I began to read you long before I met you and confirmed my expectations: that your gifts for clarity, candor, and condensation are met with a genuine awareness of Grace, and of us human beings as mediators, in Nature, of a Grace that comes from beyond us.
I read you first in '48---that long ago pristine year of my starting out in Austin---I read you last on yesterday, '77, here on Wolf Pen mountain. You are the same---vision, authority, competency, with Grace and have graced me---in Baton Rouge, Princeton, Charlotte, New Orleans, Austin, and Wolf Pen. Where we've met (underground in the 60s) and (anywhere we could in the 70s) I join all your hearer-understanders in saluting How It Is as your ripest insight so far and ask for more if there can be more.
SOME THINGS BEING IS TO ME
Which is strange to say
Being is no thing
How it is
The way things are
BEING IS NOT NECESSARILY
How I was told it is
The way / wish it were or even
The way l now think it is
A secular name
To the fun of saying things
which anybody can know
but nobody can tell
The TO BE's which follow are expressions of some of the ways I have discovered reality to be. My premises are three: First, I believe that being is structured, that there is in reality a certain way which being is and works. Just as there are discernable laws regarding relationships between things, such as the law of gravity, so I think that being functions in a specific manner, that though its ways are more difficult to discern they are nevertheless equally existent and subject to analysis and study.
Historically, philosophy and religion have been man's organized efforts to understand and properly relate to the structures of being. My first premise is that while there are innumerable philosophical perspectives and religious theologies, there is in reality only one correct structure of being. Just as there is only one way things fall, namely, down, so I think there is only one way being works.
These TO BE's are the way I now think it is, especially in regard to human being.
My second premise is that things are forms which being takes. Things may be tangible or intangible, perceivable by the senses or mind, such as, objects or ideas. Being is always formed, yet never contained in the forms it currently assumes. Being is continually active, evolving, in flux, in the process of becoming new, even when it appears temporarily still. Thus its forms are always changing.
Thirdly, I believe that things are only temporal--subject to life and death, while being is eternal--containing both life and death. Things can exist without being. A thing--a form of being--only "bes" when it authentically reveals being-as-it-is. A form may thus exist, perceivable by the senses, and yet not be. Using "death" as a metaphor, we may say that such a form is "dead" insofar as being is concerned, even though it is alive physically.
For example, an idea may be active and alive in the world, taught and accepted by many, and yet be existentially dead when it does not express being-as-it-is to those who hold it. Or a person, so-called, may be active and alive in the world and yet be existentially dead when he is not truly human. To be breathing is not necessarily to be being. One may be physically alive and healthy and yet existentially dead.
Paradox is prevalent throughout the book. I regret this. I much prefer to speak without sounding double-tongued. However, to be true to reality as I find it, I must describe both sides of the coin. It seems that being requires looking at from opposite windows in order to gain a more accurate conception. So I must chance seeming, at times, to speak from both sides of my mouth.
For sake of clarity, if not accuracy, I have taken the liberty of projecting my limited vision in many areas on to its logical conclusion. Without having arrived personally, I have imagined the nature of full being, based on my current clues. To avoid redundancy I leave out "I now think..." before every sentence. Actually it is there.
I hope that my TO BE's will encourage you to examine your own. The issue is, I believe, crucially important, indeed a matter of life and death. Even if mine are wrong, I trust you may find them useful in facing your own grasp of being as it is for you.
I owe, first and foremost, Jesus. He, more than any other has confronted, threatened, challenged, and called me to being. But also Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Freud, Buber, Tillich, various of their disciples, living and dead, and many others. Finally, I alone am responsible for these TO BE's. Others have dared me, but I went where I would and can blame no one else.
One further word. My TO BE's were collected and written over a long period of time. I now find reading them all at once very difficult to do. If you happen to be like me, I recommend reading only a few at the time and then sleeping on them--or forgetting, if you prefer.
TO BE IS
TO BE A-LONE-ONE
TO BE ATTACHED IS
NOT TO BE
When I was born, the cord attaching me to my mother's body was cut. In that instant I became a-lone-one, separate and apart from everyone and everything else in the world. I became an individual, a one, a centered expression of being. From infinite being, via the world through my parents, I became finite being--human being.
I could not become myself as long as I was attached to my mother. Birth, and the severing of the cord, were essential in my becoming one in this universe. Even though I continue to draw my life--breath, food, and inspiration--from that which is beyond me, yet I am separate and unique. I am not the same as any other form which being takes. I am, indeed, a-lone-one.
So it is with all being. Even though other forms of being, such as trees and plants, appear to remain attached, drawing their sustenance more directly from the world which births us all, they too are one. Even as I am, each flower, tree, and plant is unique, a separate individual in this mysterious universe of being.
None of us can be without embracing our essential separation and division from the rest of what is. This isolation is the basis of identity and the door to becoming who we are. So long as I cling or lean, or remain attached to my mother or any symbolic replacements of her, I cannot be myself. Attachment precludes being.
Aloneness unaccepted is a great pain. We call it loneliness. Our common temptation to try to return to the womb, to escape loneliness through absorption or attachment, is understandable. Yet to fall for it is to miss being.
To be is, first of all, to be a-lone-one.
TO BE IS
TO BE A-PART-OF
TO REMAIN SEPARATE
IS TO DIE
Paradoxically, I can be a-lone-one without being attached, yet I cannot exist without also being a-part-of all that is. I can only be in being itself. I must both be apart and a-part-of at the same time. Though unattached, I cannot remain isolated without dying.
Just as the body, though not attached to the air it breathes, cannot remain apart from air without dying, neither can one who would be exist apart from being itself. To be is thus to be involved in the world where I am, without attaching myself to it. I must be in the world, but cannot be of the world.
Though an engaged participant, I must always relate in an unattached manner. If I am a-lone-one in the presence of nature, I will participate in each immediate event, such as, the sun setting, as though I am a-part-of the happening. Yet I will be involved in the setting sun without losing myself in it. I will be both a-lone-one and a-part-of whatever occurs.
If I meet a person I will become involved in the encounter, a-part-of the present event; yet I will do so without attaching myself to him. I will be a-lone-one with him, and thus a-part-of the event of our meeting, but I will remain essentially unattached.
Existing in a group of any kind--a family, club, company, organization, religion, community, or nation--I must maintain the same basic stance if I am to be who I am. I cannot remain isolated from the worlds in which I live without dying, nor can I lose myself in either of them without ceasing to be. I must always be a-lone-one who continually chooses to be a-part-of.
TO BE IS
TO BE MEETING
NOT TO ENCOUNTER
IS NOT TO BE
The dichotomy of being both a-lone-one and a-part-of is resolved in meeting. As a separate one, aware of my independence as well as my inter-dependence, I choose, whenever I am able, to appropriately encounter that which is beyond myself. Respecting my individuality and inevitable aloneness, as well as my ultimate involvement in everything that is, I try to meet the outer world in a timely way.
When I am, I neither retreat in aloneness, transforming it into loneliness, nor flee to otherness, making myself dependent on, instead of apart-of. Rather I meet and stand with, intimately. For example, as a separate one, I might choose to meet a flower. Without abandoning my separation, I become involved with this fellow-form of being. Yet I do not become dependent on it. At any point in the encounter I remain free to close my eyes and nose, or to leave the place.
As separate persons we may also choose to meet each other, standing intimately together for a time. We may bring our aloneness into mutual proximity, experiencing a timely communion. Yet we do so without leaning on each other. Remaining a-lone-ones, we elect to share, to become temporarily a-part-of. Lest we attempt to flee individuality, however, each one of us keeps his hat in hand ready to part at the appropriate time.
To refuse to meet when the time is right is to negate oneself. To extend a meeting beyond its appropriate time is also an existential danger. To be both a-lone-one and a-part-of is to be both meeting and parting, each at its own proper time.
TO BE IS
TO BE HUMAN
TO BE GODLY IS
NOT TO BE
Our avenue to being is our humanity. We can only be through being human. To be human is to embrace human capacities, namely, gifts of being perceptive, emotional, thoughtful, sensual, and concerned.
Our calling is to perfectly--completely, wholly, and entirely--be who we are, that is, to activate each capacity to its fullest possible extent. We become ourselves in being as perceptive as possible, feeling as much as we can, using our entire mind, being fully sensual, and caring about everything.
When we are thus perfectly being, with our capacities activated and in harmony, we are capable of great freedom and responsibility. Yet we remain human and limited--finite and fallible. Our freedom and responsibility are circumscribed. We can do much, but not everything; we can acquire extensive information, but never know anything for sure; we may live for many years, but not forever. We may perfectly be all that we are, yet never become omnipotent, omniscient, or immortal.
When we presume to be either of these--that is, to be godly, we cease to be. When I live as though I can do anything I want to, have any absolute knowledge (know good and evil), or exist forever, I have taken the stance of a god. I am no longer human. I no longer am.
To be perfectly human is to embrace imperfection rather than attempt to become a perfect being. It is to accept and activate finitude and limitations, not to eliminate them. When I am human, I try, yet I expect to make mistakes, to often fail and sometimes succeed. I am not upset by an imperfect record; indeed, I may rejoice in mistakes, knowing they are a source of learning. I try to know as much as I can, yet am aware that my knowledge is incomplete. Not perceiving myself as omniscient, I am not threatened by not knowing. Nor is death an ultimate threat when I am human. I can live fully in the face of dying because I realize I am mortal.
We have the capacity for humanity, not godliness. To become who we are, we reach for the first, not the second.
TO BE IS
TO BE PERCEIVING
NOT TO SEE IS
NOT TO BE
I exist in the activation of my human capacities, the aliveness of this body--first, in the elemental processes of in and out--taking in air and food, breathing out and eliminating that which I do not need; then, in my wondrous abilities to sense--to personally perceive the inner and outer worlds. I exist in seeing and hearing, touching, tasting, and smelling. When I activate any sense, awarely, then I am perceiving.
For instance, when I am seeing, seeing is who I am. Seeing is not merely something which I, a separate entity, do; seeing defines my being just then. Seeing is not the only thing to be, but it is a primary form of being through perceiving. Likewise with my other sense capacities. I also become in hearing and touching. Conversely, not to sense when I appropriately can is not to be. For example, to be unseeing when I look is to be partially dead. To fail to hear someone is to be dead to him.
To perceive is to sense awarely. It is a high art, not to be confused with sensing only. I can look without seeing or listen without hearing. I can touch without being in touch. The mere impinging of stimuli in no way requires being. I exist in sensing only when I wholly perceive that which strikes my sense receptors. For instance, to be seeing requires more than opening my eyes; I must also open my heart, that is, all of me, else seeing is reduced to mere looking. This means that I must move beyond my pre-conceptions--my prejudices, judgments, and even my names--to see a thing as it is or you as you are.
Perhaps I will have a memory of some similar or related perception from a precious time and place. I may avoid seeing that which lies before me by looking only at my previous conception in my mind's eye. For example, when I face a man, instead of seeing this unique person in this time and place, I may only look at him, seeing dim reflections of an ancient father. Facing a black person, I may see only my own racial prejudices. Looking at a snake, I may see my own fear only.
Even a name can blind my vision, leaving me dead in looking. When I face my friend who happens to be named Fred, I must be careful lest I see only my memories of Fred, rather than this new nameless person before me. I have to remain alert or I will only look at a "tree," failing to perceive the living being before me.
So with all senses. To be is to perceive in any of my given ways. But it is to be in the act of perceiving that which confronts me, rather than simply recalling something which once was. Perceiving is always new. I can fully become in perceiving only when each of my senses is activated and in harmony with the others at the time--that is, when I am seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, and tasting as appropriate to the immediate circumstances. When I fail to perceive, I do not be.
TO BE IS
TO BE FEELING
TO BE UNFEELING IS
TO BE DEAD
I also have the possibility of being emotional. I cannot fully become myself without embracing this capacity also. Just as I can be perceiving, so I can be feeling. I can exist in feeling excited--or angry or pleased or afraid or warmed.
To be is to be feeling whatever emotion is given at a particular time--without judgment or possession--allowing this fluid capacity to move freely along the entire range of itself. To be emotional is sometimes to be happy, at other times sad; it is to feel confident or frightened, angry or delighted, hostile or acceptive, kindly or hateful--and sometimes: both/and.
When emotional, I literally am what I am feeling. I exist in the activation of that particular emotional capacity. If I am angry, angry is who I am just then. Anger is not merely a feeling which "I," a separate being, happen to have. It is who I am at the time. In reality I cannot have an angry feeling without first ceasing to be myself.
I may, at another time, be afraid; but being afraid is not the same as having fear. Humans may sometimes feel afraid, as when facing the unknown, saying, "I am afraid of the unknown," yet they do not escape into an imaginary self which possesses the fear, saying, "I have a fear of the unknown." To do so is to become a coward. Feeling afraid, though unpleasant, is affirming. Becoming a coward is deadening.
To be feeling is not necessarily to be doing anything. Acting-out is often but an escape from the experience of being emotional. When I am, I feel whatever emotion arises within me, yet I function responsibly.
When I am unfeeling, I am dead.
TO BE IS
TO BE THINKING
A CLOSED MIND IS
A SEALED CASKET
A large brain allows me to be more than perceptive and emotional; I can also be thoughtful. I can be remembering what has been and who I was; I can be imagining what will be and who I may become. I can be reasonable in the present, mixing memories and dreams for making sense and coping productively with this place. Every sensation, each emotion, can also call me to being thoughtful.
As with perceiving and feeling, thinking is who I may become, rather than something I do or have. When I activate this capacity for being, I literally am thinking. Thinking is who I am at the time. I am neither a separate thinker who thinks as a thing to do, nor an owner of thoughts I have. To have thoughts is to be dead, since possession requires objectifying oneself first.
Consequently, thinking--as all other forms of being--is always present tense. I can only be thinking right now, and each thought-event is new for me. A similar thought may have come to countless other persons or to me in the past, yet each time of thinking is new and distinctive. Being in this form is to be distinguished from worrying (recycling old thoughts), mental plagiarism (stealing the thoughts of others), or judging (passing sentence on things). Though these imposters often pass as thinking, they are but other forms of non-being.
Whenever I am, I am thinking--remembering, reasoning, imagining. When my mind is closed, I am dead.
TO BE IS
TO BE SENSUAL
TO BE FRIGID IS
NOT TO BE
Sensuality, the capacity for being passionate--excited or "turned on"--is another given human possibility which emerges from the union of perceptions, feelings, and thoughts. I can be in either of these elements or in this beautiful combination of all three.
Sensuality is a natural outgrowth of activating the more basic human capacities. To be perceptive/emotional/thoughtful is to open the door to excitement. Primary components of being are naturally culminated in this fulfilled mode of existence. If I take the chance of seeing, feeling in response to what I see, and opening my mind, I can expect to become sensual. Being is like this.
Sensuality is something to be, not to do or have or even just to feel. I can be sensual, but this is to be distinguished from doing something which might be called sexy. I can do sexy acts without being sensual, or be fully sensual and do nothing.
Nor is sensuality a thing to have, such as a trait or attribute. I cannot translate sensuality into a possession without first reducing myself to an object. This, of course, is suicide. While being sensual (existing in this form), I may speak of feeling sexy, yet this state of existence is far more than a particular emotion or feeling. It is a permeating mode of being which includes the three previously described human capacities.
What I do, being sensual, is an entirely different matter; but to escape the responsibility of being passionate by fleeing to frigidity is to cease to be human.
TO BE IS
TO BE CARING
NOT TO GIVE A DAMN IS
NOT TO BE
In reality things matter. To be in reality is to let things matter to me--all things. No thing, no form of being--person or plant, object or animal--can be placed outside the realm of my concern without excluding myself to that same degree from the realm of being. The only way I cannot care is not to be. To fully be is to care for all that I can perceive.
To care is to recognize the interrelatedness of all being and to relate responsibly to each of its forms. It is to care what happens and to seek to influence all events in moving toward expanded being.
Letting things matter can never be defined apart from individual circumstances. Sometimes caring appears as positive; at other times, negative. One who cares may at one time plant and at another time pluck up. He may feed and encourage growth or he may strive to prevent it. Often he will live and let live; sometimes he will kill or allow death without seeking to interfere, all within the scope of his concern.
In reality there is a proper time for all events, including death. To be concerned is to strive to be timely, cooperating as wisely as possible with the greater course of being, whether that includes generating or denying, living or dying.
Conversely, to exist without caring, to live as though nothing matters, is not to be. The way of this living death may seem temporally easier, but it is eternally damning.
Not to give a damn is to consign oneself to hell.
TO BE IS
TO BE FREE
TO BE BOUND IS
NOT TO BE
As a-lone-one, not bound or attached to any one or thing, I am free. My freedom is limited privately by my bodily capacities (I cannot fly) and publicly by my interrelatedness with others in my community, yet I have great latitude within these limits.
