On the face of it this seems like the most unanswerable question there is, a question that nags our existence from start to finish.
And paradoxically, the more we integrate mindfulness with our daily lives and realise that the only reality we have is the present, the more life seems somewhat pointless – because we are living as if this is all there is.
And we must presume this is the case. Looking upwards at what “might be” is a waste of energy, especially when life is down “here”.
No matter how strong our faith in a particular religion or philosophy, we can only ‘believe' if we don't have the evidence to truly ‘know'.
Saying, “I believe” is never an adequate substitute for being able to say,”I know”. Faith is largely centered around belief because it relies on second, third, fourth (and so on) accounts of things that may or may not be true.
But let me be clear: the point of this post is not to question anyone's faith, or to put forward an alternative school of thought on what might exist in another realm, but to simply present what is real.
Do You Even Know What You're Doing?
For more than 20 years, science has suggested that we may have very little control over what we do, calling into question the concept of free will.
Studies have shown that the brain knows what you will do before the compulsion to act comes into your awareness. In short, our thoughts and actions are triggered by neurological processes we don't control.
Indeed, a study published in Psychological Science suggests that in the very moments that we experience a choice, our minds are rewriting history, fooling us into thinking that this choice—that was actually completed after its consequences were subconsciously perceived—was a choice that we had made all along.
The realisation that we are technically on autopilot and without free will, adds another new dimension to the question: “what's the point?”
If there's nothing after this existence, and I'm not fully in control of my actions in this one; then truly, what is the point to all this doing, competing, struggling, striving, working, accumulating, etc.
What Is the Point of Life
If the only reason you're living is because you believe that afterwards you will go to a better place, then why not go now?
Seriously: It's great to have faith, as long as it doesn't restrict and/or distort your reality to the point that you aren't truly living this life to the fullest. And by that I mean simply appreciating whatever blessings, however small and fleeting, are within your existence right now.
The only reality, the only thing we truly know is this moment, right here, right now. Fact.
And it is at this point that science and mindfulness merge quite beautifully; because, even though there was a neurological process that happened prior to my thinking about writing this post, it still took my conscious doing to take action and write it.
The reality, the control I have – the living and the being – is the doing in the moment. I can take full control of my life right this second. I can act in full awareness on a particular thought of my choice. I can seize this moment to take action.
We have a million and one thoughts a day, none of which we have any control over. We can't filter thoughts and unthink the ones we don't like, but we do get to choose the ones through which we take action.
Or do we? Actually, it doesn't matter.
Let me take you back to the start of this post where we spoke of ‘believing' something versus ‘knowing something'.
I don't “believe” I will one day write this post. I “know” I am writing this post. This is the reality. It exists right now, as I'm taking action.
Can you see the fundamental difference in ‘believing' and ‘knowing'?
Within this simple concept is the point of life.
The Point of Life Is Life Itself
The point of life is to live with what you know to be real.
Of course, what appears as a reality may not really be as we perceive it, but we are continually learning about this through science — and it's amazing to witness.
The fact is: we don't know what's around the corner, what happens when we die or even the true extent of the control we have over our lives.
What we do know is that we have an awareness of being here now.
Stop for a moment and look around. That's an awareness looking through those eyes: a soul, a physical being, a personality, a beautiful individual that cannot and will never be replicated. You are one of a kind. Truly.
Don't spend your life “believing”, because the happiness is in the “knowing”.
There's nothing to hope for in the future – because it doesn't exist – but everything to embrace right this second.
This is the point. You are the point, along with every other living organism that surrounds your existence in this moment.
Life is happening now.
The tiniest, seemingly insignificant insect you see on the floor is a fundamental part of the point, because you know it exists in the here and now.
When we start living through what we know to be real, the point of life falls into place; it has context, substance and meaning.
Once this is understood, there is a profound shift of consciousness.
A weight is lifted off your shoulders as you realise there is no need to cause stress and mental suffering by constantly competing with yourself and others, by striving for more than you need, by grasping blindly at every next best thing.
Because all these actions are based on empty beliefs of a better time, a better place, a more contented and happier you; things that transcend, reshape and get further away the closer you think you are to them.
Live in the present moment, stick with what you know to be real and the meaning of life will transpire as your individual experience of joy. Any thoughts of what might be will become just that, thoughts, rather than self-prophesying “beliefs” that amount to non-reality living.
Having received a number of emails regarding this post, I have opened up the comments so readers can leave their thoughts below: