Confronting ones beingness is not always easy. It can be very painful. It causes a great strain within the self. This is not surprising for the confrontation of beingness is when the self is ‘put in the spotlight’. The self becomes the focus that everything rests, that life sits upon. In beingness the pressure is put upon the self like a great weight. This is part of the reason why successfully confronting beingness is so important. This pressure on the self seems to create a lot of the ‘general ache’ and suffering of life (which often has no apparent “cause”). As such, we are confronted by it more than many of us realize. All of us experience this ‘general ache’. It’s always there. Many of us go to great lengths to try to avoid it. But, yet it remains, like some cloud that hangs over our head. It also has the quality of a ‘motive force’ in life. In trying to relieve the ‘ache’ we ‘do’ things in life, we act, we experience, we live. As such, the ‘ache’ becomes critical in the living and experiencing of life . . . nothing to look at lightly.
Despite the pain the ‘general ache’ may cause, it is generally a good sign. It’s like a sign post directing us to life. The problem is knowing where to go and what to do. Because of the pain of the ‘ache’ we tend to focus on THAT – the pain – and how it makes us feel and in attempts at relieving it. But the ‘ache’ cannot be relieved, it cannot be ‘cured’. This means that we are on a hopeless crusade when we try to relieve the ‘ache’, which is what we all do.
In general, I’ve found that the ‘ache’ tends to show we are close to our beingness, which means we are closer to ‘life’. In fact, many times it seems that the closer you are to life the more you ‘ache’. This fact tends to lead us astray, as we tend to think that ‘life’ is ‘pleasurable’ or fulfilling in some way. To say that ‘life’ is an ‘aching’ seems contradictory . . . it doesn’t seem right.
But the ‘ache’ is only a sign of a burden placed on the self – it shows that it is happening. When a beam takes weight it, too, aches in its own way. It strains and compresses, taking its load. The ‘ache’ is something similar. Life also places a strain and compression upon the self when living. It causes a ‘stress’, a pulling and a yanking of the self.
Normally, we think this pull and yank of life is caused by events in life, the happenings – marriages, jobs, children, responsibilities. These are a pull and a yank of sorts, caused by the situation of life. But I speak of the more base pull and yanks: in awareness. In just being aware this pull and yank is more frequent and of a greater intensity. It is in awareness that it all begins: of the world, the self, beingness . . . the ‘ache’.
THE BEGINNING OF BEINGNESS
Beingness begins with awareness. Watching infants, I have always felt that the confrontation of awareness is often ‘annoying’ to them, causing many to cry and kick up a fuss. It creates, perhaps, a ‘sensory overload’ upon their little unformed minds. These are minds that have never been ‘exposed’ to awareness before. This fact shows that awareness, from the beginning, has with it a ‘painfulness’ and difficulty. It’s no wonder that this same quality persists throughout ones life, being that it begins with it. In fact, some infants will try to ‘not be aware’ to avoid this ‘overload’ and pain, often by as if trying to remain asleep. But, the fact of awareness presses upon them . . . they have no choice. This shows a first attempt at ‘avoidance’ of this pain. This ‘avoidance’ goes on all our life.
But this awareness is more than being aware, of being receptive to the world. It’s more than just an ‘openness’ to the world, of a taking-in. The awareness expands, as we grow, to a sense of our self and who we are. We become aware of our actions, our doings in the world. Slowly, this turns into an awareness of our self-in-the-world. This becomes beingness.
THE NATURE OF BEINGNESS
It seems that, in beingness is awareness of everything – the world, the self, events, happenings, etc. – as an entirety, a ‘fact’. Beingness makes everything ‘all’ and ‘together’, as a single entity. Therefore, in beingness life becomes ‘whole’ and ‘complete’. It is not fragmented or partial.
Some of us are more sensitive to beingness than others. Some of us feel it more, and struggle with it more. Some of us seek it deliberately. Some of us avoid it. There are many reactions to beingness, varying from person to person.
In my opinion, beingness is more profound and ‘deeper’ than any knowledge or idea. It is something experienced. It is lived. I tend to feel that all thought, all conception, all belief sprout from a sense of beingness, that it is their “soil”, their homeland. It’s for this reason that I tend to value a sense of beingness more than any conception or idea. It’s also why I tend to frown upon ‘intricate conceptions’ and ‘fancy manipulations of ideas’.
