There is sporting and love in the midst of companions, and abundant fondness for offspring. Feeling disgust at the prospect of parting from those who’d be dear, wander alone like a rhinoceros.“Khaggavisana Sutta: A Rhinoceros” (Sn 1.3), translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Access to Insight (BCBS Edition), 30 November 2013, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/snp/snp.1.03.than.html .
Looking at this verse. It encourages a lifestyle that promotes singlehood.
Majority of people will feel alarmed and label this as anti-family or anti-social. Most people perceive being alone and single as being unhappy.
The way of dealing with the pain of separation seems to be logical but yet unpalatable. Basically, it is saying; If you do not want to feel the pain of separation, then do not be attached.
Most of the suffering or mental stress have a simple solution. Remove craving, aversion and wrong views from our mind. Since it is our own mind, shouldn’t that be a simple task?
However, most of us find ourselves being stuck in our old way of thinking. Our rationale, our habits, our likes and dislikes etc., are “programmed” into us by parents, friends, society, cultures, environments etc., It is so hard to let go and change immediately.
If you look at the verse with an open mind, it is like telling a kid not to play with fire.
How can we benefit from this stanza?
Foremost, I think it is useful when we bravely accept the truth in it. The truth about impermanence of any relationship. Even if one remains friend and family throughout a lifetime, one has to part upon death.
A monk once taught. “When you meet a new friend, immediately reflect that it will end one day.” It may sound depressing. However, if one possesses wisdom, then such reflections remind us to cherish the moment and be prepared to let go at anytime.
It is a skill in maintaining a balanced relationship actually.
Secondly, do not be afraid of having too little companions. It is perfectly fine to simply have only a few friends to share a cup of tea. We do not need to have a crowd and a big party to be happy.
In this case, less is more.
May all be well and happy.