On Doing and Being
In this essay I will be examining one of the notions that comes up frequently in the public sphere as it has in my conversations and writings. The notion I am referring to is that of "doing versus being". It is also something that is found in many of the thousands of inspirational quotes that flow through social media every day. When you hear the phrase it rolls off the tongue easily and being sounds simple to do ... it is not. It is elusive, as many quickly discover. When you try to find it - it becomes like trying to catch your own shadow and remains beyond one's grasp. It occasionally surfaces, in unexpected and brief moments that leave one in awe and wanting more.
It is hard to attain a state of being because the ability "to be" is trained out of us to the point where many do not even understand or even remember what being is. It is also hard to attain because most have only a vague notion of what it is and such definitions do not help us figure out how to get to a state of being. This is not different than how vague directions will not get us to a particular destination. So, just what is this strange thing or state of consciousness or awareness that I am referring to as being?
The use of the word "being" in the context I am referring is in relation to ones state of consciousness, though some substitute the word awareness for consciousness. If we look at doing and being as opposites states then being could be consider not-doing. We all have experience with it, though we do not remember. We are born into each incarnation in a state of being rather than one of doing. We do not remember this because our minds were essentially non-existent so we do not have easily accessible memories. Further, the mind cannot remember our being, they are only capable of doing. I realize this does not begin to explain what being is nor help you achieve such a state, but then it was never meant to. One cannot simply define and explain what being is in a few sentences, if it is possible to do so at all. Instead of trying to do this I will start from the bottom up.
Children express themselves through their core self, or being, based on the capabilities of their physical, emotional and mental bodies. We all start out without a care, so long as our basic needs are met. We do not have control over our bodies, we do not live on a schedule, time is meaningless, we have no roles or responsibilities to fulfill, do not judge or criticize. What we do is express our joy, curious and imagination without inhibitions. We do such things because our minds have not developed to the point where they begin to interject between us and ourselves obscuring our "inner self". We are almost in a perpetual state of being though it is does not take much more than a couple of years of living before we start to set being aside and are pressed into doing. We give it up without the slightest awareness that we are doing so.
Our living in a state of being, one of relative bliss, is relatively short lived. It does not take long for the mind to start to develop and take hold. We are capable of being conscious without using thoughts; however, we also must learn to interact with the phenomenal world to live and this is what having a mind enables us to do. Our minds develop under the tutelage of and through our experiences with our parents, families, peers, friends and the education system and so on. Its programming is based on how we integrated these experiences. The end result of these is the creation of a mind that takes us out of our blissful state of being into a world of doing.
Parents and the education system see this as not only important but necessary for children's well being and eventual survival in the real world. Too few see or are even aware of the their own being to find value in it and the result is we literally forced our children to let go of being and focus on doing. The inevitable result is that we eventually have enough experience that the "I" congeals out of the body of thoughts we have created. Once that ball starts rolling it is relentless. It overpowers most of us save those with the strongest gifts. Children who come to know only doing become adults even more fully entrenched in living life this way. We go from a being with no concept of "I" to one that only knows "I".
The phrase "We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience" relates directly to being in that we have to remember we are not our minds, we are spiritual beings and our minds are what enables the human experience. However, by always doing we allow our minds to become completely dominant. They create expectations, needs and wants and there is all the dynamics of human interactions that lead it to even more thinking. We live through our thoughts and in the process lose the connection to our core self or being. It is not that our minds that forget how "to be", it is that they are incapable of being in the first place.
Spending virtually all our time doing keeps our minds thinking, analyzing, planning, calculating. The inevitable result of this is that we become focused on meeting the needs and desires that we have taken on. Our minds creates the majority of these at the non-conscious level. It is our mind, our consciousness's mental interface, that creates the construct we call reality. It is not reality, it is an representation of reality, often referred to as the illusion.
I am not saying our minds create the things we perceive, but that it creates our perception of what it perceives. We come to live in or through our minds forgetting that there is far more to us. This is why many of us do not understand or grasp the benefits of learning "to be". The cumulative affect of all these factors result is that doing gets all our attention and being is at most an afterthought.
We are capable of being conscious on a number of levels. We can be conscious of our physical body, that is we can feel our bodies and receive impressions from it so that we can direct its movement. We can be conscious of and feel our emotions separate from our bodies physiological responses to them. We can be also conscious mentally, by this I mean we have thoughts and are aware of them. Most of us are still not mentally conscious (1) nor of our other aspects. We can also be directly conscious of our core intent separate from how our intent is expressed in thoughts and we can be aware of and through our core being. Unfortunately the higher aspects of our consciousness are not readily accessible to most of us at this point in time.
Our ability to be aware of our higher aspects is limited by the degree to which we are conscious and in control of our lower ones. Our lower aspects being our physical, emotional and mental ones. You can imagine a series of veils separating our various aspects, each of them must be lifted in turn until none remain. The path to lifting them is through personal and, for lack of a better term, spiritual growth.
