Updated: Oct 13, 2022
You Can't Have It Both Ways
"Everyone wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die." - Unknown
We live in a world of constant change. Indeed change, innovation, the latest version, newness, novelty is heralded with great anticipation when announced and celebrated when it arrives.
Every self-help product on the planet promises some sort of transformation. Nobody wants things to stay the same... unless we do.
Sometimes the stars do align and everything is going swimmingly and we just don't want anything to change. Other times nothing is going according to plan and we can't wait to get on with it. In other words, give me change when I don't like right now and don't touch it when I do.
If only I could control things so well that they were always the way I wanted them to be... sigh...
All this conversation is concerned with BECOMING. Even the desire for a stable state, in which all is unicorns and rainbows, is part of the becoming disposition. But, if you haven't noticed, getting anything to sit still and not change has been an impossible feat. We do keep trying but, shouldn't the constant failure to keep things the same (which we have been at for literally thousands of years) be enough to at least suggest that it "ain't nevah gonna happen."
But what about BEING? the verb "to be":
He, she, it is
We, they, you are
Being has nothing to do with becoming. We often confuse the two so much that, when some desired state or condition does arise we say "I AM."
I am a lawyer
I am a therapist
I am an engineer
I am a singer
I am a spiritual teacher
The list of things for which I have said "I am this" is quite long and none are still true. So there is a hint we may want to pay attention to.
If it is at all a temporary state, should I actually say "I am?"
Ok let me cut to the chase. Being is not something that happens nor is it a temporary state. It is something that IS. 2+2 did not become 4. It just is.
If I became something then it isn't an I am.
So what difference does it make? Oh a great deal. Endowing the becoming and temporary states with the permanence of what is, and when we try to rely on something that is inevitably going to change for a sense of safety and stability we can't help but experience three things:
The tension of trying to make it stay the same
The fear of losing it
The disruption of when it does change
In other words... suffering.
As a result of this inevitability, THE NATURE OF BEING is the ONLY thing that self-inquiry and indeed all genuine spirituality focuses on.
Becoming is constant change and, no matter how hard we try to control it, it never goes the way we want it to for long... if at all. Being, on the other hand, is absolutely changeless. So it is in the changeless that spirituality lays its anchor.
So becoming I know; changing, striving, improving, fixing, exchanging this for that, upgrades and new versions. But where is this being thing.
Being is hidden in plain sight.
Hidden in plain sight?
Yes. let me give you an example. In New York City where I once lived, there are a lot of parks and squares, some big and some small. Most have some kind of statuary, famous people and abstract art. I noticed that after passing by one of these works of art a couple of times,
I completely phased it out. I didn't see it anymore. It was there but it did not register. Routes I would walk often, I realized that i didn't see most of what was along my path.
Hmmmmm, why is that?
When something doesn't change we don't notice it. We filter it out. Our minds are natural detectors of change. It doesn't regard anything as important (i.e. a threat or an opportunity) unless it moves. I won't go into the whole mechanism as to how that works, but suffice it to say that it is completely natural and not some kind of flaw on your part. It's just the way the mind and attention work.
And here is the kicker
BEING DOESN'T CHANGE... YOUR BEING DOESN'T CHANGE
Which is why we don't see it
So you just don't give it any attention, until:
Someone comes along and says, something like, "Your being is the most important thing. Without it, what else do you have?" and
The import of that question really sinks in
I am going to assume that you have read this far because those two things have entered into your inner space and resonated a bit.
So how do we slow down and take a look to see that unmoving thing that we have been overlooking? How do we see that which is amidst all of the things that are in constant becoming?
And, if it really is that important, how do we keep attention on it when our minds and attention have no interest in it?
This is what we talked about in this weeks episode of OM School Live!
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