Are you a human being?

What do I mean by Human Being? Well obviously, Human refers to our species and Being means a living creature. So far, so good. If you are reading this, you are probably a Homo Sapien and most probably a ‘critter’ and alive.

It is difficult to pin down the first use of the term Human Being, but it seems to have appeared for the first time in the 14th or 15th century to describe us. But this is not really what I’m getting at when I ask the question, “Are you a Human Being?” What I want to look at is the noun, Being.

Of course it is a noun and is categorised by the adjective, Human. However, what if we read the word, Being as a verb? Or to put it another way (you may remember this from your school days) “a doing word”. So that’s my point, are we really Human Beings or Human Doings?

The standard definition of Being is; the fact of existing; existence (as opposed to nonexistence), whereas Doing is; the act of performing or executing.

I suppose it’s about the difference between physics and philosophy. The former is only concerned with the material; if it can be measured, it exists and therefore is part of our physical universe. If it cannot be measured, it does not exist and is not the concern of the physical sciences. So where do we put thought, love and ambition? These are not measurable in any physical sense, are they? That is the domain of philosophy and the spiritual.

I remember reading a guide to meditation which explained that most of the time that people spend meditating does not actually achieve their goal. Meditation is when we go into a state of simply existing and definitely not doing. When meditating, if we hear a dog bark, we acknowledge the sound, but must not think about if it’s next-doors Labrador and whether he is excited, frightened or about to savage the postman. We must let the sound flow over us without interpretation or reaction. Meditation is the act of being and not doing, and we all find this almost impossible to do for any amount of time. Maybe you appreciate the irony of my using the verb ‘Do’ to describe the act of meditating; ‘Being’.

That is not the way living creatures are. We do not simply experience the world; we react and interact with it. We often try to attain some sort of peace, a state of spiritual being, but it is our nature to find practical ways to be alive. So we are driven to Do rather than simply Be. We are attempting to achieve a state that we usually reserve for celestial entities, and are constantly frustrated by our need to achieve Being by Doing.

Maybe we need to realise our true selves. Maybe we need to embrace who we really are. We all have a spiritual aspect to ourselves, but our universe-given mode on this planet is not to become spiritual beings in a physical universe, but to accept that our mode of living is mostly one of being practical, at which we are extraordinarily good.

Maybe we need to redefine ourselves as Human Doings rather than Human Beings.