Personal growth is required because the veils can only be lifted by becoming conscious on each of the levels (1). When I refer to being conscious on these levels I am not referring to being able to think consciously, we all can do that. I am referring to being conscious of not just of our conscious thoughts but of our non-conscious ones as well. This includes being in control of them rather than our mind acting of its own behalf based on how it has been programmed. The more emotionally and mentally conscious we are the greater our ability to do a number of things including being rather than being locked into continually doings.
At this point we need to get a shared understanding of what I mean when I refer to being as opposed to doing. I think most understand doing fairly well. When I refer to attaining a state of being rather than doing I am referring to being conscious either through our core self or in a manner that is in alignment with it. For simplicity sake you can consider our core or higher aspects as those "beyond" our physical, emotional and mental ones. These are also the only aspects that persist after we die.
We are all capable of being conscious through our higher vehicles; however, at this point in time few have reached this stage of awareness. For most of us the best we can do is touch or perhaps more aptly allow various aspects of it for short periods of time. Even though we may not be able to attain a state of being directly it is not a "one or the other" kind of thing. That is we are not either doing or being, it is more like a continuum where at one end we are mostly doing and the other mostly being. Those who live almost exclusively through their thoughts and feelings are at one end of the continuum and those who can be conscious directly through their higher vehicles or aspects are at the other. Do not take this to mean that being at one end of the spectrum is better or important than the other. Where you are on this line is irrelevant. It is not a race and we all have to and will travel the length. There are many factors that affect where we are on it including when we started, what path we have taken, our progress in each lifetime and how often we have incarnated.
Now, while each of our aspects are separate, that is they are made of "different forms of matter", they are intrinsically linked. Figuratively speaking, when they are in alignment you could say our core consciousness works through them all. The result is harmony. They only work in a fully harmonious fashion when one is enlightened, hence the degree to which our vehicles are in harmony reflects how evolved we are. When they are fully harmonious we are always or almost always in a "state of being" as our doings, if you will, are aligned with our being.
In terms of our minds, the less we are consciously directing non-concious mental activities the more we are doing and less we are being. The less harmonious our emotional, mental and causal aspects are the thicker the veil. It is not unlike how polarized lenses block the light. It is important to realize that we are not either being or doing one hundred percent. So, essentially learning "to be" more means developing greater conscious awareness of all our aspects.
Before we go any further into what being is or means it is important to note that doing, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. It becomes a problem and a hindrance when our doings are not aligned with our inner self and our minds have control. We can tell that we are out of alignment by the amount of challenges we have in our lives including the negative thoughts and emotions we experience. Hence learning "to be" more means working on personal and spiritual growth.
The primary methods whereby we can learn "to be" more are practising mindfulness or meditation. I say primary because the effects of doing them on us is more direct than pretty much all others. Both of these practises also help us to become more emotionally and mentally conscious. If we consider these two methods and do a little research we find that both have been proven to have a wide range of benefits . Studies done in the areas such wellness, psychology and neurosciences have shown that these techniques can positively affect our bodies health and functioning and even more directly our emotional state and the functioning of our minds.
There are many reasons why most of us live in our minds, especially those of us in western countries. A big reason is that we teach and train our children to do things and little to nothing about not-doing or being. The two methods I mentioned, meditation and mindfulness, are essentially ignored, though this may finally be shifting as educators begin to recognize the benefits they provide. Another significant reason is some simply do not want to delve into themselves, often because they fear what they might find buried in their minds. It is an irrational fear, but then many and arguably most of our fears are.
I could write on the reasons why for days and probably never come to the end of the list of reasons (commonly known as excuses) people contrive to avoid practising them. These are really neither here. Nonetheless that result has been than not many practice them enough to realize how beneficial they can be let alone reap any of them. It is not my intent to chastise people in general or those who raise children for this. It is what it is. However, having said that I believe that if people did take some time to try either technique for a period of time it would reinforce what the studies have shown and many already know. This could lead to their continuing doing so and perhaps even on a regular basis. This is a beneficial habit that they can pass on to their children, something I have also written about and will not get into here (2).
In order to achieve any significant degree of being we must work on our minds. If we do not do this then our minds will remain in control, rather than us consciously, and out of alignment with our higher self. In this case, even though we are capable of being more aware of our higher aspects, we do not see or notice them save in rare glimpses or whispers from within. These other aspects of us are far greater than our lower ones but are hidden and obscured by activities of mind and its continual doings. This is why the vast majority rarely get to a state of being.
