Being as a way of doing : an inquiry into the spirituality of being




Crawford, Paul Duncan

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This dissertation is a multidisciplinary exploration of the relationship between ‘being’ and ‘doing’. Because life in contemporary Western societies is overwhelmingly characterized by individualism and the use of instrumentalistic rationality, there is a naturalized tendency in the West to conceive ‘being’ as the product of personal actions and ‘doing’ as an instrument of becoming a particular self. The ideas put forward here suggest that this orientation towards defining ‘being’ in terms of observable action is, in reality, a dis-orientation and the source of personal, societal, and planetary fragmentation and suffering. Central to the view proposed here is the belief that ‘being’ is the source and not the product of actions, and that this source, although ultimately ineffable, is best understood not as a discernible self but as a display of consciousness that participates in an integral way with all of reality, which implies that all life-affirming forms of ‘doing’ are embodiments of wholeness and participatory consciousness. I elaborate this idea in two major discussions. In Part One, I explore the suggestion that what is fundamental to ‘being’ is not a certain place within a hierarchy of increasingly conscious levels of being but a participation in the fullness of life expressed in and through a wholeness of interdependent beings. In Part Two, I explore how this wholeness view of reality implies an orientation towards ‘doing’ that is rooted in a present-centered time-consciousness and how the current hegemony of past and future orientations towards time inhibit the kind of reflective awareness that facilitates ‘being’ as a way of doing. The Taoist concept wu wei, which refers to not interfering with the way of ultimate reality, reflects the kind of relationship between advocating, namely, one that expresses a present-centered experience of self-surrendering to an ideal of ultimate significance in which a person's sense of uniqueness is fused with a sense of unity with all beings. By embodying this quality of being ‘all in all’, actions that flow from such an experience affirm the spiritual nature of reality.



Self-actualization (Psychology), Maturation (Psychology), Interpersonal relations, Spirituality, Values