BEINGNESS AND WHAT FOLLOWS
Since beingness is the ‘beginning’ there are things that follow it, that come from it, sprouting like leaves. I generally look at beingness, and what it creates, as having a ‘priority which goes like:
first priority second priority third priority
The ‘beingness’ is experiential, a doing which is without words, without concepts. It is primarily an awareness. ‘Inspiration’ is the natural expressions of beingness. It is the ‘coming forth’ of beingness as an act. It is a doing, like beingness, but it is also a creation, which makes it more than an experience. These creations include writing, thinking, art, music, how one behaves in life, and so on. ‘Creations’ consist of what inspiration created. Once something is created, it is a separate entity. As such, it becomes removed from beingness and inspiration. It becomes an independent entity or, so to speak, a ‘dead object’ without beingness and inspiration. Because of this a person must be wary of ‘creation’ as it is often misleading and illusionary. It is only a ‘thing’. It is not inspiration or beingness. A good example of this are people who are too ‘logical’. They get wound up with the intricacies of logic, like putting building blocks together. Like a web they get tangled up in it and, in a way, lost. There is no inspiration or beingness in it. It is ‘dead’ and ‘mechanical’. This is something to be avoided.
One can compare these three qualities to the act of painting. ‘Beingness’ would refer to the awareness of the “something” you would like to paint. That actual act of painting, as it happens and in the process of creation, is ‘inspiration’. The finished painting is the ‘creation’. From this analogy you can see that the ‘creation’ is just the finished product, the result of ‘beingness’ and ‘inspiration’. Because of this you can see why it takes the least priority, as it is actually the least important.
TWO FORMS OF BEINGNESS
There are two forms of beingness:
- Casual beingness.
- Deliberate beingness.
We all confront a ‘casual beingess’ at various points in our life, where a sense of beingness is ‘felt’. It is naturally appearing. It comes and goes, a fleeting sense. Despite this, these simple, and often rare, senses of ‘casual beingness’ can greatly affect a person. This simple awareness of beingness can cause a person to look at their whole life, review it, and how they feel about life. It can make a person make certain decisions in life. It can be profound. It can be life-changing. ‘Casual beingness’ is far more important in a person’s life and growth than we realize.
The ‘deliberate beingness’ is something only a few people take. Here people will deliberately seek beingness. In other words, taking the experiences of ‘casual beingness’ they go further, seeking it, trying to experience it further, to embrace it, to know it. I tend to feel that it is naturally appearing. In other words, some people are inclined to it. If you are not inclined to do it then it seems it does not work well – it seems that a person cannot ‘will’ the tendency to ‘deliberate beingness’. There seems to be two forms of ‘deliberate beingness’:
Occasional ‘deliberate beingness’ is something some people do occasionally. In other words, some people will seek it at certain periods of time in their life, perhaps a few times, perhaps at certain periods of their lives, etc. Once they gain it they ‘get what they need’ and move on in life. Constant ‘deliberate beingness’ is a rare tendency for some people to make a life out of it. By this, I mean it becomes a constant presence in their life and its quest often defines their life and actions.
DIFFICULT REACTIONS TO BEINGNESS
When one confronts beingness many reactions are found. Often, there are difficult emotions and can lead to all sorts of psychological problems. Many difficult emotions people have origin in the sense of beingness.
- A generalized ‘ache’, ‘pain’, or unhappiness in life, that often seems to have no cause. It’s not uncommon for people to ‘make up’ causes for it.
- A tendency to cry.
- A feeling of being alone-in-the-world.
- A feeling of being trapped.
- A feeling of being scared.
- A tendency to be annoyed by things.
- Feelings of despair.
- Feelings of dread.
- Feelings of anxiety.
- The horror of being a someone-in-the-world.
- A need for a safe place.
- A feeling that one can’t find ones place in the world.
- A need for direction (a feeling of being lost).
Feeling devoid of life
- A tendency to feel bored.
- A feeling that one can’t concentrate or focus on life.
- Feelings of being stupid.
- Feelings of being empty.
An inability to achieve life
- A feeling as if one is halted in life, as if we hit a wall.
- A feeling that life is passing us by.
- A feeling that one can’t grasp life, that one cannot put a ‘finger on it’.
