To the reader: reading this article could be dangerous to your life, as you may have to reflect and question what you do, and why you do? And if you are willing to ask those questions…………...read on.
I have personally have done and have been doing, doing and doing lots of things, as an altar boy attending 2 masses a day and then attending hundreds of full-day veneration services, attending retreats, seminars, conferences, meetings, working as an executive in corporate sector, and then doing a national-level job (with a big company , big designation and big salary & lots of accomplishments), but lots of work, stressing out, and finally ending up at a hospital bed with the surgeon asking me what is blocking your blood flow? For which I had no answer, and he himself answered it’s due to the stress of doing lots of things!!! Then my eyes opened: what am I doing? Who am I? What makes me do what I am doing? That was the beginning of a new innings in my life, this time differently: doing nothing and let everything happen, accepting what `is’ rather than imagining what ‘could be & should be’. Funny, isn`t it? This cannot be the truth from a general perspective and it's being crazy. But hold on… I am still doing lots of things, but differently!!! And I do see huge changes in my life, in my perspective, in my health, and wellbeing, my livelihood, happiness, satisfaction, fulfilment, most of all: no fear of life or death.
So, what’s the difference between my first innings of DOING lots of things, accomplishing, earning accolades, rewards, name, visits abroad, promotions, v/s my second innings of doing nothing? That’s what I now call: BEING.
I am now am remembered of my forefathers Abraham, Moses, Elijah, and others who cried in the wilderness announcing the saviour of the world. They just did what they were called for, and did it just religiously, without any scruples or guilts or stresses. It is said Moses lived for 200 years!! What did they do differently than the common man does today? In reality, they never had the luxury of roads, transport, mobiles, but they had only one thing: conviction and passion to do what their inner being told them to. They lived each moment ‘AS IT IS’. Saul (Paul) did lots of things too before he fell off the horse and was awakened to a call within. He heard the voice and he responded to the voice. I am also reminded of my favourite saints St. Ignatius and St. Francis of Assisi, both of whom preached surrender and nature-inspired inner-driven lives.
My dad is an example of doing nothing, but only one thing: Pray. (I am not saying that’s what I want to do). But I never saw him work, except when he prayed!!! He would stretch his hands in front of the altar and offer himself to someone above. I am sure he must have been saying: “Take and receive oh Lord, my liberty, my mind, my memory, my understanding and my will”. I always saw him stand upright, walk slowly, speak very very few words in 24 hours, rosary in hand while he slept. That’s was the only work I thought he did. But yet, he brought-up 10 children, dedicated 6 of them to the church, and the rest four of us did exceedingly well in life. He did it. How? That’s the secret: ITS PROVIDED: Just by ‘being’. He truly is my role model for the stillness he displayed in his personality, his talk, his manners, his words and his deeds.
Doing is something all of us do, 24 hours a day…unending. But are we Being while Doing? That’s the secret I learned after my operation and my dad’s example. We do attend rituals, temples, church, visit the sick, attend meetings, conferences, speak, preach: but is it doing or being? That’s the question I ask. No doubt we are doing, we are accomplishing a mission on earth. But is it making a difference to our own life in `BEING’ what you are truly meant to be, thereby someone next to you getting influenced by your ‘being’ rather than your doing? Do people praise us because we have accomplished a milestone or do, they become or `BE’ due to our being what they are meant to be? Or are we doing something which we are supposed to do because we belong to a particular faith or community or society? Are we accomplishing what others want or what my inner spirit wants? In our education, training or bringing-up we are taught to ‘become something’ and not ‘be’, towards unveiling `image of God within us’. That’s the difference. `Being’ is about being attentive to the present moment to the extent of forgetting its purpose, intention, outcomes and consequences, thereby reveal our divinity within in our doing. You are just in it completely ‘present to the moment’, its `Zen’ experience
So, you may ask: what about the results and outcomes, and do we not work for results and outcomes? In `being’ one does not work with a purpose of an outcome. You become your doing. The beauty is: in `being’ you get dictated with an internal voice what exactly to do and say, at the moment, which we call the voice of `stillness’. It is being present as an instrument of nature. It is just being natural to the moment, just like the tree standing tall, receiving rain whenever it comes and be still whenever it does not and blow the wind whenever it blows. In ‘being’ outcomes become natural and spiritual, and in line with the divine plans. We do not have to struggle for it. It just happens the way it is supposed to happen. You are not the creator of what happens. You are just the creation of what happens. You just allow nature to flow with you and through you, without inhibiting. You become the outcome. You become the result. Period.
But there is something special needed for `being’ which is: STILLNESS. It is only in this stillness that being reveals itself for doing/action. Action comes out of our `being’. So, the ‘doing’ comes out of our ‘being’, the result of our ‘being’. And in the process, everything that one does flows out of ‘being’. That’s what we call ‘the divine will’ which is not human will or what is intended by the doer. We just become the instruments of ‘being’ to do things which are divinely ordained. St Ignatius prayer `Take and Receive’ and St. Francis prayer “Make me, a channel’ are clear examples of `being’ and not doing. We often mistake them for action, doing, accomplishing a mission, doing a project etc.
In today’s world, `stillness’ is not much in demand as we give importance to doing, accomplishing, building, running our life, not living our lives. Most of us feel useless if we have not accomplished a building, a project, an assignment, a target, and we are rewarded for what we do. In today's world, `stillness’ which is the voice-within is jumbled with noises, disturbances, interruptions, mobiles, which makes it difficult for being ‘still’. The voices within cannot be heard also due to competing multiple priorities. There is no ONE agenda, but several agendas on our minds, the mission of life is not clear or not convincing enough, it’s all over the place, not clear of the direction. We just run around, doing lots of things, ultimately still ask: who am I, why am I here, why do I do what I do? We go for mass, attend retreats, do our studies, raise children, build houses, build churches, but still ask: Who am I, and many of us end in hospitals or on death -bed to be asked: `WHO ARE YOU ANY-WAY?’
So, do we really want to DO or do we want to BE? That’s a billion-dollar question. As a family, community, society, organization , institution we have lots of things going on, lots of work done, lots of buildings to be built, lots of projects to be accomplished, lots of wealth to be gained, but yet we feel empty, dejected, disillusioned and worse still, people around us feel empty, frustrated, voiceless, powerless. Why? Why? Why? Its could be only because: we have failed to BE in what we did and accomplished or to people whom we served. The only solution is: LET OUR DOING COME OUT OF OUR BEING. Let it Flow. Allow it to flow. When stillness sets in us, action or speech subsides. There would be no need to preach. Just by walking around, people will recognize us “God’s People” not because we did something or are doing something but because we are JUST BEING. And so we have a choice: to BE or not to BE. Still, a choice has to be made. What about you? What’s your choice?
(The writer is a counsellor with expertise in Spirituality, Behavioral science, Leadership and Management Consulting in India. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org )
(Published on 03rd February 2020, Volume XXXII, Issue 06)