person is talking about. You may know of witches/pagans who grew up in religious families who were still accepted by them when the path of the one turned.  They would be the lucky ones.  I only know of those who were cast out or left of his/her own accord after gaining knowledge.  Now I'm not sure what the original poster meant - what kind of 'alone' was being talked about???


(Last edited by Morag to remove huge trailing white space.)
« Last Edit: December 18, 2018, 03:36:50 am by Morag »

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Re: Alone
« Reply #12 on: December 18, 2018, 07:40:39 pm »
A person can be alone in a crowded room.  No one to 'talk' to that understands what a person is talking about.

It's the nature of crowds to be anonymous. I don't know where you live or if you've ever spent time in large cities - but there's just something about crowds. Sure, no one around you understands your state of mind but you don't understand theirs either; all of you are individuals but also particles in the animate fluid that is a crowd. (Apparently, crowds behave enough like liquids that fluid dynamics can be applied to designing public spaces.)

On the flip side, there are many ways of making a connection with someone that don't require matching sets of knowledge, or even sharing a language. I've had tiny friendships that lasted five minutes with people whose names I never learned, but that I still remember years later.

Quote
I only know of those who were cast out or left of his/her own accord after gaining knowledge.

Well, let me be your counter-example then, as I did neither of those things. Sure, I may know far more about Paganism and religion in general than my family, but so what? I also have the most formal education in my family, but that's no reason to cut ties with them.

Also, it's not like 'knowledge' is some kind of singular, linear scale. I might know more about religion, but my father knows more than me about electrical engineering, my brother knows more about computers, and my mother is more organised than me. None of that stops us from talking to each other.

Earlier you said: 

there are many pagans that have gotten into problems with their families because they gained knowledge that informed him or her that the religious belief system they grew up with is faulty.
<snip>
But then the pagan finds a group of like minds but continues to gain knowledge and realizes that the belief system of the new found group is faulty

(bolding mine) It's not like there's some hierarchy of religious knowledge where some faiths are 'more correct' than others. While knowledge might not be a cause of isolation, believing oneself to be superior and looking down on others definitely is a cause.

Quote
what kind of 'alone' was being talked about???

Why not talk about all of them? There's room for comparison. I rather like being alone in a crowd, as well as living alone and being alone in the woods.

arete

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Re: Alone
« Reply #13 on: January 14, 2019, 03:32:29 pm »
Urban living, modern technology, and trends in relationships and families mean that more and more of us live alone and sometimes in isolation, especially as we age. Recent studies suggest that being alone can be as bad for human health as smoking or lack of exercise.

What if anything does your religion say about being alone? Is it considered a positive, a negative, it depends, or does it offer no judgment? Does it provide any advice or examples of how to live alone successfully?
A happy person is one who chooses his/her friends. I'd rather live and die alone rather than associate people I despise.

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