Most of us are good at doing, but not so good at being.
Doing is fantastic. It’s how we create beautiful things in this world. It’s also the way most people know how to exist in this world.
Being is harder, because it requires that we do nothing.
The people I admire the most are not the ones who have achieved a lot in life, but those who are contented being nobodies. When you are contented to be a nobody, it tells me a lot about you. It tells me that you are secure and your identity is not hinged upon external validation. You are happy just being you!
We are used to celebrating successful people. But look deeper and you will see that sometimes successful people work so hard to succeed because of their inner wounds and fears. Their success is only a plug to stop their pain from oozing out.
All our life we have been taught to do, to work our ass off. But what if we learned to simply be?
Our careers, our daily pressures, and all the expectations to be somebody rather than nobody are worldly things dreamed up by worldly minds like ours. It’s not to say they are bad things, but maybe they are imaginary and not as real as we think they are.
I believe there’s more to life than life. Think of the ocean – sail upon its surface and you might think it exists only in one dimension, but dive into it and you can travel for miles and miles into the deep mysterious blue.
Life seems to have that kind of unfathomable depth. The only problem is that our minds are so used to being on the surface.
But learning to be is like diving into the ocean. You break into the depth and you find things you have never seen before on the surface.
When Buddhists talk about awareness or Christians talk about being with God or mystics talk about being at one with the universe, I think they are talking about this sense of simply being.
To be is nothing physical. It’s purely inner work.
To be is to accept yourself. To be is to stop wanting to be a better version of yourself. To be is to, in Zhuangzi’s words, “follow along with things the way they are” without resistance.
Some people might say that to be is a simple concept, but it is not easy to achieve at all.
Precisely. There is nothing to achieve. To be is to rest. It is the total lack of struggle. It is the putting down of your arms and your desire to achieve anything more with and in your life.
I was always an ambitious person. To me it has always been important that I become somebody rather than nobody. Sometimes I trace it back to my inferiority complex as a child or simply my Dad’s genes.
Now I can see that I was always only chasing after happiness and acceptance. I thought I’d be truly happy when I fulfilled all my dreams and found the freedom I so desired, but now I see that if you are not already happy, no amount of money or fame or any other worldly thing you can think of can ever give you that.
So my only urgent task, my biggest practice, is not how to be a more successful photographer or earn more money or do more exciting projects. It is not even about learning how to be a happier person.
My practice is simply to be. It’s not just a high-brow philosophical concept, but an idea that must infuse my every decision, action and thought. It must be lived.
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28
“Flow with whatever is happening and let your mind be free. Stay centered by accepting whatever you are doing. This is the ultimate.” – Zhuangzi
“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” – Laozi