A Meaningful Meaninglessness

I have a question. It’s kind of personal but kind of not.

OK, shoot.

I'm feeling the GP.

The what?

The GP. The “General Pointlessness”.

Ah. (Laughs) I like that. The GP...

It’s not good. It feels, like, kind of empty. A bit heavy. Not exactly a depression, but like "what am I even doing here, on this planet? What's the point of this? Where am I going?" That kind of thing...

It's a good question. Where are we going. What are we doing here. What's the point of all this. (Stays quiet).

Well... any answers? (someone laughs).

It’s interesting that you say that it’s sense of heaviness, at the same time as pointless.

Why is that?

It wouldn't be heavy unless it was meaningful, at least for you. Do you see the contradiction?

Mmm, not really...

There has to be some significance, some meaning to you for it to be heavy. At the very minimum, putting a meaning on a physical sensation you are calling heavy.

Well... maybe, but maybe the heaviness is just a feeling. 

Is it there all the time, day and night, week after week, month after month?


So  it's just a passing feeling, a passing set of sensations and thoughts, then why give it so much significance and meaning? It's just some sensations in your field of perception, in this case, seemingly from the body.

I guess it's more like being bored, and sort of lonely. Like if I had a partner here, it would be different. Or at least some interesting work. Things are kind of boring now with my work.  And I can't even muster enough energy to like, go on a vacation. 

Let's do a thought experiment. Imagine you're marooned on a desert island. There isn't a whole lot there except sand, beach, the grass, some birds, some passing clouds, some crabs and fish, and your little hut, and the fire you keep going, and your fishing gear and other survival equipment. You spend a lot of time scanning the horizon for ships or boats, and the sky for airplanes, but don't see much of anything close enough to make you hopeful about being rescued. The rest of your time is engaged in doing survival stuff, like gathering food and going inland for water, fixing your gear or whatever. A fairly boring physical grind generally, and the only being you have to talk to besides yourself is a stray cat that hangs around and kills the rats in your hut. You write a journal sometimes, but only have time and energy for that in the morning.

Now contrast that with where you are now. You're living in the suburbs, you've got every toy and tool you could want or need – computers and cameras and cars, whatever, as well as friends you could test or call up, or travel and visit if you really wanted to. You have time and freedom and, compared to the desert island man, and have practically unlimited opportunity, and a nice comfortable life. So what's the problem?

Before you answer, let me give another contrasting case. A kid living in the same circumstances in the 'burbs – let's say ten years old – and he finds so many fun things to do that by the end of the day he exhausts himself physically. He's running around and making things, riding his bike, or playing with friends, or with various toys he has or makes. Endless creativity to make up fun things to do... At least when there are no adults telling him he can't do what he's doing, killing his enthusiasm and energy.

Hmm. So what's wrong with me? I don't have any adults telling me what to do, other than a client that often wants things. 

What's wrong with us, that's the question. There's nothing wrong with you. Nothing tangible that is. You have money, housing, food, medicine, a social life when you want it. No real problem. But we as a species have this thorn in our side, this bug up our ass, this devil in the dark, as it were, hiding. He comes out to rob us of happiness, meaning, truth, beauty and love if you will.  Children have a natural happiness and love, and the desert island man has real physical challenges, though he may feel some peace and happiness at times in his glorious solitude and freedom from the craziness of modern life.

So should we go back to living like primitives? Or children?

Obviously not. People have tried that, have romanticized such life, but find it very hard, run into big problems, and in any case, still have to find meaning and happiness somehow. I'm not suggesting that society or modern civilization is the problem, despite the fact that our culture certainly seem to do everything it can to distract one and keep you running around on a treadmill after the next greater thing that will supposedly bring you happiness, even though none of those objects have worked in the past for very long at all – relationships, toys, substances, material acquisitions, activities... and all that chasing after shiny toys is having a detrimental effect on the life on the planet.

What are you saying then. We should seek some kind of inner spiritual solution? 

No, not at all. I am not here to give you a prescription or fix a problem. I am just looking at everything, straight in the face, with you here. Like Socrates, asking a question and making observations. Even the Buddha made observations, such as "there is suffering". How in the hell are you hoping to be happy if you are running away, or not willing to at least look at things?