In many ways, these are all representations of the self being ‘put on the spot’ but, being unprepared, our self struggles, causing these reactions. We must remember that beingness precedes the self. This means that the self is usually unprepared for beingness. As a result, it is always being ‘put on the spot’ and a strain is caused within our self. This ‘self-lag’ causes a lot of the ‘ache’ that is often felt with beingness. But this is one of the advantages, as it often forces a change in our self, that moulds it to a new form.
OTHER REACTIONS TO BEINGNESS
There are many other reactions to beingness.
- A sense that life is ‘amazing’ or ‘miraculous’.
- A sense of ‘awe’.
- A sense of ‘timelessness’.
- A sense that life is in front of us.
Changes in one’s self
- One does not feel the same.
- A feeling that there is a change in oneself.
- A sense that what a person was some time ago is a different person than one is now.
A sense of a mysterious ‘something’
- There’s a sense of something that moves oneself and the world.
- A sense of a mystery in life, that one cannot understand the world and, more importantly, that this mystery is a wonderful thing.
- A sense that there is something ‘more’.
A sense of being-there
- One feels a living thing in the world.
- There’s a sense of ‘I am here’.
A joy in just being
- One feels a joy in existing.
- There is a great contentment in being aware of oneself.
- There is a great contentment in being aware of the world.
- A joy in the doing.
Many of these reactions often lie ‘hidden’ under emotions, and are often disguised by them. In fact, most of the time these reactions seem to be hidden. As a result, many of us feel these feelings but are totally unaware of them. In fact, my experience is that many of these feelings lie hidden below difficult and painful emotions that can seem contradictory and opposite in quality. This is why, in the discovery of beingness, one finds that what was painful is actually joyful. It’s a good reason why, when we confront difficult emotions, we should ‘plough through them’, as there is often something good behind them. This means we should try to not let difficult emotions stop us.
ON HOW THE SELF IS NOT IDEAS AND CONCEPTS
This confrontation with beingness shows that the self is not what we think. It is not about conceptions, ideas, beliefs and formulations. In beingness these seem to have no place. Beingness is about us as-is, about an awareness of ourselves and our self-in-the-world. It is wordless, without concepts. I mention this as there is a natural tendency to look at everything in life in concepts of thought and ideas. This, though, only tends to alienate us from our beingness. I’ve found that the more a person stays within the realm of ideas the more they put up a wall against beingness. This means that to get close to beingness a person needs to be without ideas and thought. Beingness is not “thought about”, it is experienced. This fact, I believe, must be understood and practiced in dealing with beingness.
PRACTICING ‘DELIBERATE BEINGNESS’
Several things are required, I think, to practice ‘deliberate beingness’:
- A person must of experienced the sensation of beingness, the ‘casual beingess’. In many ways, one seeks beingness, like a chase. This means one must of felt it. This means interpreting beingness correctly and not mistaking it for another emotion.
- A willingness to unlearn what we’ve learned in life. Because beingness is experiencing life at its simplest it is like a ‘regression’, a ‘going backwards’. A person must be willing to go backward.
- Patience. It takes time to practice beingness . . . months, years, a lifetime. Things don’t just happen overnite. It seems that nothing with beingness happens quickly. It seems very slow. As I always say: “beingness moves as fast as the sun”. You may think the sun moves fast but go out and do nothing but watch it move all day long.
The practice of beingness requires several abilities that a person must have:
- The ability to silence ones mind and become thoughtless.
- The ability to lose a sense of ones self, of what you think you are, what you feel you are, etc.
The beginning practice of beingness is in silencing ones mind. This always begins any practice of ‘deliberate beingness’. If a person cannot silence ones mind then a person cannot practice beingness that easily. As a result, a person should sit and try to silence ones mind. I would say that it took me about 10 years before I felt I had my mind sufficiently silenced.
The things that must be silenced include:
- Thoughts. There must be no thinking, no reflecting, no remembering, or any other thought processes.
- Emotions. There must be no forms of emotions or feelings.
- The inferring. This is a term that refers to ‘movements’ of the mind that are ‘inferring’ thoughts and emotions. That is to say, this is thoughts and emotions before they become thoughts and emotions. They are as if just under the surface, like a thought or emotion that isn’t quite formed yet. These are often more of a problem than the thoughts and emotions themselves.