First and continually I am free to affirm or deny being itself. I am free to be or not to be. If I choose to be rather than to negate myself, I face the option of embracing my capacities for being human--to perceive, feel, think, be sensual, and concerned. I cannot choose who I will be--that is given--but I am free to decide if I will be who I am.
Alive and activated, I am free to do an almost infinite variety of deeds which emerge from my humanity. Within the limits of finitude I, in cooperation with others, can tend and guide the unfolding of the universe. As an expression of creation I am free to extend the continual drama of which I am a participant by shaping and developing new forms for being itself.
I am also free to encounter my fellow humans. In their company I am free to reveal or conceal myself. I may speak or remain silent. If I choose revelation, I may also select my means of expression--what, when, where, and how I will reveal who I am.
To be is thus to be free to live or die, to affirm or negate the human potential, to act and create, and to meet and reveal myself to others, within the limits of finitude and community.
Conversely, to be bound, not to embrace these freedoms, is not to be. I cannot be, for example, if I give up my right to feel my emotions, think my own thoughts, or make up my own mind. Society may set limits on my public deeds and expressions, but I must keep my choice to obey or disobey its laws or else I cease to be. Nor can I be if I give up my right to die by my own hand. To be bound, even to life itself, is not to be.
Whenever I abandon my right and power to do or not to do, to encounter or remain apart, to speak or be silent, to be or not to be, I escape being.
TO BE IS
TO BE RESPONSIBLE
TO ACT IRRESPONSIBLE IS
NOT TO BE
Freedom's second name is responsibility. To be free is also to be responsible. Though I may choose to be bound or free, once free I have no choice but to be responsible. I may act irresponsibly, pretending that sowing and reaping are not inextricably bound, but that is only to fool myself.
When I am, I am response-able--that is, able-to-respond. This is an inherent human capacity. Thus when I embrace freedom and become myself, I also choose responsibility.
To be responsible means to encounter all that is in relation to me in a manner productive to the greater course of being itself. It is to accept joyfully the inter-relatedness of all being; the fact that what one does affects the other, that no one of us exists in isolation without his influence on what is around him.
Though I may hide my eyes to the reality of cause and effect, acting irresponsibly, my blindness does not negate the truth. Thus blinded, I cease to be; yet the laws of sowing and reaping remain operative. Still I influence my surroundings and reap the reward or curse of whatever I sow, though I be blind to the fact.
To be responsible is to stand responsibly related to, without falling for ownership or authority over that which one responds to. I am, for example, a steward of things, but never a literal owner or lord. If I hold title to a piece of property, I am like a tenant farmer in charge of that which belongs to another. I am responsible, but I do not possess the land as though I were its god.
If I live with a pet, I am responsible to and for the animal, yet the creature is not actually mine. The objects within the house where I live are subject to my control, yet I can never become attached to them as though they are my possessions, without ceasing to be who I am.
To be is to be both free and responsible, spiritually unattached and yet choosing to respond as though the other were a part of oneself--since it is. To act as though I am not responsible is to abandon being.
TO BE IS
TO BE PURPOSELESS
Being is its own goal. It aims at nothing beyond itself. There is no purpose in being, save being itself. To be striving, even to be striving to be, is not to be. Thus the purpose in life, for he who would be, is to be without purpose.
Meaning resides only in the continuing events of being. To presume that meaning exists out there, inherent in the world or subject to finding by intellectual search, is to grasp after the wind.
To find the meaning of life is to discover meaning in each immediate event. To look for meaning beyond, behind, or outside what is now happening is but to escape life's meaning.
Any purpose or meaning which can be objectified, and hence subject to finding or having, is an idol in the presence of being itself. To worship at such a throne is to miss living a meaningful life.
In becoming, however, temporary goals are often feasible. Indeed, to be is a worthy goal when I have ceased to be. A healthy discipline is required for every resurrection. Even so, the aim of all appropriate striving is aimlessness.
The temporary setting of goals is only for guidance in becoming goal-less. I head in a particular direction not because there is a virtue in reaching a destination, but because it is a structure for becoming and a way of avoiding the pit of non-being. All proper striving is essentially negative in nature--that is, done to avoid non-being. Life is not found by striving. In winning, one loses, except when he runs as a way of avoiding purposes and reaching purposelessness.
Being is for naught, save the becoming of itself.
TO BE IS
TO BE DECIDING
NOT TO CHOOSE IS
NOT TO BE
One dangerous advantage of a big brain is the possibility of living by rote, dictation, or rule. One can endure until the grave by acting on the habits of childhood, the orders of others, or the laws of society. To get by in this fashion, however, is to miss being. The big brain also allows for choosing. This is the path of being.
At every juncture of life I face the option of deciding. I may run away by falling back on previous decisions--that is, by remaking old choices, giving up my human birthright for the porridge of the past. Instead of responding to the new situation (no two, though similar, are ever the same in reality) by deciding now, I can react by simply resurrecting an old decision, doing what I did before, pretending that then is now. I can function on automatic pilot, by habit. I always have my prejudices as an escape from the present moment.
Or else I can collect other people to supplant my past, telling me what to do. Advice, unfortunately, is always cheap. Regrettably, those who offer it never have sufficient information. Yet the world is full of those who will relieve me of the burdensome possibility of being human by taking over for me. Whether paid or unpaid, direction from without is easy to find.
Should both habit and direction fail at any time, always there are rules--religious commandments, civil laws, social mores, or local customs--to supplant personal choice. The illusion of right and wrong out there has persisted since Eden. With little diligence one may easily collect a sufficient body of rules to cover most every situation.
Even so, life by rote, dictation, or rule is but an escape from being. One who is, is continually deciding. He remembers his old learning, is alert to the opinions of others, and knows the law, yet does not abandon his human option. Realizing that every present situation is new and different from all others, that his own experience is never exactly the same as anyone else's, and that only he can hold the responsibility for being himself, he weighs his information in each instant and decides for himself.
Because not to choose is not to be, one who cares, continually decides.
TO BE IS
TO HAVE NO THING
TO HAVE IS NOT
Being profoundly is, but never has. Possession is impossible in being. Things can have things, but being can only be. In order to have, one must abandon being, making a thing of himself.
If I am myself I may be intimately related to and responsible for many things. I may be a steward of land, a keeper of animals, a caretaker of objects, a user of ideas, and a lover of people; but if I am to remain myself I can never possess any of them.
In order to own, I must first reduce myself to an object--that is, leave the realm of being. I must give up being myself and become a thing before I can have other things. Then I must reduce other forms of being to objects also, ere I can own them.
Things may be tangible (perceivable by the senses), such as land, objects, and forms of being (plants, animals, and people), or intangible (perceivable by the mind) such as ideas, concepts, beliefs, and knowledge. A thing is anything which can be properly designated by a noun or pronoun. If it can be named, it is a thing. Things can be owned and used; they can be had.
Being, conversely, can only be itself and responsibly encounter other forms of being. When I am, I have no thing, tangible or intangible. I own no object or idea. When I have something, I have ceased being someone.
TO BE IS
TO BE SOMEBODY
TO HAVE A BODY IS
TO BE NOBODY
I only exist embodied--that is, in the living of this body which you may see. I am somebody; in particular, I am this body. Literally, this body is the form and substance of me. What you see is the shape and material of who I am.
Though I exist thus embodied, I do not exist as a separate entity which inhabits or owns this body. In reality I can only be embodied, not an "I" who has a body. To presume myself to be such an entity capable of possessing a body is to become a nobody. Only things can have things. When I make a thing of myself, capable of having this body, I exclude myself from the realm of being. I can escape being by having, or be myself without owning a body--but not both.
When one flees being by assuming himself to be a disembodied "I," he may then exist as either a slave or master of his objectified body. He may be dominated by its needs and passions, or he may beat it into subjection, taking mastery over the unruly slave. Or else he may oscillate between the two, sometimes losing control of his wants, and other times suppressing them from awareness.
Whether one exists as a slave or master of an objectified body is incidental to the death which must occur before possession becomes possible. Ere I can own a body to obey or dictate, I must have ceased to be somebody.
Being somebody is only possible embodied; to have a body is to be nobody.
TO BE IS
TO BE SPIRITED
TO BE WITHOUT SPIRIT IS
TO BE DEAD
When I am somebody I am spirited. Alive, vital, and embodied, I am spirit personified. Infinite being takes shape in my finite being; eternal spirit is formed in my spirited existence. If you see me when I am, you see somebody spirited; not one or the other--that is, a body or a spirit, but both/and--spiritual body.
