Solitude has a great appeal to anyone. Young or old, poor or rich. Mostly sought after by people who seek solace in isolation, especially after a tirade of stressful situations haunted their lives for a sustained stretch of time. But as usual, a misunderstood term, slightly twisted to suit one's convenience. It is popularly considered as the 'left alone' situation. Some kind of self imposed exile to heal the hurts of the heart and soul. This ekaantam certainly is not a 'please-leave-me-alone' situation or walking and singing across jungles, mountains and meadows, by the hero alone by himself in the mushy mushy indian movies, after everyone cheated him despite his honesty.
The word solitude in english is the most vague translation for ekaantam.Surely, the solitude helps to provide some solution to heal but cannot dissolve the problem. Nevertheless, what begins as isolation, should slowly dawn on the seeker's mind that to cut off from the world and to remain in isolation is not the way to spiritual fulfillment.
Traditionally, the seeker of truth and self awareness is left alone to contemplate in a ashram or a monastery. But strange enough, he never is left alone despite his physical isolation. Though one physically retreated from life and people, in the name of solitude, still he would come face to face with the mental constructions of the world, people and various situations. Never it is possible for one to keep the mind totally independent of thoughts about the disturbing people or nagging situations.
Disciple : Can I find truth in being alone without anyone?
Master : Yes, till someone comes to meet you !
Disciple : What can I call that experience in being aloof?
Master : Escape !!!
But the solitude that provides a brief relief from grief and from being physically faced with the stressful circumstances is not real ekaantam. If one is settled just for this relief, then the more real ekaantam will be missed out.
Eka = One
Antam = Conclude
Ekaantam = Conclusively One
Ekaantam in the spiritual sense is Aloneness. Its neither isolation nor loneliness. Aloneness here means feeling alone while being surrounded by the world. Again its not being indifferent to the people around but feeling a sense of Oneness with everything you see around you.Only two makes a company and three makes a crowd, but One remains always alone. This Oneness can also be called as advaita(one without a second). This Oneness makes you feel alone even while you deal with life all the time. alone with everyone.To find solitude in a solitary place is not great, but to find it in a crowded shopping mall is in deed and experience, truly great !
But how can one see aloneness everywhere? That's whats spirituality is all about. If you see the physical bodies of human beings, then you will see many many of them. Then either you have company or alone. If you see the mind 0f human beings as mind, still you will be lost in the crowd of many different minds. But if you see the inherent collective consciousness of people everywhere, then you would begin to get the taste of aloneness.
Disciple: I want to be left alone !
Master : Sure, then go to the market and buy vegetables now !
Disciple : That, for god's sake, is not being alone !
Master : If you cannot see All those people in the market as One then you are not going to be alone at all.
Disciple: Please explain !
Master : All + One = Alone !
Solitude experienced while being surrounded by people alone is truly solitude. But that does not mean you cannot choose to stay away from the crowds and still remain in the truth.