aching void in the center of our beings,
a deep longing to love and be loved,
to be fully known and accepted by at least one other person.
It is a hollow, haunting sound sweeping thru our depths,
chilling our bones and causing us to shiver.
Is there a
who has never felt the stab of loneliness,
who has never experienced the eerie distance of isolation and separation,
who has never suffered the pain of rejection or the loss of love?
or breakdown of a valued loving relationship,
the sudden death of someone who was close and special,
an unavoidable separation from a loved one
—these things strike loneliness into our hearts,
the intense experience of the absence of that specific person.
has no name attached.
This is the general feeling of being alone, isolated, separated from others.
And there is a
third kind of loneliness—existential loneliness—
which is even deeper and more pervasive than either of the first two.
It often disguises itself as longing for a specific person
or pretends to be yearning for contact with anyone,
but this deeper lack or emptiness-of-being
is not really a kind of loneliness at all.
Being together with other people, even people we intensely love,
does not overcome this deep incompleteness of being.
This inner default of selfhood has never been solved by love,
no matter how good and close and warm that love might be.
a Specific Person.
2. Loneliness for Other People in General.
3. Existential Loneliness.
I. Five Differences between
Interpersonal Loneliness and Existential Loneliness
II. How Does it Feel to be Existentially Lonely?
III. Attempting to Cope with Existential Loneliness
IV. The Authentic Response to Existential Loneliness
V. Beyond Existential Loneliness
James Park is
This presentation is based on the first chapter of his longest book:
Our Existential Predicament: Loneliness, Depression, Anxiety, & Death,
Chapter 1 "Existential Loneliness".
of this chapter is available free of charge here:
"Interpersonal Loneliness & Spiritual Loneliness",
which is the first chapter of his small book
Opening to Grace: Transcending Our Spiritual Malaise.
An even shorter
version (just three pages) will be found here:
"Loneliness of Spirit: Deeper than the Reach of Love"
Return to Top 40 Sermon Subjects by James Park.
Return to UNITARIAN-UNIVERSALISM PAGE.
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of this home page:
An Existential Philosopher's Museum.