Dying Daily #100: A Long Blog About Being

It feels cool to move into triple digits with this thing.

I am really grateful to everyone who is reading, commenting, texting, emailing or participating in any way. This has been a great experience, but only because of y’all. As always, please send me suggestions, criticisms, questions, or anything else you would like to send.

I am deeply thankful to you.

In discussing mindfulness, we talk a lot about thoughts and emotions and physical sensations.

I think we are all aware of the things that make up our experience of the present moment. We may get caught up in it sometimes, but we can at least see it in retrospect.

Think of the experience of being outside on a nice day.

You have the things coming in through your senses that let you know where you are. Maybe you see birds, trees, dead grass (if you are here in Lubbock), the sky, clouds, a breeze (or a vicious wind slinging dirt and particles of cow manure into your face if you are in Lubbock). You might smell flowers or car exhaust or Axe Body Spray or the cow manure (Lubbock again). You feel the warmth of the sun, the subtle shift in it if a cloud passes over it. The cooling sensation of the breeze or the stinging pain of the dirt in your eyes. You can hear cars, planes, birds, children screaming (hopefully with joy), dogs barking, flies buzzing your face. All of these things.

There are the thoughts associated with all of this. Let’s pretend we can stay in the moment and focus on those thoughts, rather than the ones about that day’s plans, the fight we had with our spouse that morning or how the Cowboys will do that evening. Our thoughts might wonder how long the good weather will last, or criticize the cow manure or cologne or, if you’re me, lament the fact that there are people-generated noises no matter where you are these days.

I am watching myself evolve into a grumpy old man.

We will also have emotions associated with all of this – joy or peace or frustration or anxiety, whatever arises from the judgments and assessments that our thoughts are making about it, or from what we are experiencing on a more subconscious level.

All of this creates our experience of the present moment, but none of it speaks about being.

None of it speaks about what Heidegger called the essential “weirdness of being”.

Think about it.

Everything we described above is our experience of the present through concepts.

Things like birds and grass and the sky are all there, all on their own, but we have these concepts about them. These are created through our past experiences and education, our ideologies and beliefs. If we were living thousands of years ago, the sky might be an embodiment of God or a dome that covered a flat planet. A bird might be one of our ancestors checking in on us or a harbinger of evil.

These are all conditioned.

Other things are even more conditioned by our constant immersion in an extensive and very complicated cultural environment, which itself is now further complicated by a virtual environment that we have not evolved to deal with. Things like Austin, Lubbock and cow manure each carry a particular meaning to us. If they do not mean anything to you, that in itself tells us something about your culture and environment and experience.

None of this deals with being though, with the primal, foundational awareness of existence, before all the conditioned, learned understandings and preconceptions we have.

Being itself is very, very weird, and learning to rest in it can bring us to a place of peace.

There is no discontentment without concepts, without preconditioned judgments and expectations. In awareness, everything is as it is, and nothing more.

I often encourage people to try and view the world like you are an alien that suddenly appeared on this planet, or a soul suddenly thrust into existence. What would the world look like if you had no understanding or education? What would you make of supermarket checkout lines and your show being preempted and dirty diapers and unbathed people with dreadlocks if you didn’t have ideas and opinions on these things? Especially if you didn’t even know what they were?

This is one thing I really like about babies. They are in this place. They live in the undifferentiated, unbroken being that is our true state.

I love watching Max learn new things and develop into a human being, but it also makes me sad to see his awareness fragmented. It’s necessary, but it is sad that it is necessary.

Being is the most basic thing there is, yet we rarely even notice it. In fact, because it is so fundamental, we take it for granted. We simply remain oblivious to it, too caught up in all the other things associated with being alive.

Take a moment today and just be.

Recognize being.

Watch how fast it disappears into the rush of doing.

What would life be like without all that doing?

Without all the associations and judgments and preconceptions?

What would it be like to just be?