I've looked at things plenty. I see a lot of shit going on. Just look at the news. It' not making me happy. 

Ah. Now here's the rub. Stop looking at the world. And stop looking at other people. Not as a prescription or practice, but as an observation, like I was talking about. By some quirk of fate, it seems very difficult for humans to look at themselves. And I don't mean introspect or self-analyze, or go over your story. Or get into psychology. We do that all the time, and it goes around in circles, or makes things worse. We love to talk about ourselves that way, such as with our friends, or in the chatter in our heads. Yak yak yak yak yakity yak yak yak... the narrative. It goes on and on. It's even been institutionalized as a kind of truth, a stand-in for truth. The narrative. Our narrative versus their narrative.

We're fucked.

Of course we are fucked. The planet will die when the sun goes nova in 4 billion years, and in any case, every body that is born will die. Nothing new about about this situation. What goes up must come down.

You're not cheering me up much... (laughter)

Not trying to. Look, the important thing in this equation is not that the planet or the body is fucked, as they inevitably are, but that you're fucked.

Oh, great.

In other words, whatever you've tried up to now, has not worked, is not working. It's going around in circles. You've been chasing your own tail.

It still doesn't sound like good news.

It's perfect, actually. Because you’re going around in the circles of your own device. No one is imposing this on you, this prison. You have the keys in your hand.

That's wild. Um, But, I mean, it sounds wild, sounds good, but I still don't see it... not feeling it. What is this "key" you're talking about? 

It's simply following the logic of what we are looking into here, as I see it. Where else could the key be? We've seen it's not out there, in any of the things you sought after. They didn't satisfy for long, before you were off the the races again, trying to fill the void, the gap, find the feeling or whatever you were looking for in the substance, or person, object, situation, activity... then came up empty.

So here we are, with this perfect emptiness.

It's not a very comfortable emptiness. 

Now that's interesting. Do you hear what you just said? A "comfortable emptiness"?  Now, that is so rich with meaning, I don't even know where to start... I imagine suburban housewives or husbands, sitting on a couch, watching TV, stoned, comfortable, a great void in their soul (laughs), or wandering through shopping lanes at a giant mall, looking for something, god knows what... maybe around the next corner, in the next isle.

Or someone taking heroin, and feeling that nice numb, detached comfortable emptiness, for a while.

Jesus. What is the point. That is all kind of horrifying, the way you put it. The soul-sucking void of modern life.

You really think there is some point, some huge big point, or something you're lacking that would be meaningful if you had it. Some object.

Um. So instead, I should get into spirituality. Seek Self Realization, is what you're saying. Get interested in that. 

Good luck getting interested, if you're not.

But you see where that's leading anyway, don't you? Instead of the shopping mall or the new lover, or car, or house, or job, or the self-help seminar, or the heroin, it's meditation, beads, spiritual clothing, yoga, retreats, expensive destinations. And lots of books, videos, teachers, teachings, practices, learnings, things to get and understand and brag about, though subtly and humbly. Your trip to India. The amazing experience. The incredible yoga teacher, the mind blowing Ayahuasca ceremony. Chasing your tail, but in a spiritual way. A very refined ego.

Don't get me wrong, I think it's great. I'd rather see spiritual addicts than drug addicts any day. I just don't want to get into arguments with them (laughs).

Got a point there. But, I'm still with the same problem, feeling empty. 

As my Dutch Zen friend said, "No one cares about your problem, so why do you?"

That's harsh. 

Depends on how you hear it. If you hear it as about people or your self, your small, fake self, it sounds like an asshole saying it, not cool. Or if it rings a bell, a real bell, it opens you up.

Opens you up to.. what? To God? To caring about something? 

Who is caring? Who is this caring person? What are you trying to pull here? This act of being whatever.

So there's a feeling. Is this character with a feeling some kind of god you worship? The avatar on the throne?

But the feeling is unpleasant.

Dethrone the avatar. He has no clothes on. No real ones. Tip his throne over into the ocean. So the avatar can dissolve and play fishy fish.

You're talking in riddles now.

We make up rules and forget that it’s we that made them. Playing God as it were. Rules and meaning and significance. That’s where the heaviness comes from. And you know that thinking then leads to feeling, sensations in the body, then you’re in a loop. I’ve said a million times, it probably gets boring, but just see it’s not front page news.

