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The Doing vs Being Dichotomy

by Kathirasan K

One of the popular mindfulness discourses is the need for the anchor in Being as opposed to Doing. In the attempt to eulogise the state of Being, we inevitably deride the state of Doing. However, this attitude can be unhealthy. Why?

The state of doing is in the space of change. We cannot create change in the external world of personal and professional spheres by simply not doing anything. Every thing we do from brushing our teeth in the morning to developing a strategy for a new business is all in the space of Doing. But what is needed is not the state of Being to replace this state of Doing. Rather, with mindfulness, we allow the state of Doing to arise from the state of Being. Like a ferris wheel that is grounded and supported by two poles while having its wheel in motion, we can also have our Doing grounded in our Being.

There are two types of doing. 1. Doing from autopilot and 2. Doing arising from Being. The first is our usual state where we operate from our autopilot and perhaps the amygdala as well. The second type is a Doing that arises as a response from the Being of mindfulness practices. It is not that we abhor the state of Doing but rather allowing it to be informed by being.

We need to be aware about not creating a dichotomy between Doing and Being. We can recognise that Doing is indispensable as it is a natural phenomenon for human beings. But cultivating the way of Being while Doing can transform our productivity, effectiveness and success, professionally and personally.

Doing without Being may lead to stress, meaninglessness and repetition. Being without Doing may lead to idealism and narcissism. Doing with Being leads you to wisdom.

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