People are lonely. Loneliness is a part of the human existence. I have never seen a person who is not lonely. I see that celebrities who live on popularity are more afflicted with loneliness. People who live on popularity have fear because of the fact that they might be abandoned or be forgotten. Loneliness is painful. Loneliness is a sense of alienation. Loneliness is a fear of the inner heart.
Many people are on their smartphones for hours because of the fear of loneliness. They check text messages, Kakao Talk, or emails frequently. They go on Facebook. They also wait impatiently for a reply whether it's a text message or Kakao Talk. They do these things because they are lonely. They feel restless if the reply is delayed. Sometimes they feel abandoned and forgotten. Why are we so lonely and insecure? Because our inner being is empty. Because we live being overly dependent on other people, rather than being self-sufficient. That is why spiritual fathers tell us to enter into ‘solitude’ over ‘loneliness’.
The boundary between loneliness and solitude is ambiguous. The world of solitude is deeper than that of loneliness. Solitude is a world of a slightly higher dimension. Solitude is the inner world that we experience when we enter into a deeper place, surpassing the pain of loneliness. Spiritual fathers love solitude. The do not run away from solitude, but they go in and enjoy the solitude. Solitude is “being alone.” It is not just being alone, but ‘being alone dwelling in the Word.' It is ‘being alone dwelling in the presence of God.’ It is ‘being alone dwelling in the true ego’, not false ego.
While loneliness means being alone, but has a negative connotation, solitude has the same meaning but a positive connotation. Mysteriously, writers constantly praise solitude. They write about solitude. I love solitude as well. The reason that I love solitude is that solitude helps me to write. For me, I can write well with the heart of solitude rather than with the busy and restless heart. The writing that touches the hearts of people is produced from solitude. I enter into solitude in order to write well. I also often cultivate a heart of solitude in order to write with depth.
There is a deep solitude among all types of solitude. We must surpass the river of loneliness in order to enter into deep solitude. We must overcome the pain of loneliness. We can taste deep solitude once we enter into deep solitude. We can enter into the holy place of God in our inner being when we enter into deep solitude. We worship God there. And we drink the deep living water that flows out of the deep holy place of God.
I love the world of depth. That does not mean that I am a very deep-rooted person. I am forever a beginner in the pursuit of the world of depth. I once tasted the depth that that world of depth offers. There is depth in writing there. There is depth in taste. There is the depth of a person. And there is the deep world of faith. In the midst of solitude, we encounter God who is the source of depth. We encounter the Holy Spirit who searches the deep things of God. (1Co 2:10)
Through solitude we enter into the inner world. We experience wonderful transformation once we turn our eyes from the outside and start looking into the inside. Carl Jung said, “Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” People find a deep enlightenment when they look into their own inner side. Those who find the deep enlightenment can lead others to deep enlightenment.
The Bible encourages us to adorn our inner self. (1Pe 3:3-4) Deep solitude means the solitude of inner being. Thomas Merton said, “There is no true solitude, except interior solitude.” Our thoughts, meditation, language, and character are ripened in deep solitude. Our relationship becomes more intimate in deep solitude. The one who can dwell in the presence of God alone can have intimate relationship with others. Do not be afraid of entering into deep solitude. Deep solitude nurtures our soul.
Reverend Joshua Choon-Min Kang is the senior pastor of New Life Vision Church, located in Los Angeles. This is one of the weekly letters he writes to his congregation. For the original, visit www.nlvc.org.