The False Dichotomy Between Being And Doing

Rob Burbea

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One believes that "being" and "doing" are different. Often, "just being" is regarded as preferable or somehow more authentic. With maturing of insight, however, one realizes that this perceived dichotomy between 'being' and 'doing', though it might at first seem and feel self-evident, is in fact essentially mistaken and based on a false impression.

It rests on three basic and connection assumptions: (a) that there is an objective reality that we can and should 'be with'; (b) that anything other than the 'simply knowing' awareness is somehow a labored and artificially constructed state; (c) 'being' involves no effort and Self will not be constructed there.

It turns out, though, that whenever there is *any experience at all*, there is always some fabricating, which is a kind of 'doing'. Often, we revert to 'just being with things as they appear' and this reversion becomes a default into the assumption of 'being with things as they are' without realizing it. Without enough experience in seeing how we fabricate our perceptions, it can be difficult to overcome the tacit assumption that things really are how they appear or that they really are the way they are, in and of themselves. It can be difficult even to realize that such assumptions are there. What seems like 'just being with things as they appear' will undoubtedly involve all kinds of views and assumptions, mostly unrecognized, about what is perceived.

Actively cultivating a range of skilful ways of looking is premised on the understanding that we are *always and inevitably* engaged in some way of looking at or relating to our experiences. But we are not usually aware of this fact. Nor are we usually aware of *how* we are looking -- what exactly the view is -- at any time. We are either engaging a way of looking at experience, self, and the world, that is creating, perpetuating, or compounding suffering to some degree, or we are looking in a way that frees. These habitual and normal tendencies to view things in ways that fabricate, compound, and tighten suffering are deep-seated and difficult to reverse. Nevertheless, that is the great and beautiful work of the path.

Excerpt from the book 'Seeing That Frees'.

Seed questions for reflection: How do you relate to the notion that "whenever there is any experience at all, there is always some fabricating, which is a kind of 'doing'"? Can you share a personal story of a time you became aware that the dichotomy between doing and being was a false one? What helps you cultivate looking in a way that frees?

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6 Previous Reflections:

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    On Mar 3, 2021 Denee wrote:
    I spent some time writing my reflections, which was a useful "struggle" and then clicked on "submit comment" and received a notice of "fatal error". I find that quite ironic and amusing!

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    On Mar 2, 2021 Ronald wrote:
    You may remember the expression "you will believe it when you see it."Perhaps the expression "you will see it when you believe it" is more accurate since seeing something is dependent upon having a learned mental construct upon which to base one's perceptions.

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    On Mar 2, 2021 Patrick wrote:
    There is muchcould say here, but words often confuse. As we engage in a "pod" concerning water, we are learning that surrender to "flow" is often the best or only way through, the only way of truly "seeing".

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    On Feb 28, 2021 David Doane wrote:
    I am in body, I've been very conditioned and indoctrinated by family, community, and world, and every sensory experience I have is filtered through my body and my conditioning, so I do a great deal of fabricating of my every experience. To fabricate means to do or make. Such fabricating or doing is to a great extent unconscious and unintentional, but it happens. In that sense, being and doing are one and not separate. At some point I became awarethat my thinking, my judgments, expectations, assumptions, prejudices, fabrications are a big part of my experiences. They are the screen through which I experience. Awareness of that helps me cultivate looking in a way that frees. What frees is seeing, to whatever small degree I do, what is rather than seeing my thinking and fabrications.

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    On Feb 26, 2021 Jagdish P Dave wrote:
    There is a basic difference between searching and finding. In searching we have a goal to achieve. So there is a seer and the seen, subject and object. There is duality between the subject and the object. This is a kind of doing or in the words of author Rob Burbea is "fabricating". This is our normal way of thinking and searching. What we are searching is colored by our desires and expectations and it causes elation and depletion. We are bound by this cycle which is called "samsara." Finding is discovering, something that is always "is". This is our "being" or Self The seen the world,always changes. The "seer", Self, is unchanging. Normally, I am a citizen of two worlds. One world is made up of changes.This world has ups and downs. This is a world of doing and having. When I am not caught up in this self-created dichotomous world, when I am "awake" and aware of this dichotomy I am a citizen of a different world. It is a world... [View Full Comment] There is a basic difference between searching and finding. In searching we have a goal to achieve. So there is a seer and the seen, subject and object. There is duality between the subject and the object. This is a kind of doing or in the words of author Rob Burbea is "fabricating". This is our normal way of thinking and searching. What we are searching is colored by our desires and expectations and it causes elation and depletion. We are bound by this cycle which is called "samsara." Finding is discovering, something that is always "is". This is our "being" or Self The seen the world,always changes. The "seer", Self, is unchanging.
    Normally, I am a citizen of two worlds. One world is made up of changes.This world has ups and downs. This is a world of doing and having. When I am not caught up in this self-created dichotomous world, when I am "awake" and aware of this dichotomy I am a citizen of a different world. It is a world of "being". I realize the oneness of all beings. It is a unitive consciousness. We may call it a world of TRUELOVE. This is the miracle of living.
    Reaching out and helping someone who needs help, caring for others whole heartedly expecting nothing in return, not harming others, daily practice of mindfulness meditation and practicing mindfulness in everyday living helps me to be connected with "Being".This is the way of freeing myself from myself. The light ofawakening and awarenesshelps me walk in the journey of my life.
    Namaste!
    JagdishP Dave'





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