To be spirited is to be animated and inspired. Bodily capacities--perception, feeling, and thought--are infused, breathed-into, by the spirit of life itself. One is then enthusiastic--literally, inspired by God. He is awakened to sensations, warmed by emotion, mentally alert, keenly aware and interested in all that is. God indwells such a one and may be seen in him just then.
Conversely, to be without spirit is impossible. When one is not spirited, he has ceased to be. Though his bodily functions remain operative and he goes through the motions of living, it is a charade, an empty performance. In fact, he is dead. Being requires spirit.
Because of the structure of our language, I may speak of "having spirit." When one is truly spirited, I may say of him, "He certainly has spirit." Though grammatically correct, such a statement is technically inaccurate. Spirit is not subject to possession. One may be spirited, but he cannot have a spirit without reducing himself to an object which would be capable of possession. To do so is to lose spirit. To have a spirit is the same as existing without spirit. Both are impossible if one is to be.
When I am, I am spirited. When I either have a spirit or am without spirit, I am dead.
TO BE IS
TO BE BECOMING
TO HAVE ARRIVED IS
TO BE DEAD
Being is process--alive, changing. Being is drama--a continually evolving series of events, never static. Thus when I am being, I am becoming. I am in process; I am an unfolding drama. Always, when I am, I am coming-to-be. I exist in the continual event of being. When I am not becoming, I do not exist.
I am like a hurricane which acquires a name when her winds reach 74 miles per hour. "Betsy" exists in the event of the moving winds. She loses her name when the winds die down. In like manner I cease to exist when I arrive at any static point. When I get somewhere, when I stop going, I am dead. I lose my name, even if others do not yet know.
Thus the question, who or what am I to be?, can never be answered specifically. There is no particular who or what lying at the end of the path. The goal of being is not arrival but becoming. The challenge I face is to embrace the process of being ever new, without falling for th illusion of a static state. I can be, but I can never be a thing, an anything subject to definition.
I may be able to say, when I am quite aware, "This is who I now am." Yet by the time I say so, I may be different. I, like the moving winds of Betsy, may have evolved into a new form of being. I can never say who I will be, only who I have been or am now being.
Arrival is but another name for death; to be is always to be becoming.
In contrast with physical life, spiritual existence is by degrees. Physically, one is either dead or alive. Existentially, he may be dead or at any point on a scale graduated from "barely being" to "completely being." The metaphor of physical life is thus useful, but also limited in speaking of spiritual existence. Though being human is bounded by the beginning and ending of breath, within these extremities its range of possibilities is vast. The goal of being is to fully be, that is, to become all that one is capable of being, to activate the entire range of previously described capacities--to be perceptive/emotional/ thoughtful/sensual/caring. In regard to humanity the purpose of being is to be completely human.
Although the metaphor of physical life may be helpful in understanding being, one must be careful not to equate the two. A breathing body in no way implies the necessity of being human. Humanity only exists embodied, but the presence of a functioning body does not require being human. One may live as a healthy, two-legged animal without ever becoming human. In fact, earthly success may be more easily achieved by remaining animal only, never embracing humanity.
Caught between the inherent urge to being and the adopted drive for social success, we commonly opt out on the former in favor of the latter. We give up being in favor of achieving; we choose having rather than becoming. Humanity is sacrificed for the form of godhood. And we die as humans, remaining only as educated animals without spirit.
Consequently, becoming requires, for those who have thus died, that they first be reborn. As Jesus said, born once of water (physical birth), they must be born again (in spirit).
Again, however, the metaphors of death and birth must be used carefully. Existential death is also by degrees. In dying to spirit in order to more easily survive socially, we may not die completely. Our being may only be partially repressed or hidden, awaiting the chance for greater activation. Being born again is consequently a matter of degrees also. To the extent of one's death to being, to that same extent he must be reborn in order to know existential life.
TO BE IS
TO BE NO THING
TO BE SOMETHING IS
TO BE NO ONE
Things are the forms which being takes or has taken in the past. Things are like shells or bones which house or structure being, but things are not being itself. Thus when I am being, I am no thing. I exist in the categories of verbs and participles, not nouns.
Though I may be being and becoming, I can never be a being, or any other thing. To say "I am being" means that being is who I am. "Being" in this sentence is a predicate nominative rather than an adjective describing the subject I. It can properly be reversed: "Being is I." The meaning is that I exist in being and becoming, rather than that I exist as a separable entity which can be described as one who has the attribute of being. I, literally, am being. I exist in being, yet I am not a being. Technically, the article, a, can never be applied to me. I am not a (or an) anything.
There is no such thing as a human being; there is, in reality, only the process of being and becoming human. We may name this evolving process "a human being," for sake of communication, just as we may name 74 m.p.h. winds "Betsy," or the process of loving, "love;" yet in reality there is no such thing as love, Betsy, or a human being.
Things are useful categories for coping with circumstances or communicating with other humans. But there is no category of things, tangible or intangible, which can properly state who I am. My existence is in the realm of reality, the land of participles and verbs, not the graveyard of nouns and things. I am no thing. I am neither a human being--nor a self, a soul, an ego, or even an I.
To be something is to be no one.
TO BE IS OFTEN
TO BE WANTING
TO NEVER WANT IS
NOT TO BE
Behind all human reasons for activity--motives, purposes, excuses, justifications--no matter how noble, base, glamorous or dull, lies wanting. After all is said and done, the only real reason is because I want to. One may hide it, gloss it over with great purpose, give lengthy justifications or flimsy excuses, or pretend that it does not exist; still, to be human is often to be wanting. One may cloak desire, and partially be, but to exist without ever wanting is not to be.
To be wanting is to exist openly in regard to that which attracts one; it is to wish for, long for, or crave. When one is wanting, he experiences desire. His inward nature is in a condition of yearning. The what of wanting is incidental to the event of desiring.
Wanting is an inward matter, to be distinguished from any word, activity, or outward means of expression. One may want without saying so, doing anything, or revealing desire in any way. Conversely, one can speak words of desire, act-out wanting, even make a great show of craving, all without any measure of the inward experience.
One who wants may dissipate power inherent in the experience though the act of possession. He may try to escape the faith required for wanting by objectifying and having the source of attraction. The temporary relief of capturing a desired object only cloaks the suppressed desire. Always it is a long-range error. Killing want by possession is but another form of suicide.
Want is not a continuous form of being. One who is himself will often be without desire. Wanting comes and goes in the economy of living. Yet it is a significant part of being. To never want is not to be.
TO BE IS
TO BE OKAY
T O BE GOOD OR BAD
IS NOT TO BE
In reality I can be--that is, okay, but I cannot be good or bad without escaping who I am. Virtue or evil are options of gods or demons, not human beings. I may do that which is called good or evil, but I cannot be either without fleeing humanity. When I try to become virtuous or bad, I take on the image of God or Satan. To that same extent I abandon being. I give up who I am in favor of what I am not.
Thus, to be is to be shameless and humble, without guilt or pride, with nothing to hide or brag about. To be sure, one may have abundant cause for either. He may have sinned royally or accomplished much in the world, having legitimate reason for either shame or pride. Even so, in the course of becoming himself he has embraced forgiveness for his sin and divested himself of owning his accomplishments, negative or positive. Thus he can look objectively at all he has done, feeling responsible but not evil or virtuous for anything.
As long as one is trying to get better he has not accepted being okay and is thus not able to be. To be trying to be good is as sinful as trying to be bad; either prevents one's being himself, which is all that he can be in reality. To attempt to be perfect is the ultimate idolatry.
To be is to be okay, without being good or bad.
TO BE IS
TO BE PRESENT
TO BE OUT TO LUNCH IS
NOT TO BE
When I am, I am here, embodied--in my skin--that is, present as a perceiving/feeling/thinking/sensual/caring person. If I am with you, I am really with you. I am present both in body and spirit. I am sensitive to you as an individual. I respond to you emotionally and thoughtfully. I exist sensually in your presence. Consequently I care--about you, about me with you, and about what happens as a result of our being together.
On the other hand, if I am merely present in body but absent in spirit--that is, out to lunch where you as an individual person are concerned--if I am not seeing you (am not looking, am looking through you, or am simply staring at you), if I am not hearing you (am not listening or paying attention to what you say verbally and non-verbally), if my emotions are closed to you (if I do not risk being emotionally involved or feeling my own feelings with you), if I do not think about you, if I am sexually frigid toward you, or if you do not matter to me, then I do not exist with you. To the degree of my personal absence in any aspect of my human capacities, I fail to be present. When you're here and I am not with you, I have ceased to be.