There is always a little bit of being going on but it is goes unnoticed just as the sound of a pin dropping would be at a rock concert. We simply cannot get more into a state of being by thinking about it because our minds are incapable of being. They are forever locked into cycles of moments in time and in discerning, analyzing and calculating. It would be one thing if these doings were aligned with our core being, but they rarely are. Again, we ought not blame ourselves for this. Thinking is what minds do though and the downside of living through our mind is not obvious. To us it is who we are and we do not really know any better. However, we can take responsibility for the state of our mind and do something about it.
In addition, there is no readily discernible link between living through our minds and the problems we have in our lives or the strife in the world at large. It is there but we simply do not connect the dots. Do not get me wrong, we need our minds and if properly trained and more under our control than not they are magnificent. All the wonders of the modern era are the result of the continuing development, expansion and refinement of the qualities and capabilities of mind. While this is all well and good our focus and reliance on them almost exclusively is like always using our arms but never your legs. By doing this we end up with very powerful arms but cannot walk.
Living in and through our minds is a direct result of the process of evolution. I would refer to this as historical momentum and it is not something that is easily overcome just as one cannot quickly turn a large ship or stop a train rolling along. Think back on hundreds of thousands or a couple million years of history and consider the fact we had and still have bodies that are not as capable as many other species on on the planet. We could not outrun predators, nor defeat them in battle barehanded. We we do not have claws, sharp teeth, poison glands, natural camouflage or even a thick hide or fur to protect us from the elements. In order to survive we have relied on the one advantage we do have, a very powerful consciousness, highly capable minds and an brain evolved enough for us to use. It is only natural that over the millennia we come to rely on them, "live in them" and identify who and what we are, the "I", with our minds.
Every species struggles to continue itself, to survive and propagate. We learned to do this millions of years ago and have managed to not only survive and propagate, we totally dominate our world. Arguably we have done this all too well. The only thing that on earth that is more powerful than us is nature itself. We know this because it continually shows us its might and when we look up into the sky we see how tiny and truly insignificant we are compared to the Cosmos. If the entire world was one huge sand dune by comparison to the Cosmos we would be like an atom within a grain of sand.
In and of itself our pursuit of knowledge is not a bad thing though it becomes a detriment when focus nearly all of our attention without and very little within. For one thing, we would not so wilfully decimate the planet nor harm others if we did not. For another, we have become so arrogant as to believe our ability to think and do is the "Be all and end all." However, this is not even remotely the case and all we have done is lose touch with our other, more powerful higher aspects. Given this, the challenge becomes one of finding our way out of the trap we have built though doing so can be like trying to find the corner in a round room.
"You're reacting to your own reactions
And you call it getting along
but if things are so together
They sure aren't letting on"
~ Allan Beveridge (from the lyrics "Modern Man")
Living in and through our minds means living in an illusion, one built and maintained by the minds constructs. These constructs are what we call thoughts. We have elevated our minds to such a high status that we see it as us and cannot imagine living without it. This is understandable since it does appear that "No matter where we go - there it is." Many either strongly believe or have had experiences that have shown that there is more to us than our bodies, emotions and minds. However, combined they create a maze without a discernible exit because you cannot come to a state of being by doing.
Trying to get closer to a state of being by doing is a fools errand. Thinking can only lead to more thinking and thinking is doing. However, I would be remiss if I did not put a caveat on this, namely that in order to learn "to be" we do need to do some personal growth work and this does require some thinking. One could say that the issue really is not solely thinking, it is in what and how we think.
So long as we are focused externally or worrying about this and that, about what other people are thinking or doing or on what we feel we need or want and desire being remains elusive. The reason is most such things are not in alignment with our our core being. We are not going to get any closer to achieving a state of being by continuing to spend our time and energy on such things. In this environment being rather than doing is a great challenge.
The notion of doing versus being is one of the many dualities we are confronted with. It is related to the dualism of mind-matter and mind-body and the dualism of Buddhist philosophers such as Dharmakirti who argue for a dualism between states of consciousness and Buddhist atoms (Buddhist atoms being the basic building blocks that make up reality). This latter form of dualism is viewed by some Eastern philosophies as substance dualism, which draws a metaphysical line between consciousness and matter where mind is included as part of our substance. The apparent duality of doing and and being is related to this view in that doing is the result of processes of mind and being those of our core consciousness.
The notion of duality implies an exclusive "or", a "this or that" or that there is black and white but no grey. It should be obvious that this is not the case. What appears to be a duality is nothing more than an illusion. The same applies to doing and being. So long as we are incarnate there is never no doing and never always being. The reason I am mentioning the notion of duality is because this thought form is one the mind creates behind the scenes and the beliefs we hold about the nature of things affect our ability "to be".
Earlier I mentioned that trying to think our way to a state of being is akin to trying to find the corner in a round room. To many this notion appears to be a paradox though it is more accurately referred to as a conundrum. The reason it seems to be a paradox is because it appears that in order to shift from a state of doing one must shut their mind off, but the mind cannot be shut off. It can be quieted but no matter how quiet it becomes it is still active. There is no way around this. However, it is not a paradox because it is based on the premise that the mind is the "seat of our consciousness", which it is not. It is only an aspect we take on when we incarnate though it is one we have allowed to become dominant. This is why it is a conundrum rather than a paradox.
