Speculation: A Pointless Pastime

Man sitting on mountain

Earlier this year, I was in northern India in the foothills of the Himalayas, staying on the banks of the Ganges for three months. It was a beautiful remote location, with the still waters of the great river on one side and farms and fields on the other.

Contact with anyone outside the premises was infrequent and – to be honest – unwanted. Visitors were rare, and there was no TV or radio. Mobile signals and Wi-Fi were patchy. This voluntary period of solitude and disconnection was the perfect place for me to continue my studies and meditate multiple times every day.

Over the preceding eighteen months I had been planning for this absence. Domestic, personal, and professional duties had to be covered for this time away, which was time-consuming but fairly straightforward.

I had some information about what to expect from my trip based on others’ experiences, but the practical information about the trip, including departure date, was sketchy and hard to obtain. I had a choice as to how I was going to react and deal with this uncertainty. In my heart, I knew that whatever happened over the coming months I was going to arrive at the destination… it was the journey itself which I was not sure about.

"Speculating leads always and only to suffering" —Emily Fletcher

As a meditator, I have become aware of the pointlessness of speculation and the worrying that often accompanies it. Now was the time to suspend my intellect and ego and simply submit – taking each day as it came, allowing myself to surrender to the elemental energy of the moment, letting whatever arose be the ultimate determinant.

I wanted to be committed to the process without being emotionally attached to the result. As Emily Fletcher, a colleague of mine, has said: “Speculation leads always and only to suffering.”

We need to spend less time as ‘human doings’ and more as ‘human beings’, connecting with nature and surrendering our ego and intellect to the reality of the present moment. Learned helplessness based on speculation, supposition, and fearful notions is debilitating and steals precious time from us.

Meditation teaches us the value of intensively doing nothing, taking time to step back and get perspective, to see the subtleties, nuances, and connections which so often go unnoticed in our hurry through the day. This ability to reflect is one of the many benefits a regular meditation practice can give you.

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Anthony Thompson