How long does it take from the moment your desire pop up, to the moment you take action, to the moment that your action resulted in the desired or successful outcome?
Have you measured the psychological distance between each of these steps? I don’t mean the physical distance or physical time, because that depends on the scale of your endeavor, goal, dream, desire, etc. I am however referring to the underlying neurological pathways and activities that you undergo from start to finish.
I am exploring this psychological and neurological journey in order to observe and understand my doing pattern. First, let me try to define doing in this context.
We have heard the difference between doing and being. However, I find that after so many years of healing, I still have a lot of doing, and not able to stay in being all the time.
Very simplistically, being means going with the flow, like a salmon swimming with the current. With this analogy, you can easily understand that doing means going against the flow, like the salmon swimming against the current.
To be a bit more nuanced, doing involves a certain energetic deliberation, a certain push, a certain force, because without all that, you simply cannot manage to go against the current. Right? But because we are so used to going against the current, we don’t even realize that we are.
For instance, when I write articles on this platform, I would think, ‘Should I end this article like this?’ ‘How should I organize my thoughts?’ ‘Should I use this word or that word?’ In each of these questions, there is one word that persistently pop up—should. If you are going with the flow, you don’t ask yourself if you should do something or not. You simply let yourself drift to wherever, however, whenever. But when you start to control, you start to wonder if you should drift left or right, up or down, front or back, etc. That’s already a break in the flow.
So in every one of my posted articles, never mind the unposted ones, how many times did I ask myself if I should or ought to do something? Hundreds! Every single one of these thoughts is a departure from being to doing.
My above example is a demonstration of doing at the mental level. But you can also have doing at the spiritual and physical levels too. I am not sure about the emotional level though.
Now, after we have identified and observed the doing, and the choice to choose doing instead of being, the next question to explore is, what is driving me to do instead of be? What propels the doing? What compels us to go against the flow?
I think there are different categories of reasons:
- Need. Like you’re hungry, you need to eat, then you need to go out to buy food, but before that you may need to do a couple other things first. So one need may fire up a series of actions.
- Lack. Lack is not exactly the same as need. Lack for me is more of a psychological perception. You can have a million dollars in the bank but you still want to make more money. That’s not need. That’s a sense of lack. You may call it greed or sense of accomplishment or success or fulfillment, which is all possible, but my point here is that lack is the feeling of not enough, or not good enough, of feeling deficient or defective, so that feeling compels you to keep on chasing and doing and acquiring and achieving, as a corrective measure to return you to the perception of enough, good, perfect.
- Standard. Your understanding of right and wrong, good or bad. Going with the flow has nothing to do with good or bad, right or wrong. Flow is like a universal trend or energetic current. We are connected with that flow all the time; but there are different flows interlacing and overlaying each other. You may be tapped into one and the person next to you may be tapped into another. Standard is like a sign on the road, and flow is like the wind; you drift with the wind, and may hit the road sign or completely miss it, which is okay because you are not on the ground.
- Nourishment. Some people need to perform in order to get a sense of accomplishment, satisfaction, fulfillment. They need to do something in order to feel productive, useful, worthy. Otherwise, they may feel a sense of guilt, waste of time, or disappointment with themselves, etc.
In terms of writing, my driving forces are primarily the third and fourth points. If I were to just let my consciousness flow freely onto the post, it would have a very different quality. Can I accept that quality? Umm … I would be cautious about that.
That cautiousness or hesitation is my struggle between doing and being. That psychological tug-of-war is something we are here to experience in our lives. Because by oscillating between the two extremes—doing and resting—we get to glimpse the essence of our being. Envision a pendulum swinging. The middle is being. The two sides are doing and resting, sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system, night and day.
The more we do, the more rest and recuperation we need to recharge ourselves, after which we swing back into doing again. So the pendulum keeps swinging. When do we get to glimpse the true flavor of the middle? Only in that passing moment between doing and resting. Only in that small window of time and space. Yet, that is the nature of our full presence.
I started this article with the question of the lapse between a desire and a desired outcome. As soon as we have a desire, we start to arrange ourselves psychologically (and physically) to bring about that desire. And in that process, we start doing. If it feels like a long time, it usually means we have to expend more effort in doing, which means there is more noise and resistance in the process.
The less we oscillate between doing and resting, the more we spend on being, and thus the more we ground our essence to the present to be present.