What Makes Us Cling?

Be it a tight hug from a friend, finding answers in history or a reassurance of our existence, we are designed to hang on.

Raj Ajay Pandya
4 min readNov 9, 2022
Photo Credits: Pinterest

We often speak intimately to life. Time after time, weak in and weak out, we converse with ourselves without the evidence that there’s an inverse talk. Buddhists call it the monkey mind, wherein we are often unsettled, restless and capricious. It may be argued that the modern world presents several doors; designed for several people for the umpteen needs — therapy, mindfulness and music for the soul (not Harry Styles). But, what about the transaction with the world in the form of history, religious texts and entertainment?

Riccardo Prandini, professor of political and social science, noted in his paper about the philosophical theory of ‘Relationalism’ that the social world is a network of interactions and ties of numerous types, and on various scales between actors who are themselves formed in those interactions. In a way, if relationalism is combined with the Buddhist texts, one can never leave the world without leaving the world, something that many ‘modern gurus’ don't teach.

To leave the monkey mind, the monkey needs to get far away from the troop, possibly away from the day-to-day drama, noises and interactions. But we don’t. We stay amongst the troop, drinking the wine of temporary comfort, galvanising ourselves to make better social contracts and attaching ourselves to a version that is more relatable, more promising and extra hopeful. And we use the resources to our disposable — entertainment, history and religious texts, out of many more.

According to the objective truth of science, all atoms and molecules are constantly moving through space. However, a perfectly structured combination of these elements also make a good chair — comfortable, movable and useful. That is where the subjective truth comes in when the chaos gets in order; when the rains fill the pond; when the spreadsheet on the computer perfectly analyses the data. The common thread in these random events is the search for meaning.

Diane Keaton and Al Pacino in The Godfather. Photo Credits: Paramount Pictures

In regards to entertainment, we sympathise with Kay Adams-Corleone when capos enter the office and pay reverence to Michael as “Don Corleone”, and she sees the closing door. We know, relating to human sensibilities, that the ship that would take Kay and Michael away from the world of blood, wrong-doings and immorality, has sailed. Although a lot has been written about The Godfather, one critique remains constant: it is one of the greatest endings in cinema’s history.

Take history for example. Anthropological data and modern findings have had a great impact on the way we look at our beginnings. It is fascinating to know how different cultures and societies evolved through centuries and millenniums — all in search of meaning. We see an old archeologist making discoveries at the age of eighty, and we see a teenager clinging to his ancestors who lived 500 years ago. We see a mid-thirties professional reminiscing their school photographs and we see a nonchalant celebrity going back to the place where he/she started. We cling to things, places and memories because they make an orderly sense in a disordered world.

The Lascaux Paintings. Red Cow & First Chinese Horse. Photo Credits: Bradshaw Foundation

In prehistory, when humans settled near rivers and in valleys, the problem at hand was I vs them. We hunted animals, built caves and surrounded ourselves with immediate blood family. Then we emerged in groups, setting rules and regulations, making myths and stories to make sense of the world collectively, thus emerged the problem of Us vs Them, which gave rise to issues like nationalism and racism in the modern era.

Many of us find solace in religious texts as they provide an easy answer to the most complex mysteries. They provide comfort to the dejected and hope to the elderly. The theory of relationalism, as expressed by the Indian philosopher Joseph Kaipayil in his early works, also intertwines the Buddhist concept of ‘Dependent Origination’. A philosophically complex concept, dependent origination has many interpretations and explanations. But it mainly works on the causality process where one thing leads to another, almost in a chain reaction.

If X happens then Y will happen, and if X doesn’t happen, then Y won’t happen. In the latter situation, it indicates the fear of nothingness which forces us to ask the age-old question — why is there something instead of nothing?

Once again, the search for meaning continues because religions around the world give existential reassurance to human beings, and with every other resource on the planet, we continue to cling.

Be it a tight hug from a friend, finding answers in history or a reassurance of our existence, we are designed to hang on.



Raj Ajay Pandya

Writer | Journalist Instagram: @rajajaypandya Twitter: @RajAjayPandya