A conundrum is a difficult question or a riddle. A riddle is a statement or question that has either a doubled or veiled meaning. In this case the riddle is an enigma that requires some ingenuity, careful contemplation and frankly letting go to solve. To solve the riddle we should consider accepting two points. One is that we can be separate from doing, where doing is the result of the activities of our mind, andthe other is we are not our minds. Both of these beliefs are required, and perhaps some others. If you only believe one of them you will be stuck in a contradiction, one the mind cannot resolve. The result of this is that attaining a state of being is next to impossible and we will remain caught in the struggle of "trying to find the corner in the round room". We tend to live through our thoughts, which keeps us in a constant state of doing. This makes it very difficult to accept that we can be benefit from being conscious without using our minds or that doing so is even possible.
"There is a difference between knowing the path and walking the path" ~ The Matrix (statement by Morpheus to Neo)
We will only get beyond the conundrum when we start to realize and understand that we are not our minds and accepting that it is possible "to be" without being consumed by our minds relentless doing. I grant you this can be a challenge in part because by the time we realize that such things are possible we have years of emotional and mental history to overcome. This history, or baggage, comes in the form of the programming in our minds that has us misaligned and caught up in the persistent myth that we are our minds. It is this belief, and ones related to it, that make it hard for us to not only be, they also keep us locked into the perception that we are completely separate things from the world around us.
We all manifest and hold onto beliefs that are not representative of what we are. We also have beliefs that are contradictory but do not realize it. The reason is we are not consciously aware of all we believe is our minds create them at the non-conscious level. They are created by our minds as part of the integration process most of which is done beyond the prying eyes of our conscious mind. Further, our minds do not care if they hold contradictory or conflicting beliefs.
Beliefs are not easy to overcome because most of us are not actually very conscious of just what it is we believe (3) and our thoughts are highly connected. The beliefs we hold are usually connected to many other beliefs. To work on one invariably results in our working on a number of them. Another factor is we can have a vested interest in maintaining a particular belief or thought pattern and be very reluctant to let them go.
I dealt with this myself many years ago as I grew up in an atheistic family where notions of spirit and consciousness separate from our bodies were considered nonsense and were not just frowned on but led to put-downs of various kinds. Further, there was a considerable amount of peer pressure to conform and these notions were considered taboo unless you wanted to be considered a flake or worse. I was tired of fighting with my father and cared a little too much about what I believed people thought of me. I deciding that not sharing my experiences, thoughts and beliefs about such things was better than punishment, abuse or personal attacks and so on. These thoughts persisted through my childhood though there came a time, during my early twenties, when I decided I had experienced enough of that. I had developed enough faith in in myself and my intelligence and sufficient personal power to let go of such concerns. I have not looked back since.
For many trying to learn "to be" is a challenge because they know of only doing but because of the beliefs that living this way gives rise to. As we have touched on, our beliefs create the reality we live in. Considering this thought reminds me of the statement: "I will believe it when I see it". This notion comes with a corollary, namely "I will not believe it until I see it". The issue with this belief is that is self fulfilling and leaves next to no room for other possibilities. Combined they are a double whammy.
Unlearning or changing what we have come to believe means taking control over who is creating our minds. The choices are us and doing so consciously or our minds behind the scenes at the non-conscious level. Another part of this challenge is that when we try to change our beliefs and thoughts we find that our minds defend their creations. Further, since we come to think we are our minds, we defend beliefs even if they are not helping us. This is part of why changing beliefs is not trivial to do. However, they can and will be "worn down" over time if one is persistent enough ;)
Talking about learning "to be" is much like talking about learning "to see" beyond the physical. Many think that if there were something other than the physical, or what we can sense with various instruments, then we would have seen IT by now. Or they hold the assumption that if one person can see IT everyone can. While there is a difference between learning to perceive beyond they physical and learning "to be" there are certainly similarities. One of them is that to learn to do either likely requires changing or shifting some beliefs
Along the path to both being or seeing lies the challenge of gaining more conscious control over the mind. Both require requires personal growth to align the mind and dump the baggage in order to quiet it and loosen its hold over us. It is easier to learn "to be" more than it is to perceive some of the non-physical aspects of reality. To do the latter, that is if one was not born with the ability to see, means overcoming requires us to overcome beliefs that block perception and then developing the awareness this enables.
