The question seems to presume we are something apart from the universe, being small people here on this little space rock, with the rest of the apparently empty universe out there. But maybe there is a better way to look at it. Perhaps we are not alone in the universe because we never were separate from it or each other to begin with.
I recently remembered this quote by Carl Sagan in Contact which seems to express this feeling of emptiness, but also the flip side:
You’re an interesting species. An interesting mix. You’re capable of such beautiful dreams, and such horrible nightmares. You feel so lost, so cut off, so alone, only you’re not. See, in all our searching, the only thing we’ve found that makes the emptiness bearable, is each other.-Carl Sagan, Contact
When we don’t think of ourselves as independent beings down here on Earth, and the rest of it as something “else” up there, but rather that we are all part of a greater Whole, then there can be no sense of loneliness. We are part of all that “out there,” including Mars, Pluto, Saturn, the Sun, the Milky Way, the Andromeda Galaxy, every galaxy, to the furthest reaches of the cosmos. Our bodies are themselves made up of star stuff, the heavier elements like the iron in the hemoglobin of our blood fused in the supernovas of stars in the past, so how can we think we are alone? We are not something “other than” all of that. We are That, made up of That, expressions of That.
Of course, we can ask if there are any other lifeforms like us in the universe besides the life on Earth, living beings that have minds, bodies, metabolisms, nervous systems, reproduction, genetic code, etc. But even if Earth is the only “inhabited” planet in the entire universe, this should not be cause for us to feel lonely. We are a part of that universe, the way the universe is expressing itself here and now. We are all members of that greater Whole, parts of that Body, interconnected manifestations of the Cosmos, the way the “Cosmos is knowing its Self,” as Carl Sagan also said. When we feel this sense of comm-union with the Whole, with all things, all beings, all forms, all perceptions, all parts, it’s impossible to be lonely or alone.
And if we ever do ever find other life “out there,” we will not really be encountering an “other,” but another part of our greater Self, another lifeform that this One Cosmos has produced from its Self, in its Self. They will be part of this greater family of this Uni-verse, birthed from this One. They will be other forms that can be our mirrors, reflecting back to us the life that we ourselves also are. We will reflect each other.
Look around! Are we alone? No. Everything is right here with us, and we are with it, and in a deep sense we are becoming each other, the ebb and flow of nature cycling through us, reflecting itself on the mirrors of consciousness. Every blade of grass, every stream, every flower, every pebble, every star, every planet, every galaxy, every one. We are One with all of this. It is all us. We are not something “other than” the Whole, but are expressions of the Whole. We could not be more accompanied than we are, literally all things being One with us, in company with us, being our companions in this journey of Reality. We all have each other.
There is a reason that the nature mystics such as St. Francis of Assisi felt a deep communion with all of nature, in comm-unity with all the animals, the plants, and the cosmic bodies like the sun and moon and stars. They realized at a deep level that they are not something “other than” those things, but that we are all here together, all incarnations of the One Great Whole.