We must remember that a person cannot completely silence ones mind. This is not natural. What one is trying to do is to silence the superfluous aspects of the mind, and stuff that is only a hindrance. In a sense, it’s a ‘cleaning house’.
To me, a continuation of silencing ones mind is in losing a sense of one self. It almost happens automatically. Often, there is great fear in this as to lose ones self feels like we are losing who we are. This fear must be overcome. In many ways, that’s what we want to do – to dissolve the self, to make it disappear. This self is the self we developed in the happenings of our life. It consists of all our reactions, learnings, experiences, etc. that we have happened in our life. This self has a lot of ‘stuff’ and ‘excess baggage’ on it that is a hindrance to beingness. We need to ‘rid ourselves of this self’ to discover our deeper self – beingness. We want this deeper self to appear, which is hidden underneath the self our life has created. This ‘discovery’ of our deeper self makes beingness a form of a ‘rebirth’.
To me, the practice of beingness consists of two qualities:
- Sense of self-in-the-world . . . practicing awareness.
- Sense of passion . . . practicing the yearning.
Both of these make up practicing beingness.
The practice of awareness
After silencing our mind, we must remain aware, open our self to whats about us. There are different forms of this awareness.
- The awareness of mystery. This refers to an awareness of the mystery in life, that it is ‘beyond us’ and cannot be explained – it is wordless. It, really, is an awareness of god.
- The awareness of the world. This is referring to an awareness to all that is about us, the physical world, our situation, and such.
- The awareness of self. This is an awareness of our self, that we are in-the-world.
- The awareness of the interior self. This is an awareness that there are deeper aspects of our self within us, hidden, mysterious, elusive, unknown, that move us, often without our knowing.
Notice how there is an acknowledgement of awareness of ‘unknowns’ – both the ‘mystery’ in life and the mystery of our interior self. In reality these 4 forms are like a circle with these mysteries joining, completing the circle. This is because there is an association between the mystery of the world and the mystery within our self. They are really variations of the same sense. Looking at it this way, we see two forms of awareness:
- The awareness of what-is-not-there: unknowns, mystery.
- The awareness of what-is-there: knowns.
This, in a way, is like being aware of the knowing and the unknowing, being aware that you know and that you don’t know. It is just as important to know that you don’t know than to know.
The practice of awareness must be done ‘in silence’, as if gazing upon these facts, embracing them, holding them. A person must as if be ‘suspended’ before them without any thought. I sometimes speak of this as being ‘transfixed’. This is generally difficult as it feels like you are doing nothing, wasting time. Not only that, one mind tends to wander here and there making it very difficult. In many ways, it’s an exercise in concentration, of holding ones mind constant. It takes years to do it proficiently.
The practice of the yearning
Being aware holds our mind. It sets the stage, so to speak, for the real work of beingness: passion. Beingness affects us with passion. It moves us with passion. It changes us with passion. Through passion, I believe, the work of beingness is done.
There is a tendency, though, to think that only the self-in-the-world (awareness) is beingness. Passion has this ‘knack’ at being left out. I often feel that this is a common male thing to do, as males are generally not easily ‘swayed’ by passion, necessarily, and tend to be more ‘mechanical’ in mentality. This makes them more likely to look at the ‘mechanical’ and ‘dead’ aspects of beingness (awareness, knowing, unknowing). We should avoid this tendency and go beyond that.
Without passion there is no beingness. In passion is the force, the ‘movement’ of life. I’ve always said that despite all we do and what happens to us there is always a ‘force’ that keeps us living, an ‘energy’ that keeps us looking out to life. Even when we are at our lowest, there is ‘something’ that keeps us wanting to live even though we may not be aware of it. This ‘something’ is passion. It is a loving, a yearning. Being a force it ‘seeks’. In practicing the yearning we experience this yearning, this want of life. We open ourselves to it, embrace it. There seems to be phases in the yearning:
- The ‘want’. This is a sense of wanting something. It implies that we are ’empty’. As a result, we often feel deprived, wasting away, and such. As a result, it often makes us unhappy at first.
- The ’embracing’ of passion. This is when we become accustomed to the yearning, the ‘want’, and passion that we feel it as a ‘static force’. That is, it is just there, we are not wanting it.