In every incarnation, genetic anomalies aside, we have arms and legs; however, while we are capable of perceiving beyond the physical our ability to do so must be developed (4). In terms of shifting from always doing to a state of being it is not a matter of learning so much as unlearning and retraining our minds. We must unlearn the false notions of self we have taken on such as the idea that it is not possible to escape the never ending cycle of doing. One way of getting past this is for us to start accepting that it is not only possible "to be" but that it is also beneficial. Such beliefs reduces our resistance to the idea, though we should recognize that we may need to overcome other beliefs we have taken on. The other part is something that is beneficial to us on its own, namely training our minds weakens their rule over us and also results in their being more aligned with our core being.
There is virtually no way for someone to do this for another. It is impossible for me to get you to believe you are more than your mind and that the reality it creates is an illusion, nor would I try. This is a discovery each of us must make for ourselves. All I can do is point you to the door and share ideas that I believe will help you open and go through it. No matter how convincing my points may be or how much faith you have in what I am saying YOU must choose not only to open and walk through it, you must also choose to see it in the first place.
Learning "to be" is something that occurs gradually though we may not notice it or we find ourselves having an epiphany in relation to it. Such epiphanies are the result of sudden clarity due to a steady erosion of the barriers we had created between us and ourselves. What we are doing when we are learning "to be" is reconnecting with ourselves. We cannot do this so long as hold to the notion that what our physical senses tell us is the only reality and that we are the "I" in Descartes famous statement of "I think therefore I am." It is not essential that you accept that you are not your mind as an absolute truth, what is needed is to be open to the possibility.
Accepting that there may be more to us than our thinking or even experiences suggest is simply logical. We know the mind can never know the absolute truth, truth is always subjective. Hence, it is no more logical to believe there is more as to believe there is not. As they say, the absence of proof we are more than our bodies, emotions and minds is not proof that we are not. Our truths are based on our perception of things and not the underlying truths themselves. Further we are limited by our scope in that we cannot see or know everything hence what we know or believe today can be overturned by what we discover tomorrow. Once we accept that our view of what we are is subjective and could be wrong we can allow ourselves to explore possibilities.
Of course we must be motivated to explore such things as there is no financial gain to it, it won't make us more popular nor will it necessarily help us resolve our issues. What it will do is provide something the mind itself can never provide, a growing sense of wholeness. It is also worth considering that if we are not just our mind and we never bother to seek the rest of what we are not only depriving ourselves of so much, we cannot be "whole".
The path to learning "to be' lies in exploring the unseen world within us. Along this path there are hurdles to overcome. We must grow as people, learn to not be ruled by our emotional reactions to experiences and gain greater control over our minds. We must start to let go of the mental programming that helps keep us locked into the cage created by our own thoughts.
We have looked at one reason we get stuck in mental cages, namely the very beliefs we hold do this to us. Besides the restrictions created by our beliefs we add others. We need to also get out of the rut of doing as integration or processing our doings is where needs and wants come from (5). Most needs we take on are the creation of our minds and are not actual needs. Actual needs are those required for our personal survival. I am referring to food, water and shelter. These are needs driven by the bodies our consciousness inhabits. All the other needs we have are ones we have created. Reducing needs is, as they say, a tough nut to crack. However, if we work first on the easy ones and change some needs into preferences we are loosening the bonds that restrain us.
Other thoughts that make it harder to be are judgmental ones. One often finds the thoughts that lead to being this way are supported by or based on erroneous notions of self. They keep us locked into the programming in our minds and prevent us from feeling and experienced our connection to ourselves and everything around us. Our core self does not judge as we do nor does it need what we come to need and want. So long as we are judging, comparing and needing we remain out of alignment and being remains elusive.
Working on being less judgmental helps us to become less conditional and more open minded. This makes it easier to notice and deal with misaligned thoughts and facilitates the development of higher emotions such as caring, compassion and affection for others and we begin to love with fewer conditions. The reason this helps us is because the conditions we apply to such things are programs in our minds that keep us locked into the illusion it creates. Further, they reinforce the false perception of separation. We may think we are in control of our minds, but for most of us this is an illusion, it is the other way around.
In order "to be", to get closer to or attain a state of being, the mind centric view of self has to be greatly reduced. What also has to go are firm beliefs that we do not have what I have referred to as a core consciousness and higher aspects and that if we are not thinking we are not conscious. In the end it does not matter what reality is like, our minds create their own illusions and they become thicker and more tangled over time. It becomes very difficult to experience something your beliefs say is impossible. This is what I mean when I referred to having a mind that is based on beliefs and notions that more aligned with our true nature and the Cosmos we are part of.
As daunting as what I am suggesting may seem, and indeed it can be, it also means the power to learn "to be" is in our hands. It is not dependent on what others do and they cannot stop us from doing it. We are the only one that can hold ourselves back. We have to be work on not living through our minds and there are many ways to do this. Any activity we engage in that reduces our reliance on mind, that quietens it, helps us. It could be such things as yoga, being creative artistically or intellectually, spending more time in nature and simply appreciating it or any feel more than think techniques and so forth. Even volunteer work and giving of ourselves to others helps. However, the methods that work most on directly on this are practising mindfulness and meditation. I include yoga with these two though it depends on what form of yoga one practises.
