Is there a point to all this?

A few days ago, I came across a newspaper article discussing how, in recent years, sales of self-help/spirituality/mindfulness books have burgeoned in the UK. Given the present state of this country – and a few others around the world – it’s hardly surprising. People are looking for something – something they sense should be part of their lives and isn’t; something which – who knows? – they may once have had but have now lost. And whatever it is, there is a belief that, in a world where things seem to be unraveling and falling apart, it would knit things back together again. Life, after all, should have a point. So often, there hardly seems to be one. Even making money and buying ‘things’ which – if you watch the TV commercials and read the ads in newspapers and on outdoor hoardings, you’d think is the point of most people’s lives – hardly nourishes the soul. And what’s needed is something that does just that.

There was a time when organized religion was the answer – albeit often by dealing in fear. But for increasing numbers now, that just doesn’t work. And science is turning out a soulless substitute. So the emptiness deepens. And the urgency to find that ‘point’ increases. But where do you turn when you don’t really know what it is you’re looking for?

Some years ago, I was invited to a party in rural Sussex – a party given by a university student, mostly for his fellow students but with a few older people such as myself invited along. It was held in his garden on a beautiful summer’s day, with the lovely soft hills of the South Downs as a backdrop. The wine flowed and at some point in the afternoon, one student, a man I’d guess in his very early twenties, collared me and started to bemoan what he saw as the lack of point in the life he was living – a life which, in society’s eyes, was one of some privilege – halfway through his course at one of the ancient universities, with the hope after that of a well-paid career of his choice.

He’d had a few glasses. But what he was saying he clearly felt deeply. “Where,” he asked, “are the elders?” Where are they, those people – older people, experienced in life and with gravitas, whom you’d expect to be around somewhere – to whom, as a young man or woman, you can look for guidance as you step out into the world? In his voice, there was an edge almost of betrayal.

I believe that what he was saying mirrored what the people turning for guidance to the mindfulness/spiritual books are feeling. That something quite fundamental is missing from their lives. And that money, status, possessions, Facebook,  and iPhones are not part of whatever that something is.

A few weeks back, I was watching a nature programme on TV. The presenter kept referring to ‘the natural world’ and ‘nature’ as though it were something that starts only when you step outside your door – something that just sort of – ‘goes on’ out there on its own, needing no help from us. And which is therefore, by implication, separate from us as human beings.

But stop. Take a look at your own self – who or what, at this moment, is controlling your breathing? The beating of your heart? Something is – but it’s not you. Who or what is managing your digestion, the replenishment of the cells of your body, your immune system, the ageing process of your body? All those, and a great many more mind-bogglingly complex things are going on within you, right at this moment, in an exquisitely organized manner and without any contribution whatever from you. And when that final day, whose moment will not be in your gift, comes along, those things will stop – and you won’t have had any input to that either.

We are cyclical. Just like ‘nature’ and ‘the natural world’. The sun rises then sets; and we – broadly speaking – go to bed and rise with it. As the seasons come and go, so do we; we’re born, we live, we fade and die. In fact everything you can possibly think of, is cyclical. Nothing is for ever. The mayfly, the elephant, the mountains, the continents, our very civilizations. The stars, even. All things have their moment, then leave the stage.

We are all participants in a single process. The atoms that comprise us, comprise the stars. What drives the natural world, drives us. Any distinction is one of outward form only. Out to, and beyond the furthest receding galaxies, everything – our own selves included – is one indivisible entity.

OK – intellectually, that is incomprehensible. But that’s part of the problem – humankind’s intellect. It has dominated our society for thousands of years and has little response in the face of the present situation, beyond that of staring at its own reflection. In this matter at least, it has led us down a dusty path to nowhere very much. That is not however, the fault of the intellect; the fault is ours for having paid so little heed to its limits, thus granting it almost total exclusivity.

And now we’re starting to yearn. We want back the heart, the soul, the inner reality of life – that elusive ‘point’. Where to find it? Where to look? That’s the question.

The words of Lao Tsu, writing two thousand years ago – “Stop thinking and end your problems.”

To be continued –


I need to add something to the above. Where I speak of organized religion not doing it now for so many people, I do not include in that, the words, as reported, of Jesus Christ. I believe that if more Christians generally spent their time doing their best to live his message  – a message identical in import to that of the Buddha, Krishna, Lao Tsu and many other sages down the centuries – rather than spending so much time worshiping his person, they would be powerful contributors to a better world.

About besonian

Writer, photographer, film director
This entry was posted in has life a point?, human intellect, Life, love and living, mindfulness, self-help books, spirituality and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Is there a point to all this?

  1. Sue Vincent says:

    We were having this same debate last night, Jeff. Even the loss of the valued elders made it into the conversation. We were questioning the loss of a sense of community and commonality, both with each other and with Nature, that is leaving humanity adrift, creating a
    them and us’ mentality where the natural world is concerned, as if we were not part of it. We even speak of it as something separate from ourselves and we talk of ‘the world’ in human terms only, instead of encompassing the earth as a whole.
    No flower will survive for ong without its roots.

    • besonian says:

      I think your words sum it up well Sue – ‘No flower will survive for long without its roots’. I think it likely however – or at least I hope it’s likely – as I’ve intimated in the piece, that this emptiness will eventually become so debilitating and the need for what’s missing to be rediscovered so urgent that things will gradually change around. This obsession with the mind and the intellect is taking us ever faster towards some sort of dangerous edge – the signs are so clear now.

      • Sue Vincent says:

        I think the first stirrings of this turnaround have been going on for some time, Jeff. Whether either of us will still be around to see it come to fruition is open to debate… but that doesn’t matter. As long as it happens.

  2. Pingback: Is there a point to all this? Reblogged from besonian | Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

  3. besonian says:

    Yes, they have – in my recollection back at least to the mid sixties – and I’m sure a long time before that. Possibly even a few hundred years! And as for whether I – and probably you too – will be around when the turnaround has happened, I doubt. But, like you say – as long as it happens.

    • Sue Vincent says:

      Perhpas it is enough to have been here for a part of the journey and seen the stirrings in the world. Even the worst things that are happening are galvanising change.

      • besonian says:

        I think your second sentence is the ray of hope, Sue. A very large part of the present day conflict and chaos around the world is the reaction of powerful entrenched interests – dictators, warlords, politicians, business leaders etc. – who see their influence and their fiefdoms seriously threatened by the growing movement of peoples of all colours, creeds, classes etc. coming together. To them that’s a nightmare scenario. But I believe they will nevertheless be overwhelmed by that change – which, although it isn’t going to happen overnight, is already well established.

      • Sue Vincent says:

        I too see that as hope in dark times, Jeff. And possibly the ‘dumbing down’ of so much of the media as a way to prevent the spread of thoughtful unity. If so, I don’t think it will work indefinitely… we are beginning to wake up.

  4. willowdot21 says:

    All I want is some peace and happiness…. I do know this comes from within. I try very hard but outside situations and people seem to thwart me… That’s a cop out I suppose.💜

    • besonian says:

      Thank you, willowdot21. I don’t think it’s a cop-out. The way around it is not easy. But the words of Shakespeare – via Hamlet – encapsulate our whole mind-driven dilemma – ‘There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.’ Events in themselves are neutral. It’s our reaction to them which then labels them ‘nice’ or ‘nasty’.

  5. stevetanham says:

    Beautifully expressed. I will read some more of your work, Jeff.

    • besonian says:

      Hi Steve – really sorry to have somehow missed your comment on my blog post – ‘Is there a point to all this?’ I’m often really bad at keeping up with these things. My apologies once again – and thank you for your much appreciated comment.

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