By passion I do not mean emotional passion. Passion is without emotion, but it can create it. Passion is a mysterious ‘force’ that pushes my self and awareness in the world, my beingness. As it progresses within our self, this same ‘force’ continues and causes inspiration. It makes us do things, experience, and create things.
Practicing the yearning or passion is not as easy as it sounds. In many ways, it is the most difficult aspect about it. Passion is like a force. As such, it has ebb and flow. When passion is low many of us become ‘dead-like’. When we are filled with it we can be overwhelmed by it. Trying to embrace it can be like trying to hold an ember in one’s hand.
Analogies of beingness
I often view beingness as a room (awareness) where the happenings of ‘life’ exists (passion). Both are required to create a whole, a world, a reality. We could go further and say that the ‘room’ is the ‘construct of our mind’, our world perception. Within that ‘construct’ life exists. In other words, in order for life to exist it must have a place. This is the duality of awareness/passion. One cannot be without the other.
I’ve also oftened compared it to having male/female qualities as awareness and passion are complementary, like the male and female. I also often say: “both make up the mother and father in life”. But the mother and father are incomplete without the ‘child’. My beingness is the ‘child’. As a result, my experience of beingness completes the triad by creating a complete entity: mother/father/child. This is the simplest and most basic constituent of life. As a result, I consider beingness one of the simplest states of mind. The mother/father/child of beingness is the mind and life at its simplest.
How they are like an exercise
To me, they should be practiced, much like an exercise. When one wants to develop ones muscles we lift weights, jog, and other things, all intended to develop our muscles. In many ways, the practicing of beingness is an exercise that is meant to develop muscles as well, but muscles of a different sort. Only by exercising them do we develop them.
I will practice each separately, at times, and sometimes both together. It’s not uncommon for me to sit for long periods of time and practice beingness.
To me, there are two forms of how it is practiced:
- The active form. This is when we decide to practice it.
- The passive form. This is when we occasionally practice it in the course of our life, from time to time, and in the midst of living.
I think that if a person does it actively, one cannot help doing it passively.
I’ve found that beingness becomes an overall awareness of the ‘presence’. This refers to the ‘presence of all’, of existence, which is the presence of god. In reality, practicing beingness becomes nothing but the practice of the presence of god. That is what it leads up to and becomes. But this is looking at god as more than a statement of organized religion. ‘God’ states the fact of ‘life’, a ‘greater life’ that is beyond us, a ‘mysterious life’, one that just ‘is’. It reveals that there are two forms of beingness:
- Beingness of the ‘all’, the ‘everything’ . . . the ‘greater beingness’ . . . god.
- Beingness of us-in-the-world . . . the ‘lesser beingness’ . . . self.
There are times when these are different and times when they blend together. Though they are different they are mutually the same.
ON HOW PRACTICING BEINGNESS IS REALLY CONTEMPLATION OR A FORM OF PRAYER – THE NEED TO EMPHASIZE THE SANCTITY IN LIFE
Practicing beingness is much akin to contemplation or a form of prayer. As with these, there needs to be a recognition and emphasis on the sanctity in life. This is because beingness gets to the ‘heart of life’, I think, and life is sacred. What we find is that beingness becomes a closeness to who we are, like a nakedness of ourselves. In this nakedness is our life and the ‘life’ of existence. Here we confront the ‘great life’, a sense of god. I believe that true beingness requires a sense of sanctity, that we are, in many ways, on sacred ground. Without this sense of the sanctity of life, beingness falls short. A wall is hit that we cannot go beyond.
The sanctity of beingess makes beingness human. It brings it down to the human level. Without it beingness is nothing but some abstract idea, a dead awareness. One could say that the great act of beingness is the embracing of this sanctity, this life. But sanctity states the ‘mysterious incomprehensible power of life’. It is not found in the ‘knowing’. Its found in the awareness of it and in the embracing of it.
In the experiencing of yearning we are really yearning for life, for god. In effect, this makes the practicing of beingness nothing but the loving of god – a prayer. This means that any practicing of beingness requires a person to look at their belief and standing with god.
DEALING WITH THE PAIN OF BEINGNESS
Pain is unavoidable with beingness. It is there. It will never go away. As a result, how one perceives and reacts to this pain is critical, as its such a common theme. In the experience of the pain of beingness a number of things can be done:
Embracing the pain
- Learn to endure the ‘pain’. Open yourself to it and experience it. This is far more harder than you’d think.