We give everything all the meaning it has.

I don’t know. I mean, if we give everything all the meaning it has, it sounds like nihilism to me. 

No. Listen. Nihilism is making a positive statement.

What do you mean positive? Sounds about as negative as you can get.

Positive in the sense that it's asserting a claim. A claim about meaning. That you know life is meaningless. Which is a rather negative positive claim, suited for particular purposes. You can be a hip philosopher, for instance. (laughter).

Do you really know that life is meaningless? Honestly? Are you that smart, to judge all of life?

Let me indulge you for a moment, and riff on nihilism a litte... I see at ;east two varieties, two flavors. Let's call them Nihilism Lite and Nihilism Heavy. Those are popular products for some segments of the market. 

I'll tell you a little story. This young guy called me up from where he lives in the Caribbean – an investor and crypto trader, from a Pakistani family, who’d run across my writings. He claimed to be interested in Non-duality, said he’d been all over the world talking to teachers, and that he’d read hundreds of books on nonduality. Anyway, we start talking, and right away I could see he was on a another wavelength, actually wanting something else than what the message of non-duality offers. He already had his conclusions and wants.

Turns out he was already heavily invested in Nihilism Lite. See, it was a solution for him. I realized later, that with a heavy religious background in his family, a Hindu or Muslim –I don’t remember the details, and it doesn’t matter – the point being he wanted to be free – really just wanted to be allowed to do what he was already wanting  - to e given permission essentially – for making lots of money and running around the world, and having lots of relationships – without all the moral restraints his upbringing – the shoulds and shouldn’ts, the goods and bads, the rules.  So a popular Nihilism as advertised on Youtube felt like the answer for that.

Non-duality smacked too much of the kind of spiritual religious shit he’d been brought up with, despite the way it negated things. He wanted to stuff of this world, and li emany young people with lots of energy, non-duality seemed too mental, too abstraqct, not juicy enough. A as a young energetic being, that’s where it’s seen at, running around and having sex and seeing new places and having lots of experiences is where it's at. 

Wow. Interesting.

They misinterpret the message of non-duality as being somehow world-denying, and want certain kinds of experiences.

And I’ve met other young people - that go to these retreats or satsangs – and they tell me, they don’t want to hear about pure consciousness or the non-phenomenal or however they put it – because they hear it from the wanting, which hears it as a not giving them the goods. For example, they want the “divine play of energies” and to fall in love, meet some nice guy, hopefully rich, or they want the wealthy lifestyles they see of other young women on Instagram, and they see what they call “Consciousness” as the big grab bag of goodies, if they can such access and tap into it. 


Yeah, interesting, huh. As if somehow, the Nothing with a capital “n” that is Everything with a capital “e” takes something away! See, Non-duality just takes the illusions away, that’s all. Very simple. The mountains are still the mountains, only free of interference, from the filters of mind, the mind of duality, so to speak. 

But, like that character in the Matrix that wanted to make a deal with those powers that be that wanted to keep characters firmly in the Matrix, he wanted the fine steak and wine and other experiences there, thinking that’s where the happiness was found. 

I get it, But still sounds like a meaningful message.

What I’m saying is completely different. This, this life, is a totally meaningful meaninglessness. It’s a glorious freedom from meaning that can give you all the meaning you want, if you want it.

That is a little confusing. I mean, yeah all opposites are united in non-duality, but how does this, like, actually apply.

Some examples from life may be helpful.

Let's take anxiety.

Yes please take it. (laughter)

It's a good example, because you can see how significance is given to perceived events, such as sensations of fear, or scary thoughts about what may happen. A turbulence in the flow of life happens. All about what's not happening. Something perceived as in the body or in the world is given great import, meaning, and blown up big. Even the anxiety itself can be given a lot of meaning, amplifying it in a feedback loop. Thus anxiety attacks.

But it only has this amplified meaning in relation to a 'me', a manufactured self, an imaginary entity and an imagined future.

Sounds lovely... But it sounds like a person giving it meaning, so then it’s arbitrary. It’s like when people say "it’s all just narrative", all that bullshit. Narrative warfare in the media and with politicians. Relativism.