So it is with every other person, plant, animal, situation, or place where my body is to be found. If I am at that time, I will be present with my humanity appropriately activated in the circumstances. Though unseen, I will be seeing. Though unheard, I will be hearing. Though uncared for, I will be caring. Whatever the nature of my surroundings, I will encounter them with who I am just then.
I have no choice if I am to be. To be is to be present. To be out to lunch is not to be.
TO BE IS
TO BE HERE
TO BE ABSENT HERE IS
NOT TO BE
Being is only possible for me here where I presently am. Embodied, and hence only able to be in one place (this one) at a time, I am limited to being just here. I cannot be elsewhere while I am here. For me, right now, there is no place else to be.
Consequently, when I am trying to be some place else, I am evading this place and thus am not fully here. When I have some place to go (as with any other possession) I have objectified myself and ceased to be (only things can have things, even intangible things, such as, a goal or destination).
To be, then, is to have no place to go. He who has some place to go cannot be just here. The issue is both geographical and existential. While striving to get to another location I am less than present in my immediate place. My thoughts and attention are partially focused on the place I seek or the process of getting there. In either case, they are unavailable for response where I am.
Even if my destination is existential rather than geographical, I am prevented from full presence here. Whether I strive for the state of bliss or the state of Texas, my resulting absence here is the same. For example, if I am striving to impress you, to improve myself (reach perfection), find peace of mind, or get to where I have it made (have arrived), I must direct my energies and attention to these goals rather than to where I am. To do so, to any extent, is to prevent my being completely here.
This does not mean that travel is inappropriate, either for body or spirit. But for one who would be, the trip is only a series of present places. Though such a person appears to be traveling, he is actually being in a series of here's in rapid succession. Even so, the longest journey is to this place.
TO BE IS
TO BE NOW
THE FUTURE IS NOT YET
THE PAST HAS ALREADY BEEN
In reality there is no time but now. If I am to be I must be in this present moment or not at all. Yesterday is over; tomorrow does not yet exist. It may never come. Even so, my options for being are always limited to the present.
Perhaps I will be granted the grace of a future. Still it will only come one instant at the time, leaving my options the same. To remain in reality, which is the only place to be, I shall never have a choice except the immediate instant. I will either affirm being now, or not at all.
The common illusion of being tomorrow, or striving today so I can be in the future, is but
an escape from the present. In like manner, returning to yesterdays in my mind but takes me away from my only option of fullest being. Certainly, I may partially exist in the activation of memory or dreams in a present time; yet I limit my being to only a minor part of who I am and risk losing the immediate occasion altogether.
To be now is to leave yesterday without running to tomorrow. To be I must let go of the past without clinging to the future. Either crutch denies my fullest chance to walk and run just now.
In regard to time, being is literally timeless. It cannot be measured by clocks or calendars. Being is eternal--that is, both never and forever. When I am being there is no time. Now is all there is. Clocks either stop for being or tick at an infinite pace.
Whenever I am, I am eternal.
HERE AND NOW
TO BE IS
TO HAVE NO PAST
TO HAVE A FUTURE IS
NOT TO BE
Since being is only possible here and now, one cannot have a past or future and still be. To the extent that one has either, he is owned by that illusion and proportionately prevented from being present.
For example, if I have a record, say a bad one, I must devote energy to hiding it (being ashamed); if I have a good one, I may be calculating ways to tell you about it (to brag) or simply caught up in feeling proud. In either case, powers necessary for being present are diverted to the past and hence prevent my being fully with you as I am.
In terms of ownership, having a past--good or bad--is just one more form of possession which, like all others, becomes an escape from being. Before I can be present, I must let go of all that is past; I must free myself from its bonds.
This does not mean that the past is negated, denied, or without its influences on the present. It rather means that one who is being lets it lie. He leaves it as it is. He lets the past be over so that he is freed to be present. Without attachment to what has been--that is, without shame or pride, the need to hide or display--he stands open to what now is.
Nor does he have a future which lays claims on the present. He has no place to go, literally, and though diligently moving toward some future objective, he does not own it, even in his mind.
Having no past or future, he is freed to be present, which is the only place and time to be--in reality.
TO BE IS
TO BE DOING OR NOT DOING
TO BE DOING TO BE
IS NOT TO BE
Activity is one form which being may take--one of its favorites, I think. Consequently, one who is being will often be doing something. He will, at such times, exist in activity, even as he exists at other times in stillness.
When he is doing, he literally is doing; doing is who he is just then. He exists as the activity at hand, rather than as a separate entity (an "I") who is doing the deed. He acts, but never becomes an actor apart from his acts. The doing of being in reality is radically different from the acting of an actor on a stage. In the first, the two are the same (the actor is the act); in the second case, the two are distinct (the actor does the act).
The same is true for not-doing. Passivity is another form which being may take. One who is being may also be idle--that is, he may be and not be doing anything. Since our language is based on doing rather than being, this real state of inactivity is difficult to express. Even when one is not-doing we may verbalize it as an activity, as by saying, "He is resting," or, "He is relaxing." In reality, however, in spite of the nature of our language, there is a true state of inactivity just as there is of activity. One can, literally, be doing no-thing, not even "resting" or "relaxing." When this occurs, he is being in the passive form.
He is then existing passively, as at other times he exists actively. Though he may be described as "doing nothing," this is technically incorrect. In being passive one is not doing anything. He is being as inactivity. He is not a separate entity (an "I") who is doing the non-deed of nothing. He is not, for instance, "a sitter" who is doing an act of sitting. Though he may be described as "resting," he is literally one who is resting, rather than one who does resting as a deed.
Thus, to be may be to be doing or to be not doing. In either case the activity or passivity is both the form and reality of the being itself.
Conversely, when being is made into an it (when "I" become an entity) and doing is transformed into a thing (such as, something to do), then activity becomes an escape from being rather than a form of being. To be doing in order to be is not to be. Only to be doing for sake of being is to be doing. Or, to be idle (resting, relaxing) as a thing to do is to escape being inactive through changing this form of being into a deed.
In either case I cease to be when I objectify myself and presume to have something to either do or not do. As with other forms of possessions (property, people, or beliefs), only things can have things. I have died when I make a thing of myself and doing, for example, if I make an act into a thing of which to be proud or ashamed. Thus the effort to find myself in an activity, to be me through having something to do, is inherently destined to failure. I may lose myself in busyness done for escape, but I can not discover who I am through trying to stay busy.
To be is often to be doing and to sometimes be not doing, but to be trying to act or not act in order to be is not to be.
TO BE IS
TO HAVE NOTHING
TO HAVE TO DO
TO HAVE TO DO SOMETHING IS
TO FLEE BEING SOMEBODY
When I am, I don't have to do anything. Since being is for its own sake alone, it requires no doing for justification. To be is enough. I may be in activity or passivity; I may choose to do or not-do, but I flee the realm of being when I act because of inward compulsion or outward dictation. One who is being who he is either does or he doesn't (literally), but he never has to.
Stated positively, being is always by choice. One can neither force being nor be forced to be. Any degree of necessity reduces the degree of choice, and to the same extent reduces the degree of being. Thus to fall into the realm of "have to" is to leave being.
Whether the necessity is inward, as in a compulsion to be neat, orderly, clean, on time, or responsible--or outward, as in an obsequious relationship with a parent, friend, spouse, or boss--the result is the same. Any measure of dictation decreases the possibility of being.
One may, of course, choose to function as though under the direction of another for pragmatic reasons--as an employee with an employer. This, however, remains an act for one who is being himself. He pretends to obey because it best serves the cause of his own being just then. At any given time in the act he is equally free to say no or to resign.
Because he has embraced the options of divorce, prison, and suicide, one who is being never has to be a slave to marriage, law, or even life itself. For him, no necessity precedes being.
In being, one doesn't have to do anything.
TO BE IS
TO BE ACTIVE
WHEN THERE'S NOTHING TO DO
TO BE IS
TO BE PASSIVE
THERE'S PLENTY TO DO
When one is being active--when being takes the form of doing--he acts deliberately, yet as though there were nothing to do. His activity is exactly as it would be if in fact there were no necessity, purpose, goal, or even reason for doing it.
For example, if one were vacationing on the seashore and awoke one morning with no plans for the day, he might choose to walk along the beach. If he were being in this activity, he would walk deliberately even though he had chosen to do it when he had nothing to do. All other activities of one who is being, even when purposes are lofty or necessity seems pressing, are equally deliberate, yet also equally free.
Viewed from an opposite window, this same state of being may appear as passivity in the face of mountains of seemingly necessary work. For example, if one were at his desk piled high with job assignments having pressing deadlines, he would be exactly as deliberate as the person on the beach. Perhaps his pace would vary, but inward deliberation would be the same.
