What’s the point of it all ?

What’s the point of it all ?

What’s the point ? What’s life and experience all about ? What’s it all for ?

These questions – or something like them – need to form the basis of any serious metaphysical inquiry. And if the metaphysical inquiry is to turn into a genuine metaphysical quest, you have to find a way to formulate these questions in such a way that they mean something to you directly. They have to become your questions, in a very immediate and meaningful sense.

And the strength of your questioning should never be weakened by a sense of self-satisfaction or achievement; questioning should always be invoked as the great destroyer of self-delusion. You can even ask ‘What’s the point of asking what’s the point ?’ to bring the mind to the position where it cannot supply any more comforting imagery, and finds itself lost and defeated. The questions beg for an answer, but none is forthcoming. Why ? Why do you find yourself on a precipice, with nothing to hold on to ? Look at that situation, and ask yourself, what’s going on ? What the hell is going on ? Look again, keep looking at where you are. Perhaps it might feel as if you can’t seem to find yourself, and you get lost in a kind of confusion. Why ? Why can’t you find yourself ? Which bit of you is lost ? What does all this mean, exactly ? What’s it all about ? What is the precise situation, in all its nakedness ? You can’t even seem to grasp the mystery in one go. But stay there, and learn to see the mystery for what it is. Don’t impose ideas on it, just learn to look at it.

Asking ‘what’s it all about ?’ should not be treated as an intellectual puzzle, to be flirted with and then turned into a religious justification; it should be seen for what it is: the basic existential enigma. If you can’t answer the question one way or the other, don’t clutch at comforting imagery, just accept the cruelty and absurdity of your situation, and try again to find an answer. Keep trying. Don’t pretend to know if you don’t know. If you don’t know, simply acknowledge the fact, and try to find a way out. Try to find a means by which you could know for yourself, rather than have to believe. It may take years. It may seem impossible. Maybe it is impossible, and you are doomed to a condition of confusion and ignorance, for all eternity. Or are you ? You most likely have an intuition that there could be an answer, but you don’t know how to turn your vague intuition into something more substantial. But don’t let yourself down by clutching at religious imagery, just think for yourself. Look for yourself. Struggle for yourself, by yourself. What do you find, when you push yourself to the end of the road ? What’s waiting there ? Something, or nothing ? You have to find it for yourself. And keep what you find a secret.

Why ? What’s the point of all this ?

Keep going, on your own. When you get far enough down the road, you can see for yourself that no one else would be interested in your secret discovery. You’ll have to complete the final stretch on your own.

Says who ? How can you be sure about any of this ? Is there a way to find out ? Is there a way to know for sure, rather than always feeling uncertain, and having to believe what other people tell you ?

The Buddhist quest is all about finding out, and negotiating these strange features of experience for yourself, directly, without intermediary. The Buddha – and others – have said that there is a way out, but until you find it for yourself, you will never know if they were telling the truth. Don’t give up just because it seems impossible to begin with. You can do it.