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Exploring loss via personal experience

Hi everyone! :slight_smile:

The upheaval of loss recently touched me, is still with me.

A 30-year-long best friend, soul brother, suddenly and without any precipitating incident or explanation, effectively cancelled me: no responses to emails, texts, phone calls. I know from mutual friends he is alive and well, so he obviously made a decision to shut me completely out of his life.

I’ve been observing my reaction to this situation since it began a few months ago. I’ve been through enough therapy to be able to see things quite clearly from the psychotherapeutic point of view. But I’d like to add a Krishnamurtian pov to my understanding.

What is going on in me with respect to this quite profound loss? By extension, what goes on in all of us humans when we lose something we love and are psychologically attached to?

Loss. It’s huge, right? And inevitable. What is it?

Not looking for sympathy or psychotherapeutic analysis, have plenty of both. Interested in how Krishnamurti might have seen and understood the situation.


Remaining with sorrow…

“You must have, unfortunately had some kind of sorrow. Without analysing, without escaping from it, without rationalising it, without putting it into a test tube, or reducing it to some chemical response, can you look at it, observe it, remain with it completely - whether it is physical pain, or psychological grief , to remain with it totally without any movement of shadow of escape, which means actually giving all your energy and attention to it. Because at the moment of sorrow you are that sorrow. It is not that you are sorrowful, your whole being is sorrow. I do not know if you understand this. There is no fear apart from you. You are part of fear. You are part of all the factors of fear. So you are all the factors that go to bring about this sorrow which mankind has carried throughout the ages. There is not only the personal sorrow, but also this sorrow of mankind. There is not the momentary sorrow of a person, but the global sorrow: the sorrow of ignorance, sorrow of poverty, the sorrows that war has brought about, the tears, the anxieties, the brutality of all that. Look at all that. To be completely, totally in contact with it, then since you give, in that contact there is this total energy.”
K, Public Talk 5, Ojai, 16 May 1981

To remain with sorrow, one sees terrible tragedies, terrible sorrow in the world - you all are most likely aware of what is happening in Afghanistan. Even here in B.C., the tragedy of the murder of residential school children who had been in the care of various organized religious organizations - when there is the seeing of those things on television, there are tears that run down my cheek - that is what K meant by remaining with sorrow. One does not feel sorrow, because the “me” is no longer there. So, one doesn’t suffer from all that. So, in the instance of seeing such tragedy, one is the sorrow of all humans who suffer. Then, there is nothing, no thoughts about it, and there is everything.

Beautiful response, thank you.

Though it is in some way my sorrow, in an equally valid and perhaps more powerful way it is the sorrow of mankind that I am feeling, perhaps the sorrow of all of existence. I forgot that, of course, the bigger picture, in the midst of my own personal pain.

You don’t know that. All you know is that he has made no response to your emails, texts and phone calls.

Yes, this is all I know with certainty. Rather than feeling the sheer pain of loss, or at least of sudden and unexpected change, I escape to speculation and storytelling-drama.

I lost an old friend like that. Walking in the woods feeling betrayed, I would go over events and try to justify myself…listen to the hurt, the stories, remain with that.

Is it the feeling of betrayal? Shock at how swiftly one’s affection and support can turn to rejection and opposition or indifference on the basis of a belief or misinformation?

It makes you realize how little was there if it could be so easily erased, diminished, removed or replaced. It makes you realize how much value and importance you give to something so ephemeral and subject to change or destruction. It makes you wonder if there’s much more to you than sentiment and security-seeking.

I did a lot of that for a while, was really surprised by some of what came up!

Yes, like a heat-seeking missile for security, comfort, pleasure. And yet some genuine form of love and connection manages to emerge, almost as a random epiphenomenon, a side effect of story making and believing.

But it is not the pain of loss that you are escaping from. The real pain has always been there, which is the pain of relationship. It has only become apparent to you as pain now that the relationship has appeared to change and move away from what you thought you had, from the image you held of what it means to be a best friend or a soul brother or whatever else you want to call it. But the pain has always been there.

Outside of a few little bumps along the way, the friendship was (for me) always quite delightful.

You might say that the fear of eventual death (ending) is inherent in any relationship, that it is a source of low-level pain, a sense of not-rightness, koyaanisqatsi.

Or: Relationship requires separation. You can’t be related to what you are, it doesn’t make sense. And separation causes pain.

So how does the pain of the situation manifest?

Sometimes there is a sudden pang of missing or sorrow or anger. These are usually short, intense, and infrequent, blips on my internal psychological radar that appear, remain around for a while, then vanish. Quite bearable, especially if I surrender to them for what they are, rather than resisting or exaggerating.

Deeper, darker, more mysterious and insidious is the ‘stage’ set from thinking: “I’ve been betrayed!” Or: “There will never be another friend like him!” Or: “What did I do to deserve this?!” Pronouncements and beliefs like this create a field of pain and hurt and anger that persists, like a drone.

The occasional bursts of pain/anger are very manageable. The drone is more debilitating, since it seeps into everything.

What happens when it’s realized that the pain of loss I’m feeling is the same pain felt by everyone? This is a human sensation. It’s the same with the thinking taking place, it’s the same thinking everyone goes through. The circumstances are different but the pain and thoughts are the same. The ‘illusion’of my being an ‘individual’ makes it seem that I am alone and separate in all this. Suffering is universal.

Strange to realize that you are not the ‘author’ of the thoughts that are appearing. That the thinking process doesn’t need a ‘thinker’.

Love. The felt sense of shared being.

Is my brain – in cahoots with my body and other brains-bodies – the author of my thoughts? Is thinking a collaborative experience?

That’s the source of any pain: the delight and the pleasure in relationship. But it seems that we only start to look at our relationships once the pleasure has been turned off. So the roots of our pain in relationship are conveniently ignored.

I suggested two ways in which pain inheres in relationships:

The fear of the eventual end of the relationship is a source of low-level not-rightness and pain.
Relationship is built on separation, two entities, and separation causes pain.

Do these sound right to you? How do you see pain emerging from relationship?

All pain is directly related to pleasure. After all, we accept flattery fairly easily, whereas we almost instantly reject criticism. So while we may focus on the criticism and the pain we have felt, the pleasure doesn’t seem to register as a psychological event.

If pleasure is the opposite of pain, the flip side of the same coin, then they are inextricably linked. If pleasure is its own thing, independent of pain, it’s a different story.

Pleasure seems to flow through, except for when we try to hold onto it. Pain sometimes flows through, but is more inclined than pleasure, I think, to get stuck. We won’t let go of it until … until … until … time heals (whatever that means on a neurological/psychological level), or we get a deeper understanding of what is happening, or we get some form of revenge.

In terms of my situation with the (ex?)friend, time and psychospiritual work are flushing out the pain.

Which is still a movement of pleasure. Dealing with pain is still all about pleasure, about finding a sense of resolution and equanimity to replace the unpleasant feelings connected to a relationship. But what we really need to find out is whether or not there is any possibility of a relationship with another human being that is never caught in this limited field of pain and pleasure. It is a far more important question than just trying to assuage one’s hurts and anxieties because it is no longer about our personal experience.


Finding resolution and peace with a situation that has caused me pain is a step I can take, a goal that is reachable. A relationship not “caught in this limited field of pain and pleasure” is a step beyond. I don’t know if such a thing is possible. If it is, I don’t know if I want it – the resolution and the peace that come from healing are beautiful and powerful.

I’ve decided not to explore pain/pleasure with you in this thread, it’s too important to be a subtopic here. So I’m opening a new thread and invite you to participate there. Cheers!

But I hope we still can continue this conversation about loss here, it’s illuminating.