- Learn to embrace the good feelings of beingness, that is, when it is without pain.
Expressing the pain
- Feel ones passion – the yearning.
- Allow inspiration to happen – seek and express inspiration.
As I said above, the ‘ache’ of beingness is often a ‘motive force’ that inspires us to live . . . let’s use it! The strain on the self, in actuality, is a good thing. It is the ‘stress of the fact of life upon us’. The ‘pain’ can be compared to a stretched elastic band, full of energy, waiting to be retracting. In our ‘pain’ we are also bound of energy, waiting to be used. Because of this a lot of practicing beingness is in the expending of this energy . . . in passion, in inspiration.
THE IMPORTANCE OF INSPIRATION , OF HOW IT COMPLETES BEINGNESS
Beingness is like a ‘staticness’. It is just there. By itself, it is incomplete, a partial fact. But, in beingness, the yearning compels one to ‘do something’, an expression of beingness. The energy of beingness wants to give fruition, to create. The difficulty in silencing ones mind, in the practice of beingness, is reflective of this. In reality, it is beingness trying to expression. The expression of beingness I call Inspiration.
In inspiration things come out as if naturally, on their own, sprouting from the passion of beingness. Life ‘happens’. Awareness ‘happens’. Being ‘happens’. It is like a great outpouring of passion, of life, from within oneself. Life becomes alive. The world becomes alive. We become alive. Being filled with nothing but a passion, we sit like an ember, glowing-like, in life, which creates this need for inspiration. There are many forms of inspiration:
- A greater awareness of life and beingness.
- An act, a doing of something.
- Doing something creative (write, paint, etc.).
- Some form of expression of oneself.
- A desire to live.
- A desire to be someone.
In many ways, it is in inspiration that beingness reaches its height, that it becomes relevent in life, and becomes ‘purposeful’. This means that one must seek to express ones beingness.
ON HOW I DISCOVERED THE PRACTICE OF BEINGNESS
My discovery of beingness came naturally. That is to say, I did not read about it or hear about it. In about 1990 I went for a walk up a canyon. It would be the first time I ever hiked out into the woods by myself, I believe . . . it would change my life. As I walked out I kept feeling a ‘feeling’. I described it as a ‘presence’. This is a ‘something’ that is ‘there’, about me. I did not know what it was.
Days later, I kept feeling this ‘presence’. I felt what I called a ‘yearning’ for it. I was perplexed by this: why did I yearn for what seemed to be nothing? Eventually, I went and sat in the forest, feeling this yearning, wondering what to do with it. I finally closed my eyes and I did several things as if naturally:
- I blanked my mind.
- In the blanking of my mind, I seemed to lose a sense of my self.
- I became aware of the ‘presence’.
- I felt and embraced the ‘yearning’, feeling it alone, by itself.
I should point out that I felt the dilemmas of beingness too: couldn’t keep my mind quiet, questioned what I was doing, felt an ‘ache’, etc. These grew and grew as time went on.
Later, I would read about things and discover that there were similar acts being performed by people all over the world, and were generally associated with religion. I found that many had qualities similar to what I was describing. There is some resemblance to things done in Eastern religions (like Buddhism), but there’s also a lot of differences too. There are many more similarities with a form of Christian prayer, often called Contemplation, or Mystical Prayer. Probably the person that most resembled me, I thought, was Pseudo-Dionysius. He emphasized a number of things that I did:
- God (and existence) is incomprehensible.
- That a person should have a blank mind.
- That a person should feel a love (passion).
Like Pseudo-Dionysius, I put great value in the love or passion. This element seems to be lacking in many other forms of contemplation, which often seem to emphasize putting oneself in something like a trance. There are times where it can be trance-like but that’s not what it’s about.
I tend to view the practice of beingness something like a ‘thinking’. It is a form of thinking, of a dwelling upon things, but without words, without concepts. It is a ‘wordless thinking’. I see it as a complementation to my desire to think about things. This, also, is another similarity I had with Pseudo-Dionysius. He said there are two philosophies: positive and negative theology. These correspond to my ‘thinking’ and ‘wordless thinking’. Like him, I see these as supporting one another and that both should be practiced creating a ‘balance’ between the two.