The Spirituality of Being Versus Doing


Insight into Living Consciously 

When we glimpse how vastly different consciousness is as a way of living from the unconsciousness in which we have floundered, we want to fix up our life by embarking on a “spiritual journey.”

We start reading all kinds of books, listening to talks, going to retreats, praying, meditating, and affirming.

We begin working various programs, practicing laws of attraction, meeting in groups to study courses on spirituality.

All of this is meant to change our situation.

What we don’t usually realize is that we are seeking to make things different by using the same fundamental approach that got us where we are: doing.

A conscious life isn’t about doing, but about being.

But being isn’t an inactive life. On the contrary, it’s a highly alive state. It’s just that everything we accomplish flows from our inner being, instead of coming from the mind.

Rather than a strategy we think out, using our best skills to set goals and intentions, the Presence at the heart of our being teaches us in each moment what’s required. If planning is necessary, such as for taking a trip, this too flows from being.

When we are driven, either by thought or emotion, we are operating in a manner that’s the opposite from flowing in the zone—the opposite of being in the now

It seems that much that goes under the banner of “spirituality” is geared to trying to get somewhere, make something happen, to turn an intention into an actuality, make laws of attraction work for us.

All of this is manipulation—control—instead of opening ourselves up to simply allow.

If we look closely, we’ll see that our “efforting” is actually a form of resistance to what is.

In terms of the imagery of the Garden of Eden story, we are coming from the tree of the knowledge of right versus wrong—the knowledge of good and evil—instead of from the spontaneous natural flow of the tree of life.

We are bent on figuring out the right path, practicing the right practices, affirming the right words. God forbid we ever speak a negative word!

All of this positive thinking is part of the tree of the knowledge of good and bad. All of these “good” intentions generate a lot of tension, which results in things going wrong.

A life of doing involves trying to make the right choice rather than the wrong choice. It requires a lot of work on our part—working the system.

In contrast Jesus described a life of being: “My way is easy, my load light.”

If a path starts to feel like hard work, it’s because it is “work”—doing instead of being.

If a path starts to sound mental, involving saying all the right things, thinking the right thoughts, it is mental—it’s insane.

If a path is charged with emotion—if we feel driven to make something happen by setting intentions, working a law of attraction—we are into doing, not being.

There is a law of attraction in the universe and it works very simply. To just be, in the flow of this moment now, coming from our essence in everything, is immensely attractive.

Everything we need comes to us without our trying to draw it, without our “efforting.”

There’s no angst, no stress, no tension because we are accepting in our essence rather than intending with our thoughts.

In the story of The Little Prince, our desire to make things happen in our spiritual reality is met with a rebuff.

The pilot who has crash-landed in the desert and met The Little Prince has been asked to draw a sheep. First he draws a boa constrictor—the only kind of thing he knows how to draw.

I read a story in the news this week of a two-year-old little girl who was squeezed to death by a family pet boa. You get the picture of what boa constrictors represent in this story.

When the pilot finally draws a sheep, it’s sick. Most who embark on a spiritual path are far from whole—and they stay this way for years because all of the “work” they do on themselves is precisely that: work.

It’s all part of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, not the flow of the tree of life.

When The Little Prince rejects the sick sheep, the pilot draws what he thinks is a sheep. The Prince points out that it has horns: it’s a ram.

What an incredibly accurate image of what happens to us when we embark on a spiritual journey. First we discover how sick we are, and then we set about pushing and shoving ourselves to “fix” ourselves.

But the way a ram goes about things is so very different from the approach of a sheep. One represents doing, the other the peacefulness that flows from being.

The Little Prince wants a sheep.

David Robert Ord is author of Your Forgotten Self Mirrored in Jesus the Christ and the audio book Lessons in Loving–A Journey into the Heart, both from Namaste Publishing, publishers of Eckhart Tolle and other transformational authors. He writes The Compassionate Eye daily, together with his daily author blog The Sunday Blog, at

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