A. The aloneness of a retreat from time to time is essential for those going for refuge, for it is at times like these that we have the opportunity to get to know and understand ourselves to a degree not possible in our ordinary everyday lives. All Dharma practice is focused directly or indirectly on the human existential truth of loneliness, caused by the sense of separateness from what is.

When we are alone we can open up to that greatest of all fears whilst in its grip, and see directly into it. Here we may discover that if we learn to open and stay with loneliness, we will see it for what it is and learn to accept and make friends with it. Whilst on this journey of transformation we may come to see that everything that we have ever done in our lives is just a deep sub-conscious search by our own heart, bound by delusion, to be reunited with the totality of what is. Our onward journey into understanding loneliness need not exclude companion-type relationships, for this sort of experience may well show us just how lonely we basically are, and how difficult it is to live with and accept that truth.