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Is There Anywhere to Go To?

Once I was asked this question: Do you think it's possible that there isn't anywhere to go, and that you and I and other intelligent people have restless minds and invent this search for truth and 'spiritual' fulfillment? Could it be lack of contentment that drives you and others to such pursuits and beliefs? Here is my answer:

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To begin with, we all have 'somewhere to go' in a sense, which could be translated as 'how do you live?'. Do you get up in the morning? I assume you do. Why? Whatever it is that makes you get up (the need to do your job, make breakfast, seize the day, go to the bathroom) means that you have to make decisions how you live.

You and I and countless others have discovered that these decisions as to how we live during each day make a difference. This ranges from the trivial (do I drink my tea now and put off the awkward phone call; or do I make the call, drink my tea later when it is colder, enjoy it less, but no longer have the anxiety of the phone call on my mind?) to the much more important: do I approach my awkward neighbour with fear, anger and paranoid strategies to get my way at any cost; or do I approach with openness and friendship and try to resolve our differences so that we all win and there are good vibes all round? And if I can see intellectually that the latter is better, how do I actually become friendly and open when my stomach is tensed with apprehension, even hate?

These are the questions that to me are important. I find that I cannot think myself into relaxation, compassion, loving kindness etc. But I can introspect in such a way (meditate, if you will) that I get a certain insight into my nature, and can relax and allow stress to drop from me, and as a result am a happier and more relaxed person, more loving, and generally life is better - both for me and those around me.

When you say we have 'restless minds' that is a fact; is it not important to decide how to deal with this fact? There are several strategies available, ranging from ignoring the fact, not caring and letting yourself do anything you want with no control, trying to discipline yourself (give up immediate pleasures for a later benefit), to working with it, surfing it in a sense, and learning from it so that you can see into its nature more.

I agree with you completely about the 'search for truth and spiritual fulfillment' - the words truth and spiritual I find unhelpful, I can't define them, and I certainly don't want to invent a search for them, given that I don't know what they are.

But there is somewhere to go, in the sense I mean it above. Not outwardly (although of course I do go out, and move about!) but within myself, and you could say where I have to go is just to where I already am, but this is sophistry, since spatial metaphors break down here.

As to your final sentence: Does 'lack of contentment' drive me to this pursuit? Yes, in part. Does it drive me to beliefs? No, never. Beliefs not needed!

To sum up my response: we are all doing things, taking actions, both physical and mental. My 'going somewhere' phrase simply means investigating these phenomena of an active mind and an active body intelligently, and trying to act and think more skillfully in my life.

Maybe this does end up basking in the sun, smelling the roses, and accepting what is. If I have a particularly active mind that wants to take the long way round to understand this, then that is my perogative!

[Return to list of articles]    [next article] Last revised Jan 15 2004

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