Is being the best you can do?
I was talking with someone last night, before an online meditation, and they pointed out that I am still wrestling with doing and being. So I thought I’d take a look at that out loud.
There are many references, in contemporary spiritual books and videos, to the idea that being is enough. just by embodying in the material world is plenty. And I accept that. But there’s still a part of me that feels the urge to do something while I’m here.
But doing seems to conflict with being.
Being, to me, brings to mind what you might call active living. (But without the need for activity.) By which I mean, to be alert/aware/attentive… and that’s it. You bring your attention to whatever is happening in your immediate experience and… And nothing. If a response is needed, and you are alert, without relying on anything that has happened in the past, the most appropriate response will happen.
That’s fine. I get that. I have even lived quite attentively at times, and there is tremendous space and freedom and peace that comes from living like that.
I suppose where I’m currently living (in the countryside, with very little human contact) means I am searching for things to happen in my immediate experience. One way to make this happen is to do something.
Do what? What does the world need right now? (Future readers may need reminding that this is early 2021, during the Covid19 pandemic, just as countries are beginning to vaccinate.)
It makes sense to do something the world needs rather than something just to occupy my mind or hands. But the world itself seems to be transforming. Many or most occupations may become redundant. Most of them are unnecessary anyway. Or damaging in some way.
I had a thought this morning, that the petrol engine is only a little over 100 years old. In that time, its use and overuse has brought this planet to a point of existential crisis. The polar vortex collapsed in the last week or so, disrupting weather patterns in this hemisphere. And I have no idea what the planet needs right now.
Doing has done that.
What I’m looking for is something to do that does no harm.
Which brings me back to being.
Being, in a sense, is a doing. Because everything is connected, by being peaceful, you can materially affect the whole. It’s the step beyond John and Yoko’s ‘Imagine Peace’. It is ‘Be Peace’. The phrase “be the change you want to see in the world” meets the thing everyone has said they want at some point: World peace.
You may have heard the story about the hummingbird and the forest fire. It flies to the watering hole and scoops up a drop of water in its tiny beak, flies to the fire and drops the water onto the flames. The other animals say, “What are you doing? You can’t put out the fire.” And the hummingbird tells them she/he is doing what he/she can. When the world is on fire, every drop of peace counts.
That’s an answer of sorts. I will probably revisit this, because I’ve been wrestling with it for years.
For the moment, until it is clear how else I can help, I shall do being.
All the best to you and yours, and thank you for reading.