Conversely, when one is being passive--when being takes the form of stillness--he is as de-liberate in his idleness as he would be with plenty to do. But passivity of being is not to be confused with the non-deliberate state of spiritual illness or death.
For practical reasons one who is being will often be active when there is literally nothing to do, or passive in the face of apparent demands for activity. In either case the choice will be his and he will proceed deliberately.
TO BE IS
TO BE GOING
WITH NO PLACE TO GO
TO BE GOING
IS NOT TO BE
Being is always in process. In being, one will often be going somewhere, headed toward a destination. The journey, however, is like any other activity--a form for being. One who travels is literally in route. Though he moves toward some goal, the journey is the event. He travels as a way of being rather than to being. While he may appear to diligently strive for a destination, this is an illusion. The end is, in fact, incidental.
He goes to be going, not to get somewhere. The experiences of a journey are his prime concern, even while he moves toward its end. If, for instance, he plays a game, the nature of the ending is incidental. He may appear to strive to win, as though winning were everything. Actually he will remain focused on the event of playing. Winning or losing will not matter to him.
If he heads for California, success, or heaven, the fact remains the same. Though apparently striving for arrival, he is in reality focused on the trip. The journey is it, not the getting there. Thus, if he doesn't reach California there is no cause for alarm or consternation. He was only using the end as a form for the trip. The trip remains the same, with or without the arrival. That he does not reach success or heaven in no way detracts from the experience of the journey.
Conversely, when one makes arrival the whole purpose of the endeavor--that is, when the going is only meaningful as a stepping-stone to the end, he has negated himself in the process. He is going to be, but is not being while going; this, of course, is not to be.
That being lies in the events of going does not mean that arrival, should it occur, will not be another special event. Like other events along the way, the final step will have its significance also. Yet it will not bear the entire meaning of the journey.
TO BE IS
TO BE FLEXIBLE
TO BE RIGID
IS NOT TO BE
Being is living and thus constantly subject to change. There is no permanent state for being. Being always takes some immediate form which may be perceived as rigid from without, yet continually remains flexible. One who is being may, for instance, be going to New York. The trip appears as a rigid form of being. At any point along the way, however, he may re-chart his course in view of changing circumstances. Though he heads for New York with deliberation, he remains continually flexible in reality.
If I am being and have an appointment at 2:00 p.m., I move deliberately toward keeping that appointment. To an outsider my movements may appear rigid or compulsive. Inwardly, though, I remain flexible, subject to change at any time. At 1:00 o'clock I may call and say I have decided to go fishing.
All being, though appearing set or permanent, remains equally flexible in reality. Being can never be pinned down. Even when being remains in one form for a long period of time, it has in fact been constantly subject to change.
For example, a person may choose to function in the form of a teacher, doctor, or spouse over a period of many years. Externally these roles may appear rigid or set, as though the person literally is a teacher, doctor, husband, or wife. Not so, if one has been. He may have repeatedly chosen to be in these ways, yet he was always subject to change. On any given Monday morning the apparent teacher might have headed for New York instead of school, the doctor have taken up welding, or the wife filed for divorce.
Being is forever flexible, even in regard to life itself. One who is being is not even pinned down or rigid about breathing. He chooses life just as he chooses any form for being. The option of suicide, being fully embraced, brings even the choice to be or not to be. To be is to be flexible about everything, including being itself.
To be rigid is not to be.
TO BE IS
TO BE ON THE SPOT
TO BE OUT OF PLAY IS
NOT TO BE
Since the only place and time to be is here and now, one who is being himself is always on the spot--where he presently is. He is committed to his immediate feelings, thoughts, beliefs, and goals. With full awareness that each may be different in time, he stands responsibly on the spot, representing every one of them to his fullest ability.
Aware that his feelings will likely change, still he risks each present emotion. Knowing that his opinions and beliefs will probably evolve with his experience, still he is committed to each in its present form. Suspecting that his goals will be different at another time, yet he strives diligently to reach them as immediately conceived.
Conversely, to the uncommitted, out of play, existing as though one were not in fact always on the spot, is not to be. Whenever one does not experience his current emotions honestly, represent his beliefs responsibly, and live striving for his immediate goals, he has effectively abandoned being.
Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, one being is continually in play. Every act is intentional; every word is for the record. Even when relaxed and going nowhere, he is attuned and responsive. He is never off-guard in the sense of being unready for the unexpected. Always he stands on his spot, open to miracle or destruction.
TO BE IS
TO BE HOMELESS
TO HAVE A HOME IS
NOT TO BE
In reality, houses can be owned; homes cannot. To have a home is to have objectified myself (only things can have things) and made a quasi-thing of that which exists in being only. Thus if I am to be, I must remain homeless. I may be at home wherever I am, but I can never have a home without ceasing to be.
The illusion of an owned home may be projected on a site of childhood (where one was born or grew up), on a country or state of one's origin, on a presently owned house, or even on the being of another person. One may call his parents' house "home," his territory of birth "home," his domicile "home," or say that his mother or spouse is "home to me." In either case he participates in an illusion insofar as being is concerned. Language-wise, either statement may be accurate; existentially, each is an error.
That which can be had cannot be in reality, nor can it be a place for being. I must let a place be itself before I can be myself in that place. Ownership eliminates either possibility.
True, some will only risk being while under the illusion of ownership. They will not take the chance of being at home unless they believe the place or person to be theirs. This double illusion does not, however, change the essential fact; it only conceals it. Though one feels that the place is his, or even holds legal title to the property, in reality he will only be able to be at home there to the extent of his spiritual freedom from possession.
Conversely, when one is being without having, any place is home. Wherever he happens to be is home just then. Though he be 10,000 miles from the place of his birth or without an acquaintance in a strange land, still he feels at home. In possessive language we might say that he carries his home wherever he goes; existentially, he is always at home because he is literally homeless.
TO BE IS
TO BE NAMELESS
TO BE NAMED
IS NOT TO BE
All being, even as God, is literally nameless. The nature of being is such that names are, by definition, inapplicable. Being is in flux; things are static. Names are designed for things, not being. Thus, when I am being I am nameless.
Names are useful tools for thought, communication, and coping. They work well with the forms of being. At any given point in time the forms of my present being can appropriately be named for either of these purposes. Such a pragmatic label is not to be confused, however, with who I am.
For instance, at a particular time I may properly be labeled with such names as minister, fisherman, father, friend, husband, or louse, depending on the form of my being just then. I may be further labeled with adjectives such as healthy, happy, paranoid, stubborn, religious, or heathen. Each of these, plus countless other names and descriptions, can be functional in matters of doing. None of them is more than temporarily accurate, however, in the realm of being.
I am, in reality (when I be), continually changing. Applicable names must do likewise. For pragmatic purposes in society I may choose to remain designated with one permanent label, Bruce Evans, but I must never be deceived into thinking that I literally am Bruce Evans. I lend that name to society as a means of our mutual coping with each other, yet I know that in the final analysis I am nameless. No label can touch who I am. At best, each is a functional handle, temporarily accurate. At worst, any name can become an escape from being if I fall for believing it defines me.
I am in flux; names are rigid. Finally, therefore, I must be nameless, or die in a name.
TO BE IS
TO HAVE NO ONE
TO HAVE SOMEONE IS
TO LOSE HIM
Being a-lone-one is literal in regard to other people. Just as the doctor severs the umbilical cord, detaching the child from his mother, so the human being severs the spiritual cord binding him to any other person. To be with others, humanly, is often to be intimately related, standing near at hand and heart; yet it is to be spiritually unattached.
I cannot have another person without making a thing of myself first and then the other person (only things can have things). Once objectified I can neither be myself, nor be with the other as person. We may be master and slave, user and used, or vice versa, but we can no longer be human with each other. Possessing another precludes being and meeting.
Consequently, if I am to be, I may be friendly, but I can have no friend. Though related by blood, I can have no parent or brother or sister; though married, I can have no spouse; though a parent, I can have no children; though loving, I can have no lover.
To be spiritually related to someone requires letting him go, giving up possession. Those I have, I lose. Only through freeing others can I become myself and meet when I choose.
TO BE IS
TO HAVE NO SOUL
TO BE ONESELF IS
TO HAVE NO SELF
Just as one can have no external possessions or people, neither can he own internal entities and still be. To be is to be becoming; to have an inside thing is to have already made an outside object of oneself and therefore to cease to be.
It matters not what the inward entity is named--soul, self, mind, ego, id, super-ego, or conscience--before I can own either of these I must have already objectified myself as an it capable of ownership. I must have made an outward thing of myself before I can own an inward thing. I must kill myself (cease to be) before I can have a self.