Nope, just the opposite. Not an absolute-ism but a double negative. One that delivers the goods.
Nonduality Nonduality.
On beyond seeking. The buck stops here.

I'm mystified. You are talking in, like koans. Riddles. Nonduality can be frustrating

Frustration is a good sign. Means you’re getting somewhere. Means you’re starting to sense the limits of your mind. It’s like if you get down to the edge of the water, and there’s a boat there that will allow you to float across the lake. The legs that got you there aren’t gonna be much use. You’re going to have to trust a different source of transportation.

And what is that?

All the spiritual, social, scientific, psychological, religious, self-help, and on, and on, and on... ideas – were great for a limited domain and limited time, but they all wear out after a while. Same for all the techniques and practices and substances. Those are the legs that succeeded in bringing you to the point of their failure. Then they can show their true usefulness

I don’t see how that’s so useful. That general failure Reminds me of the GP, the general pointlessness again.

This is why it’s so valuable. You’re finally free from all the stuff that in the end didn’t deliver what you’re really looking for. If you were still really believing in it and had some value, some true long lasting permanent value, you’d be stuck with it. And actually, if you do believe in it, then you really should pursue it. It’s not over until it’s over. You can’t fool yourself intellectually saying you’re done with it when you really aren’t. So if you really believe that making 10 million dollars and having the perfect lover and the right house in the right location, the perfect job or career, and what not, will make you happy in a real sense, beyond the usual rat race of ups and downs, then you should go for it. Or you believe in that continuous placement of new goals and the pursuit of happiness in the future, the carrot in front of the nose, the hamster wheel is “Just the way it is “ then fine. Don’t ask me for something more. But at the same time, don’t come complaining to me when it’s not working.


Most people don’t want to be liberated, self-realized – that is truly happy and at peace – they just want a self-help program. They want help in setting goals reaching goals and and so forth. And that’s fine. That’s how it all rolls, as they say. Maya. They are like that character in The Matrix that strikes a deal, since he’d rather have fine steak than escape the Matrix.

For some unknown reason, some of the characters in this here play get an inkling that there’s more going on than meets the eyes and ears and notions of their upbringing and culture. Maybe they’ve had a glimpse, or an intuition. An opening.

A heavy layer of meaning overlays a simple living of the moment, as a child or an animal does so easily.

It may mean something to me though.

Of course. Some of the best things in life are those happy meaningful meaningless laughs with a stranger or a friend, or your dog, or yourself. The troubles I’m talking about are about the “me” in your statement: “…to me”. That’s the real killer. Killer of happiness and contentment. The poop in the poodle. “It’s pointless to me”. or for me. Because I want something – maybe even just to feel better.

Well of course to me. Who else. And I can’t pretend I’m not here or don’t exist, or that there’s no ‘me’.

I’m not suggesting you do. I’m suggesting the opposite: that stop pretending. Your mother and father may have thought you were God’s gift to Earth, and superior to other people and creatures. Or perhaps you were bad and a little devil. Who knows, but the point is, in some way special or different or better or worse. Basically, separate, and that this body was what you were, and the source and center of consciousness.

So, basically, I’m, or it, is self-centeredness.

Yes. It’s a product.

What do you mean?

I mean, self-centeredness, the big ego or self-image, whether positive or negative –  or the sense of being special or superior, important in some absolute sense in contrast to everything else, is a product of the learned sense of separation, SOS. This can be exacerbated by having some talent, some success, or owning things or doing things that are considered valuable by others. And deriving meaning and value from it, thinking it’s that. Or if none of those, then you may have a belief system you take very seriously. Be on a mission. From God. Maybe to save the world or some thing. Heaven help us…

In any case, it’s a trap. You’re hooked in. How can you be free if you take some object seriously, absolutely? The center object to it all is this “me” that you have not really looked at, observed, it total honesty, in reality. If you can’t see it, then you are subject to it, and you will never see from the real perspective, the real self.

Believe me, I’ve done plenty of self examination. Brutally. Over decades. It got me nowhere. And I had professional help along the way too, to examine the me.

So there you go. It took you nowhere except to more of the same. You're parked in a No Fun Zone.
And you can stand there examining the parking ticket, or you can just fucking drop it and leave.

Got it. Thanks. 

You're welcome.

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Eric Platt

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