You must make a distinction between two words: lonely and alone….OSHO
You must make a distinction between two words: lonely and alone. In the dictionary they carry the same meaning, but those who have been meditating, they know the distinction. They are not the same, they are as different as possible.
Loneliness is an ugly thing; loneliness is a depressive thing — it is a sadness; it is an absence of the other. Loneliness is the absence of the other — you would like the other to be there, but the other is not, and you feel that and you miss them. YOU are not there in loneliness, the absence of the other is there. Alone? — it is totally different. YOU are there, it is your presence; it is a positive phenomenon. You don't miss the other, you meet yourself.
Then you are alone, alone like a peak, tremendously beautiful! Sometimes you even feel a terror — but it has a beauty. But the presence is the basic thing: you are present to yourself. You are not lonely, you are with yourself. Alone, you are not lonely, you are with yourself. Lonely, you are simply lonely — there is no one. You are not with yourself and you are missing the other. Loneliness is negative, an absence; aloneness is positive, a presence.
If you are alone, you grow, because there is space to grow — nobody else to hamper, nobody else to obstruct, nobody else to create more complex problems. Alone you grow, and as much as you want to grow you can grow because there is no limit, and you are happy being with yourself, and a bliss arises. There is no comparison: because the other is not there you are neither beautiful nor ugly, neither rich nor poor, neither this nor that, neither white nor black, neither man nor woman. Alone, how can you be a woman or a man? Lonely, you are a woman or a man, because the other is missing. Alone, you are no one, empty, empty of the other completely.
And remember, when the other is not, the ego cannot exist: it exists with the other. Either present or absent, the other is needed for ego. To feel 'I' the other is needed, a boundary of the other. Fenced from the neighbors I feel 'I'. When there is no neighbor, no fencing, how can you feel 'I'? You will be there, but without any ego. The ego is a relationship, it exists only in relationship.
Alone the master lived — a hermit means alone — on a mountain, facing himself, meeting himself at every corner. Wherever he moves he is encountering himself — not burdened with the other, so knowing well what he is, who he is.