For example, before I can have a soul, I must perceive of myself as a separate entity (an "I") which would be capable of owning the soul. I cannot have a soul without first becoming an it which could possess the soul. In reality I be I, but I do not exist in such a manner ("out there") as to have ownership of a soul ("in here"). I can only accomplish this feat by imagining myself outside reality as it is. In so doing, I leave the world of being in favor of the fictional realm I have created in my mind. I exchange the real for the fantasied, being for a thing, life for death.
If I am to be myself, I cannot have a self (or a soul, mind, or ego). The two--being and having--are mutually exclusive.
TO BE IS
TO HAVE NO REPUTATION
TO HAVE TO IMPRESS IS
NOT TO BE
Whoever has a reputation to build, keep-up, protect, or enhance is to that same extent unable to be. Energies necessary for being will inevitably be diverted to the demanding profession of impressing others. One may be, or live to please others, but not both. One who is being himself may in fact be pleasing to others. In their eyes he may seem to have a reputation. This, however, is a by-product of being, rather than its goal.
Thus the deeds of one who is being will always be the form of his being at that time. They will never be acts performed for impression. He will do whatever he does because of who he is, not because it pleases others or attracts attention to himself. Without bragging or belittling himself, he will leave his work to speak its own message.
While doing any deed, his identity will remain with himself as doer, never being displaced on the deed itself. His work will thus be personal, but never the source of his personhood. Like the air he has breathed, each of his deeds will be intimately from him, but no longer a part of him. One who is being is unattached to anything he has already done. Just as he possesses no people or knowledge, so he owns no activities or reputation.
Consequently he never has need to ask or wonder "How did I do?," or to defend or explain anything he has done. Since his deeds were the form of himself at the time, rather than performances for impression, the nature of their reception remains incidental to him. Even if they were poorly received, he has no need to defend his actions since he is not attached to them. Though he did them, they are no longer who he is; they can neither add to nor detract from his present being. Old trophies or former sins are irrelevant to one who is. Compliments or criticism may be received, yet without affecting him. He may appreciate and learn from either, but they can neither elevate nor deflate him personally.
To be is to be revealed in activity, yet without attachment to it. To possess a reputation is not to be.
TO BE IS
TO HAVE NO SHOULD
TO LIVE BY OUGHT IS
NOT TO LIVE
In reality there is will and won't. Should and ought have no place in being. They are temporal tools of society useful in structuring a people or guiding a person, but they are strangers to reality. Those who are, choose; they either will or won't, but they have no shoulds to cloak their choices.
For them, all rules are rules-of-thumb, practical guidelines for charting a course. Laws, which become the basis for should and ought, exist for the protection of society and direction of individuals in the process of becoming themselves. Rules may be helpful in guiding one toward being, yet are not inherent in being itself. In being, there is freedom; laws are for getting there, or protecting one from those who are not going.
To possess a should is the same as having any other thing; it requires self-objectification and the loss of selfhood. Existing under the domination of an ought is not to live.
Using rules is different from having shoulds. The challenges of becoming, plus the acquired fear of being, make guidelines for the process extremely practical. Such rules, however, are always flexible, recognized as guides rather than dictators. On the path to will and won't, one may borrow should and ought to point the way, but he never surrenders his responsibility for choosing. Should, freely chosen, can be a useful ally; owned, it becomes a cruel despot, blocking the path to being.
To live by ought is not to live.
TO BE IS
TO BE KNOWING
TO HAVE KNOWLEDGE IS
NOT TO BE
When I am becoming, I experience knowing. I am continually in the process of encountering the world in which I live: perceiving, feeling, and then thinking--remembering, reasoning, and imagining--that is, making sense of my experience. I appropriate that which I encounter now into the wider world of that which I have met in the past, bringing the two into rational harmony. I unify my perceptions and experience, old and new. I know.
To be is to be continually knowing in this manner--computing events, affirming those which add-up, synthesizing the present with the past, abandoning previous knowing superseded by present learning, and accepting the mysterious. When I am, I am thus knowing.
Yet I can never have knowledge without ceasing to be. Although being is knowing, knowledge cannot be owned without transforming the human-who-is-being into an object-which-has-knowledge. While I am being, I may properly speak of what I have known or am now knowing. I may tell of the sense I have made in the past or am making just now (as I am doing at this moment). But I have moved into the realm of non-being whenever I presume to possess knowledge.
For example, I may say, "I feel this day as warm," as an expression of my experience. This is what I am knowing. However, when I separate myself from my experience and presume to have knowledge ("This day is warm") as though the knowledge is an objective fact I own, then I have escaped the realm of being. I am no longer being human in the world as it is. I may then use the "objective fact" to swell my ego ("look at what I know"), to prove that others who experience it differently are wrong, or to simply gloat in my false godhood. No matter, I have separated myself from experiencing and become the owner of knowledge. In so doing I have ceased to be.
So it is with all other knowledge. In reality I will be knowing, yet never having knowledge. All human knowledge is subjective and personal, never objective and capable of being owned.
The issue is possession, not grammar or accuracy. Within the structure of our language I can correctly speak of "having knowledge." The crucial matter of being is my knowing that I do not have it (am not a separate entity which owns facts) rather than the mere issue of how I use the English language. Nor is it a question of accuracy of knowledge. I do truly experience this day as warm. That statement is correct. I know I am feeling warm. Others with similar senses and experiences may also feel warm today. Yet I do not exist separate from this (or any other experience) and hence capable of owning the knowledge.
When I am, I am knowing. Then you may safely listen to me. When I presume to have knowledge, beware; I have ceased to be.
TO BE IS
TO BE UNCERTAIN
TO KNOW FOR SURE IS
NOT TO BE
Being finite instead of infinite, I am limited in my knowing. Omniscience is denied me as human. I escape being who I am when I assume any absolute knowledge.
When I am, I am certain of what I know. I can confidently affirm knowledge expressive of my experience. I can, for instance, declare with assurance, "I see this apple as red." Yet when I am, I cannot know anything for certain. Though sure of what I know, I can never know anything for sure.
Certainly I see the apple as red; that fact, however, only expresses my experience. It says something correct about my seeing, but nothing certain about the apple itself or the seeing of anyone else. A color-blind person may see it as brown. A bumblebee, perceiving other wave-lengths of light, may see it as ultra-violet. Even if all my friends see the apple as red, we can only speak properly of our similar experiences, not about how the apple is. We are not "right" because we are in the majority; nor can we know that color-blind people and bumblebees are "wrong."
To have certain knowledge (know for sure) about anything is to have added the sin of omniscience to the escape of possession. This is a fate worse than death. It is non-being.
I can always speak of how I have found it to be, but I can never declare how it is, without escaping reality. I can tell you what has worked best for me, but not what is right. I can speak of what has troubled me, but not of what is wrong. I can tell you what I like, but not what is good; or what I hate, but not what is evil.
If I remain human I may voice my experience, telling what I certainly do know, but I die when I take the godly step of presuming to tell how it really is (as will you, if you believe me). Stated in degrees, the less I am knowing (experiencing reality honestly), the more I am likely to claim that I know for sure; the more I am knowing, the less I am certain of. I conclude that ultimately, omniscience is death and uncertainty is where being is.
To be fully knowing would be to have no knowledge, including no ultimate knowledge of good and evil. The wisest among us know nothing, and in their spontaneous ignorance are freed to be all-knowing.
TO BE IS
TO HAVE ANSWERS IS
NOT TO BE
When I am, I answer. I speak myself back to that which is spoken to me. My being is revealed to that which reveals its being to me. To the given I respond with a gift of myself.
I may answer with words or silence, depending on how I perceive the question. If I hear yearning for that which can be said, I give in words. If I hear yearning for that which can only come from oneself, I answer with silence. For those who ask from the latter but demand from the former, I sometimes give a verbal non-answer in order to continue the form of our encounter. I answer without answering, lest they leave our meeting before the proper time for parting.
Or else I may answer with my eyes. Often they can say the most. Or with a smile or frown, a nod or a nay. Sometimes answers are best given by touch. This is especially true when one wants to know that which only he can answer.
Answering, however, is not to be confused with having an answer. Only the dead in spirit can possess answers. One may listen endlessly to another who answers him in each present moment; yet the wise flee those who have the answers, or else they hear such lost ones without listening to their words.
To have answers first requires leaving reality by way of objectifying oneself. Naturally such a displaced person is in no position to answer. Though he may give neat, logical, verbal, rejoinders to your questions, frustrating your curiosity, he cannot answer you, the person, since he is not one himself.