We are talking about taking up activities that narrow our attention and turns it within or helps us feel connected to ourselves and the world around us. This is essential if one one wants to shift more into the realm of being rather than doing. I am sure there are many techniques I have not mentioned or am unaware of that can help. We should also start to pursue our passions for no other reason than that make us feel more than think. We tend to have a great many thoughts going on all the time and such things help us narrow our attention. You can almost see it when you watch an artist an athlete and so on who is in the moment expressing themselves through their craft.
What these types of things do is help us to start to bridge the gap between us and ourselves. When we do this we project less into the future, become less concerned about the past and more in the moment. This helps us to align our thoughts with the nature of our higher aspects so that our core or, as some would put it, "true self" can shine through. When we are more in the moment we set aside thinking. When we do this we are being. We may struggle do to this as we a natural tendency to cling to thoughts as if they are required and without them we are nothing. It can be hard to fully grasp that we can be without thinking or doing so long as we identify ourselves with our mind because the mind cannot fathom our existing beyond it.
Think of those moments in your life when you felt the pure joy of being, a moment of startling clarity, perhaps being in the now for a period of time, no matter how brief, and consider the experience. What was going on at that moment? What were you doing or thinking or not doing that helped you to feel that way? I am suggesting you take some time to consider these questions because while each of these types of experiences should be accepted as they are or were we can also learn from them.
I have mentioned some of the key challenges to learning "to be". One that I have not mentioned is that most people have no idea what they feel like as their only awareness of self, besides distant memories from their youth or the odd moment of pure intuition, has been from living in and through their minds. This is where meditative techniques are invaluable. When the mind is quiet, and our attention no longer distracted by its constant doing, our inner self or core consciousness can be felt or sensed. Unless one has lifted some or all of some of the veils I referred earlier our higher aspects are still dim just as the heat of a sun barely warms the surface of a remote planet. However, it is there. By working on our judgments and needs and get better at withdrawing conscious attention from the mind the brighter our inner light shines through.
In my years of teaching meditation and helping people with this I have found that many become disenchanted when they cannot seem to sense or perceive anything but their thoughts, emotions and the physical reality around them. I can talk and write about being but there is nothing I can write that can directly help you perceive or feel your higher aspects. It is not hidden as it is always there but I suppose you could say that if it is hidden it is hidden in plain sight. All I can do speak about it in a way that can paint mental images, ones that may help you to find a way discover it for yourself. To this end I would like you to set aside your thinking for a bit and use your imagination.
All things have what you could refer to as a fundamental or characteristic vibration. The same applies to us as a whole as well as to each of our separate aspects such as our physical, emotional, mental and those part of our higher self. I would like you to imagine that each of your aspects has a characteristic vibration, like a musical chord. These characteristic vibrations of our lower bodies are not individual emotions or thoughts, they would be more like the sound they all make together. Now imagine these chords being played simultaneously and relative to each other are more vibrant or louder the more active and attentive we are on one level or another. Further, consider that when any of these aspects out of alignment noise is added to their vibrations. For most of us this means that the vibrations of our lower vehicles, compared to our higher ones, are far louder and end up being the only ones we hear or notice.
We tend to live in and through our physical bodies, emotions and thoughts because we are not really aware of our higher aspects let alone being capable of using them consciously. This makes being elusive. Going back to the idea of each aspect being represented by a characteristic vibration or chord it makes sense that to hear the chord(s) from our higher self we need to silence or at least quieten the others. The question becomes "How do we silence aspects of self."
The question I just asked is the heart of the matter. We have already seen that we cannot shut off our lower vehicles, which would be synonymous with silencing them. No matter what we do our minds will have thoughts, thoughts that will also activate emotions within our emotional body. We should not try to do this, instead we need to learn how to withdraw conscious attention from them. This is a way of silencing these chords through disconnected our attention from them. This is essentially learning to focus our attention (6), which is a skill that can be developed through such practices as yoga, mindfulness and meditation. The ability to focus our attention is a skill we need in order to excel at anything.
Being able to focus is directly related to our ability to withdraw attention from any of the chords or aspects of self. If I want to focus on one of several things I must exclude all but the object of focus from my attention, both consciously or non-consciously (of course the latter is challenging unless one is fairly mentally conscious (1)). This is like letting go of distracting thoughts. In our example this means I ceasing to pay attention to our bodies, emotions and thoughts.
If we have an awareness of the chord(s) of our higher aspects we can focus our attention there. In this case our task would be to work on letting go of our attention to the lower ones. The problem most of us face in doing so is we lack familiarity with the any chords of our vehicles, save perhaps our physical one. We tend experience them all at once and separating them seems like a hopeless task; however, this is not the case.
