Being and Doing

The cycle of doing has as its goal to create an event in which a specific problem is solved. Ways of being also create events but they are ones in which certain qualities can be nurtured.

Some people go fishing to catch fish. But many go fishing to be fishing. There is a quality which arises in their awareness when they are on the banks of the river or lake or ocean and they watch the line and feel the tension and just wait.

Some beginning meditators get anxious about whether they are meditating right. This is normal. But meditation is not a way of doing; rather it is a way of being. Whatever arises is what arises. Meditation is simply observing in an attentive way whatever it is that arises in our awareness, and then letting it go. It is not trying to fix it or solve it or understand it. Simply observe, and let it go, and see whatever next arises.

There are many schools and forms of meditation and there are many things we do which are meditative which may not ever be identified as such. What they all have in common is that they provide an opportunity for us to step back and observe. We move to a location in our own interior from which we become a witness to our own experience.

We function best when we have a balance between our doing and our being. If we spend all of our attention on doing we get a lot done, but we can be overwhelmed by anxiety. If we spend all of our attention on being we are able to be at peace... but we never seem to get anything done. The trick is to find an appropriate balance.

The pace of contemporary culture in the developed world is one in which everyone is pretty much busy doing. This has been a shift from what we most often think of as "primitive" cultures in which much time and attention went to simply being. In today's world we don't have time to just be.

It is possible that the now ancient notion of keeping a Sabbath--setting aside a day each week to just be--came from the observation of how human relationships are damaged by a move to a more work intensive society instead of the more laid back existence of hunter-gatherer bands.

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