To possess but a few answers is to partially be; to have all the answers is to completely miss being. Answering is only possible to the extent that one has no answers. To fully be is to be answer-less.
To live is to live with the question.
TO BE IS
TO BE RIGHTEOUS
TO BE IMPROPER IS
TO BE WRONG
In reality there is a proper time and place for every act. One who is being human moves with integrity, doing everything appropriately. In so doing, such a person is righteous. When there is no proper thing to do, the righteous person remains inactive--that is, he does nothing, with integrity.
Righteousness is thus related to place and time--to where one is (personally and with others), as well as how things are just then (the nature of circumstances). Right and wrong can never be defined apart from persons in place and time. What is right in one place may be wrong in another; what is wrong at one time may be right at another; what is proper to do or say with one person may be improper with someone else.
In reality there is no such thing as a good or bad thing to do apart from the integrity of a particular doer and the timeliness of his deed in a certain place. So-called "good things to do," may become wrong when done for improper reasons or at an inopportune time. So-called "bad things to do" may become good when properly done with integrity at an appropriate time.
For example, intercourse, either social or sexual, becomes right or wrong depending on the integrity of the persons involved at the time in that place. Such a righteous word or act cannot be defined by rules of grammar or laws of society, since these take no account of personal wholeness or proper timing. Grammatically correct social intercourse or legally sanctioned sexual intercourse may become wrong, for instance, when spoken without heart or performed without spirit.
Since righteousness cannot be defined objectively, separate from persons in time and place, much awareness is required for living a good life. One who would be, and hence be righteous, must remain attuned to his own degree of integrity at the time, the immediate nature of circumstances and the probable consequences of each word or act. If another person is involved, his state of wholeness just then must also be considered. An act which might be right for one alone, and yet is untimely for the other, also becomes wrong for the first at the particular time.
Since there is no being apart from righteousness, one must beware of being improper.
TO BE IS
TO BE AMORAL
TO BE IMMORAL IS
NOT TO BE
Morality is a functional structure, useful in maintaining a society and in guiding expressions of being within that society. Morality is practical. It works both for clans and for persons within each clan.
And yet morality--whether externally existent in codes and commandments, or internally present as conscience or super-ego--is an abstraction, an addition to reality, not inherent in being itself. One who is being is amoral, neither moral nor immoral.
He may act in a moral fashion, expressive of his desire to participate in the society where he lives, yet his existence is undetermined by codes or conscience. Being free, he always has a choice in every situation. While commonly appearing as a moral person, this remains a stance, chosen for practical purposes.
Consequently, to be immoral, to seek being through the rejection of prevailing morality, is as much an escape from being as is the attempt to become oneself by being moral. Public morality or private conscience (which is but the ingestion of the former) is always temporal--determined by calendar and locale. Morality constantly shifts, like desert sands, from time to time and place to place. What is immoral in our generation may be moral in the next; what provokes a guilty conscience in one place may be socially acceptable in another.
Consequently, to seek being which is eternal through morality which is temporal is always an error. One who would be himself will remain amoral, or return to this natural innocence into which he was born, Pragmatically, he will function in a moral manner when the course of being is best served thereby, or in an immoral fashion for the same reason. Yet he will never become moral or immoral, lest he lose communion with being itself.
TO BE FAITHFUL IS
TO HAVE NO FAITH
TO HAVE BELIEFS IS
TO ESCAPE BELIEVING
The escape into absolute knowledge seems particularly tempting in religion. Those able to tolerate not-knowing-for-sure in the secular realm often succumb most completely in regard to the ultimate.
The death however, is just as real. When spiritual knowing (experience) is transformed into spiritual knowledge (a thing to be possessed), then the person has ceased to be. When believing (an event) becomes a belief (a possession), a religious person has traded humanity for false godhood. He has sacrificed himself on the altar of non-being. One cannot become a possessor of beliefs, or any other thing, without first making himself into an object, which is to say, without ceasing to be.
Thus a truly religious person exercises faith (he "faiths") but he does not have faith. He goes about his life experiencing trust ("faithing"), yet he possesses no objectified faith or beliefs to be defended, promulgated, or leaned on.
As with any other knowing, spiritual experience may properly be formed into beliefs (creeds, dogma, or doctrinal statements) for purposes of sense-making or communication. Always, however, these expressions are merely personal confessions ("this is what it has been like for me") shaped for practical purposes (thinking and talking). Whenever one-who-is-believing makes them into objects of faith which he possesses as spiritual crutches or religious weapons, he has already escaped who he is. In having a faith he becomes faithless and hence ceases to be.
To be faithful is to have no faith; to have beliefs is to escape believing. Accompany me when I am faithful with you; run for your life when I try to make you believe me.
TO BE IS
TO BE RELIGIOUS
TO HAVE RELIGION IS
TO BE IRRELIGIOUS
Religion is an organized effort, public or private, to encounter the ultimate in reality. A secular layman who seeks fullness of life is no less religious than an ordained priest who strives to know God. Their goal is the same, though they have different languages and choose different paths. Both practice religion.
Religion is the form of their striving. A layman's religion may be wealth, fame, or psychiatry, while a churchman chooses Catholicism, Protestantism, or Judaism. In either case they engage in a common effort. Their chosen way is their religion.
Any religion may be functional for one who sincerely seeks the ultimate through its forms. Some religions are more direct and practical than others, yet none is inherently virtuous or right for everyone. Each person must seek his own proper religion.
The crucial issue in any religion is the striving one does through its forms. Whether one seeks to walk the strait and narrow way with a stockbroker, analyst, or priest as his guide is less important than the diligence of his efforts. One way may be more direct than the others but none are sacred within themselves. The path of honesty and truth is the same through each, as is the ultimate goal.
What matters is being religious--that is, committed within the form of striving, rather than succumbing to escape through ownership. The way can be traveled by any lost pilgrim, but can never be owned without losing it. He who has a religion, be it secular or churchly, public or private, has already lost the way. He may pass his dead days as master or slave of his religion. He may defend it, promote it, or try to practice it. In either case he remains lost, having made a thing of himself and his religion.
To be is to be religious; yet to have religion, truly, one must become religion-less.
TO BE IS
TO HAVE NO GOD
TO HAVE A GOD IS
TO PRACTICE IDOLATRY
God is being itself. Being is a secular name for God. When I am being, I am knowing and revealing God. To be in being (which is the only place to really be) is to be in God.
Consequently, I experience God whenever I faithfully be; but I can never have a God without escaping being. Having a God requires that I first objectify myself so as to allow the possession. Then I must reduce being to an object in order to own it.
Furthermore, since God is ultimate reality, I must logically make myself an ultimate object in order to possess him. One must obviously be greater than that which he has, no matter how humble he appears. Having a lessor object such as a soul, is a lessor idolatry, but presuming to have God is the ultimate act of idolatry. Though I pretend to worship and serve my God, deceiving even myself, the charade cannot negate my escape from being into false godhood.
The opposite attempt of atheism--to deny God--is but the other side of the same coin. One holds that God is; the other that he is not. Each is a victim of his own holding.
To be, then, is to know God without presuming to have him. The most righteous are those least in possession or rejection of God. Just as the truly religious are religion-less, the only godly persons are godless.
TO BE IS
TO BE LOVING
NOT TO LOVE
Finally, being is most clearly named with the no-name "love." Being is loving; hence, to be is to be loving. Whoever is who he is, is loving.
The statement, "Being is loving," is literal. It can properly be reversed: "Loving is being." Just as being is loving, so loving is being. "Love" is a no-name (a name for what cannot be named) because it only exists in the immediate event of being itself. Love is neither something to do or have, nor to give or get.
One cannot in reality do an act of love or truthfully say, "I have this love for you." Nor can love be given away or obtained from another. It, as being itself, only exists for me when I am loving. My loving may be revealed in my words or deeds yet is never contained therein. I cannot give it to anyone. You may be loving with me. I will probably love you loving; but you cannot get love from me or give me your own. We can only be loving together.
When one says, for example, "I love my children," as though this is an objective fact, while at the same time he is unloving with them, he lies, making mockery of being itself. Flee him who says, "I love you," while withholding his love from you. He is Satan personified, seeking to escape his hell through gaining your love. His words will not save you, nor can you rescue him.
To be loving is to affirm the being of another through the being of oneself with the other. It is to freely and responsibly be perceptive/emotional/thoughtful/sensual/caring in the presence of the loved one. To completely be is to be continually loving in the eternal presence of being itself.
Otherwise the option is hell.
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