We start by learning how to focus our attention. Yes, it does take some effort to learn to do this. What helps us is continuing to practice any of the methods I have previously mentioned. For the moment let us assume you can do this and so try to imagine disconnecting your attention from each of the lower three chords one at a time. You can get an idea of what I mean by focusing your eyes on something very close and then shifting your focus from an object just in front of you to one a little further and then again to one even further away. The objects in the foreground have not vanished, just like our bodies, emotions and thoughts have not, they have only ceased to be objects of your attention. If we do this with our vehicles what remains, after we withdraw our attention from our lower vehicles what is left is are the chords of our higher vehicles or self.
It should make perfect sense that the more we disconnect from them the more the higher aspects will stand out, even if we have not developed our higher awareness to any significant degree. This is something we can also do in meditation. That is we can withdraw our attention from our lower chords and try "to be" in the moment. You could refer to this as "tuning out" from or "letting go" of them.
If you meditate and in the process put yourself into a good meditate posture by grounding, clearing and centering then you are already on your way to learning how to withdraw your attention from the lower vehicles (these topics are covered in the Spiritual Development section of the core Twin Powers material (7)). Of course it takes time to learn to do this enough to hear the chord(s) of your higher aspects, but if you persist you will, even if only for short periods of time. Being persistent lengthens this period of time.
At this point you may be wondering "How will I know when I am feeling or hearing my higher aspects?" and "How does this help me with being more?" if you do not know what your inner self feels like? In the first question I am referring to having conscious perception of ones higher aspect(s) and it is a question I cannot answer for you nor can I help you to get an answer in this article. It is easier to facilitate this in person, that is if you already know what it feels like and are empathic enough to sense when another is doing it you can point out when someone is. This is what I did in the meditation classes I taught. In those classes I could tell my students when they were actively working with energy, shifting their energy field or when they feeling or connecting to their higher aspects. What I couldn't do was tell them what they did to enable it, the way they perceive it or point out the vibration to them. This is because while we all perceive the same things be they physical objects or the non-physical, our perception of them is unique.
At first when I pointed out that they were accessing their inner awareness or self or were working they were not sure what they were doing that made it possible or even what they were perceiving. If you have ever looked for something that was right in front of you but somehow did not see it you understand what I am talking about. We met every two weeks and so I had the benefit of being able to do this on a regular basis. The result was that they eventually they figured it out. When they finally "got it" it was not the result of their thinkings, what they did was learn how to allow the awareness.
It is important to remember that our inner core self does not "think thoughts", nor does it speak in words. Thoughts are constructs or vibrations in matter of the mental sub-plane, ones our brains translate into words. We learned to view the world through our thoughts and minds and come to rely on this view. We allow our mind to interpret and understand virtually everything and most cannot imagine existing without them. We can learn to shift our attention so we are more able to perceive our core self or being and do not rely on our mind. When it comes to perceiving ones core aspects all I can suggest, when you feel you have done so, is that if you think you have done it you probably have not. Keep working at it until you know you have with, as my father used to say, a capital "K".
The second question is one I can answer, or rather explain. When we are able to start feeling or hearing our higher aspects we are touching our core being. This is not something we do with our mind though I know it can appear that way. As a result, attempts to try and perceive our other aspects using our mind is doomed to failure. We are perfectly capable of perceiving and having perceptions without its involvement at all. We can be without thinking; however, we are not accustomed to doing so. It is like always wearing glasses and forgetting you have them on to the point where you have even forgotten how to take them off.
Most of us have simply forgotten not just how to do it but that we can do it at all. This is why practices that reduce our reliance on thinking, such as those mentioned earlier, help us to remember what we have forgotten. The real key is learning to withdraw attention from our lower vehicles, our bodies, emotions and thoughts. When we do this we start to perceive our core being and gradually learn "to be" through it rather than solely relying on our minds. Someone who is enlightened does use their mind, though they would see it the same way you would view someone driving a car. Just as you would not confuse the driver of a car with the car itself, they do not see themselves as being their bodies, emotions or mind.
To get to the stage where one is mostly in a state of being is a gradual process, it is literally the work of lifetimes. Meditation is one of the best ways to further this process and to learn how to withdraw our attention from our lower vehicles. It is easiest to do with our physical self; however, we can do the same with our other two aspects. I say this even though it is trickier and takes a little more effort and focus for a number of reasons. Arguably the biggest reason is our bodies are pretty much static during meditation, which makes it easier to withdraw attention away from them. Our emotions and thoughts are not so static as there is a constant stream of active thoughts and emotions going on as well as the interplay between them.
While it does take a concerted effort to improve our ability to withdraw our attention from our lower vehicles everyone can do it, to varying degrees. It would be far easier if our minds could be silenced, but they cannot. Be that as it may, the more we do things that further the process I am referring to the more we are able "to be" and shift away from always doing. We should not expect earth shattering changes to occur quickly, though this can happen.
