STUDENT: I'd like to ask a question about loneliness and love. In my experience, the kind of love where two people try to be together in order to protect themselves from loneliness hasn't worked out too well. When you come in contact with the loneliness, it seems to destroy a lot of things that you try to pull off in trying to build up security. But can there be love between two people while they continue to work with the loneliness?
TRUNGPA RINPOCHE: That's an interesting question. I don't think anybody can fall in love unless they feel lonely. People can't fall in love unless they know they are lonely and are separate individuals. If by some strange misunderstanding, you think you are the other person already, then there's no one for you to fall in love with. It doesn't work that way. The whole idea of union is that of two being together. One and one together make union. Zero is not union, one is not union, but two is union. So I think in love it is the desolateness that inspires the warmth. The more you feel a sense of desolation, the more warmth you feel at the same time. You can't feel the warmth of a house unless it's cold outside. The colder it is outside, the cozier it is at home.
S: What would be the difference between the relationship between lovers and the general relationship you have with the sangha as a whole, which is a whole bunch of people feeling desolateness to different degrees?
TR: The two people have a similarity in their type of loneliness. One particular person reminds another more of his or her own loneliness. You feel that your partner, in seeing you, feels more lonely. Whereas with the sangha, it's more a matter of equal shares. There's all-pervasive loneliness, ubiquitous loneliness, happening all over the place.
STUDENT: Would you say that loneliness is love?
TRUNGPA RINPOCHE: I think we could say that.
STUDENT: You've indicated that as we got into this loneliness, there would be a lot of wretchedness as well. Now I'm wondering how compassion fits into this picture. How does one practice compassion with that loneliness?
TRUNGPA RINPOCHE: I think loneliness brings a sense of compassion automatically. According to the Buddhist scriptures, compassion consists of shunyata,
nothingness, and knowledge, prajna.
So that means the ingredients of compassion are the experience of nonego and a sense of precision, which is often also called skillful means. You can't have compassion unless you have egolessness and the sense of precision at the same time. The sense of egolessness, obviously, comes with loneliness and at the same time seeing through oneself, so that everything's been examined and looked at. That becomes compassion. That's unconditional love, unconditional loneliness. Then even after you've reached that point, the loneliness principle goes on. But then you are not lonely anymore; it becomes aloneness as opposed to loneliness, which brings a sense of space.