What is the difference between Being Time and Doing Time?

Being time versus doing time, do you know the difference? Doing time is busy time. It is time spent accomplishing things, getting things done and making things for the external world. Doing time is goal oriented and linear. It moves in a straight line and is never still. Being time is time spent with and on oneself. It is quiet time. It is time spent oblivious of attainment and goals. Being time does not recognize space and movement, it simply exists. During Being time, the world stands still and nothing happens. According to Robert Wolfe who wrote “Being Time”:

“Being time means being your whole self, the whole person whom you have always been and will always be. This person stretches from the moment of your conception to the moment of your death in one unbroken self that moves and acts in the present but exists in the past and future as well.” (http://www.kofersite.com/time.htm)

I once attended a Lifesprings Seminar which lasted for three days. The subject of the seminar was learning to be as well as do. One of the leaders made the statement that in contemporary society we think that by doing, doing, doing we will then be. She said that this was backwards. We must first be before we can do. Otherwise whatever we do will be twisted and warped. If we are not first a being of integrity and honesty, then how can anything we do not be warped? Many of us are on this false treadmill. We think that by doing and accomplishing great things, we can then just “be.” We don’t realize that unless we can first be that none of these accomplishments will help us to feel fulfilled. Accomplishments will all just pass away. They will be magnificent for the moment, but in a short time we will be back to living with our unfulfilled and unsatisfied self. Nothing can get you out of this trap. No amount of physical goods, designer clothes, expensive homes, cars, celebrity friends, degrees or money can overcome the doing trap. There is only one way to live and love yourself and that is by learning the secret of Being.

The famous existential philosopher Martin Heidegger wrote a book called: “Being and Time.” (1927). It is an exploration of the meaning of being as defined by temporal time, and is an analysis of time as a horizon for the understanding of being. If you have a bent for philosophy, this book can be very interesting. I have learned a great deal about Being time from many of the excellent books dealing with Zen Buddhism. The heart of Zen lies in understanding Being time. According to Dogen, a Zen Master (1200-1253):
“To be fully present in the immediate presencing here and now of being-time is to realize the presence-time of all life. As self and other are both times, practice and realization are times; entering the mud, entering the water, is equally time.” (Dogen, Being Time, 1240)

In Western society, we sometimes say, “there is no time like the present.” Well, there is really no time but the present. We exist moment to moment and yet our minds worry about the past and the future. If we can exist in the moment, if we can learn to just be rather than do, we can quiet all fears and anxieties about what we will be, about the world and about life and death. Learning to just” be” is perhaps the most difficult task for any of us to achieve. I cannot honestly say that I have accomplished this or that I often find myself just being.

Nevertheless, I see it as a very worthwhile effort and while some would say it is an oxymoron to make it a goal, I try to reflect at least once a week on it. My weekly reflection is as: “Help me to BE as well as DO and to trust in the future by living today the best I can.” When I can accomplish this once a week and at least keep the value present in my life, I can feel a great difference in how I perceive the world and what is most important. The world and all the things I do are not nearly as important as I often think they are. Being a good person is at least as important as doing good things. From Being good will come Doing good.

Do you spend all of your time doing or can you just be? Do you appreciate the need for Being time? Do you have enough Being time in your life? Why not? What would it take to have more Being time in your life?

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