[S]olitude and privacy are not just privileges. They are also compensations. People didn’t have modern selves in traditional society, but they didn’t need them, because they had family and community: extended families, face-to-face communities. They had an intricate structure of relationships, traditions, roles, and expectations to give content to their lives and direction to their efforts, to orient themselves in space and time. They didn’t need to go it alone or make up the world for themselves, so they didn’t need the equipment that enables modern individuals (if they’re lucky) to do so.
Now all we have is ourselves. The modern self is a consolation prize; it’s what we have to cling to—that and friendship, modernity’s central relationship. Intimacy is also a modern phenomenon, because it rests on privacy. When E. M. Forster said “Only connect,” he didn’t mean that’s all we need to do; he meant that’s all we could do: forge our horizontal bonds, because the roots are gone.
William Deresiewicz on the loss of solitude and privacy. Also see how the invention of walls redefined the modern conception of privacy.
One who wishes to gain omniscience swiftly must strive in three things: in compassion, in the thought of enlightenment, and in meditation. Practice compassion from the very outset, for we know that compassion alone is the foundation of all the qualities of Buddhahood. As we read in the teachings:
“A bodhisattva should not practice too many things at once, for if a bodhisattva can master and truly understand just one thing, then she would hold all the qualities of Buddhahood in the palm of her hand. And what is this one thing? It is great compassion. What is the beginning of a bodhisattva’s practice, and what is its abode? Great compassion is the beginning of a bodhisattva’s practice, and it abides among living beings.”
Thus a bodhisattva is impelled only by a desire to help others, with no regard for himself: and he sets out upon a long and arduous path, ever exerting himself to acquire merit and knowledge. As we read in the teachings: “When one’s compassion aims to bring all beings to maturity, there is no happiness at all which one will not renounce.”