It was an amazing piece of positive news that came recently from the UK that the British government had appointed a “Minister for Loneliness.” This news created a certain amount of wonder, though some people ridiculed it also. Stephen Colbert, on his TV show in the USA, said:“This is so British. They’ve defined the most ineffable human problem and come up with the most cold, bureaucratic solution.”
Loneliness in the modern world of instant connectivity is a totally paradoxical problem and is certainly a matter of concern. It is a good thing if the governments of the world also become sensitive and help people to deal with it. Inspired by Bhutan, a Ministry of Happiness was created in July 2016 to ensure happiness in the lives of the common people on the lines of the neighbouring country. Ministry of Happiness is a positive name while Loneliness is a negative name. A positive approach is better because it suggests dealing with not just loneliness but several other killers like anxiety and anguish, sadness and stress, despair and depression. The Ministry of Happiness can search for intelligent people from various fields, such as philosophy and psychology, art and culture, yoga and meditation, and science and spirituality.
But the Indian situation is very different from the situation in the Western countries. The West has reached a certain level of affluence while India has to deal with the basic problems of food, cloth, and shelter. Only after this is solved, the people will need something more to be happy in their lives. As Goswami Tulsidas, the great author of Ramayana wrote: “Bhukhe Bhajan Nahi Hoi Gopala” (God is not remembered on empty stomach).
Today’s scenario is that India is also on the path of becoming more and more affluent and less and happy. The problems of loneliness and depression are also creeping into the psyche of this supposedly spiritual country. India needs to wake up and find solutions urgently for the vast population that we are blessed with. It is already turning out to be a curse.
Osho’s message is good for both India and the rest of the world: We need to learn the art of transforming loneliness into aloneness. He says: Loneliness is misunderstood as aloneness. Aloneness has a beauty and grandeur, a positivity; loneliness is poor, negative, dark, dismal. He says: The capacity to be alone is the capacity to love. It may look paradoxical to you, but it’s not. It is an existential truth: only those people who are capable of being alone are capable of love, of sharing, of going into the deepest core of another person–without possessing the other, without becoming dependent on the other, without reducing the other to a thing, and without becoming addicted to the other. They allow the other absolute freedom because they know that if the other leaves, they will be as happy as they are now. Their happiness cannot be taken by the other, because it is not given by the other.