We know that "being", the one that animates the mind that is behind the masks and illusions. There are brief moments when we all being and we experience our inner vitality. When we do the moments lengthen, our being expands and we feel euphoric or blissful. And this is the realm of being. However, I think most us know we should not let our doings consume us and that we spend far too much time doing things, and this includes thinking. Much of our doings are of no consequence in the grand scheme of things and our minds become burdened by thoughts and programs that do not serve us. But we rarely purge them. They keep us on the treadmill forever spinning our wheels. We will not get off it unless we act to reduce our reliance on our minds.
We follow urges and wanting we do not understand. We define ourselves in contrast to others, concern ourselves with what others think or how we might appear to them and so on. If we want to learn "to be" we must get beyond such mental constructs. This means doing such things as examining why we feel the need to do this or that, to follow, avoid, give in or even care what others think about us and so forth. For we cannot cease doing such things until we understand why, consciously resolve the issue that gave rise to them and let them go.
We were NOT born to live our life for others or to give ourselves up to them. Those who would have you do otherwise do not have your best interest or highest good in mind, they have their own. All of these kinds of things are merely noise. They, along with the needs and wants we take on, only serve to distract us and keep us locked into the illusions our minds create. All these doings of mind keep being illusive and beyond our grasp. However, as I have mentioned, there are ways out, ways to find the corner in the round room of our minds. The more we reclaim ourselves from our minds and their doings the more aligned we become with our true nature. This is because we begin to express ourselves from our higher aspects without relying on mind. By doing this we are started to learn "to be" rather than stuck in our minds forever doings. In the process we realize we are not working on finding the corner in our round room, we are learning that there is no room.
We are all capable of so much more than we believe and even more than we can imagine. We will never find out what are capable of so long as we remain lost in our minds. While I have mentioned such things as yoga, being mindful and meditation as practices that can help us learn "to be" more they are not the only ways to do this. We can also get closer to being by acts tend be ones that are in alignment with our true nature rather than being ego driven.
Going for a walk in nature without any purpose in mind and simply appreciating the natural beauty all around, offering help to or loving others without conditions, being gracious, listening to others with the intent to understand rather than reply, by "stopping to smell the roses" and so on help us. When we do these things we find feelings welling up within us that make us joyous and happier and this is one of the results of learning "to be". That joyous almost blissful feeling is not really a feeling it is us.
When we are more in a state of being we can do amazing things. We become more in tune with not just ourselves but with everything and everyone around us. Things that bothered us before can become like water on a ducks back. We feel more at ease and comfortable with ourselves and life. As our relentless concern for self fades we find ourselves more willingly and able to help others. This is because when we are in a state of being we intuitively know the right things to say or do. This is just part of what makes learning "to be" so incredible.
You would be wise if, as you read this, you realize that at the core of what I have been talking about is letting go. It takes no special knowledge or a bunch of facts to do this nor is special training a necessary requirement to achieve it. Anyone can learn "to be" by without reading what I write. The reason I do write is not because it is the only way to accomplish this or because it is necessary to know what I share to do so. I write what I do to inspire people, perhaps give them some hope and because some minds take a little bit of convincing that it is possible to attain and beneficial. What I write can make the mind aware of possibilities and even the reasonableness of the concepts.
Learning "to be" more and do less is not something one attains overnight, it is acquired in degrees. It cannot be given to you or bought and there are no short cuts. It starts with knowing or at least believing we are more than we appear to be. If this is followed by actions that help take us away from always thinking and doing the rest will follow. There is no magic to it all. The magic, if there is any, is within us. We are so much more than we know and to ignore it is to miss the very best part of ourselves.
"My mind is the only thing barrier between me and thee ... "do" less and "be" more"
© 2015 Allan Beveridge
Last updated March 9, 2020
- Becoming Conscious (reference to the main page for this series) - http://thetwinpowers.com/en/section-2-growth-fundamentals/becoming-conscious-the-power-of-perception
- Nurturing the Future Part 1: Baby Steps - http://thetwinpowers.com/en/nurturing-the-future-part-1-baby-steps
- Exercise 1: What Do I Believe? - http://thetwinpowers.com/en/section-4-exercises/ex-1-what-do-i-believe
- Awakening Our Gifts Series (link is to the first essay) - http://thetwinpowers.com/en/awakening-our-gifts-part-1-the-face-of-our-challenge
- *Preference versus Need - http://thetwinpowers.com/en/preference-versus-need
- Awareness Series Part 2: Developing our Ability to Focus - http://thetwinpowers.com/en/awareness-series-part-2-developing-our-ability-to-focus
- Spiritual Development section of the Twin Powers Website - http://thetwinpowers.com/en/section-3-spiritual-development