“The Need to be Alone”

In a brief talk to students entitled “The Need to be Alone,” Jiddu Krishnamurti reflected on the impulse not to be alone.

Is it not a very strange thing in this world, where there is so much distraction, entertainment, that almost everyone is a spectator. … There is a constant demand to be amused, to be entertained, to be taken away from ourselves. We are aftraid to be alone. …

Very few of us ever walk in the fields and the woods, just walking quietly and observing things about us and within ourselves.

Krishnamurti reflects on the many forms of distractions: novels, radio, television, cinema, but also disparate things like household duties and our jobs, all taken as chores that function to distract ourselves, to keep us from reflecting, deeply upon what we are and who we are.

Society has created an “enormous structure of professional amusement so prominent a part of what we call civilization.” All of this structure has the purpose of keeping us distracted from asking questions, from probing into meaning and purpose — of te structures themselves and of ourselves. Modern people are made to feel a loneliness and alienation if they are not conforming to these vast structures, if they feel themselves unable to bear even a moment of aloneness.

Yet there is a need to be alone if we are ever to understand anything about ourselves or the things around us.