Thursday, November 13, 2008

What Do We Do Now?

It was Will Rogers that said: If you want to be successful, know what you are doing, love what you are doing, and believe in what you are doing.

But what does it mean “to do.” Why do we so often feel compelled to do something? Merriam Webster tells us that do means to cause, to make, to bring to pass, to perform, to execute and to conduct oneself. But how do we know what to do? When is it better to do nothing?

The concept of self-efficacy is the focal point of Albert Bandura's social cognitive theory. Self-efficacy plays the central role in the cognitive regulation of motivation, because people regulate the level and the distribution of effort they will expend in accordance with the effects they are expecting.

So there is a necessary confidence in doing because doing is expressed in the perception of the principal aim of life as accomplishing things mainly for the good of both the individual and society. When is it right to do nothing, to just let it be? Being is mainly directed at the individual’s cultivation and development of his personality (Erich Fromm). Perhaps the answer is not to choose, but to recognize being in the midst of doing. This requires the understanding that Doing and Being are a profound pair of complementary qualities in human existence.

The Christian mystic Neville Goddard believed that the only thing to do is imagine: “If you imagine a state, remain faithful to it, and it externalizes itself, you have found the creator of the world for by him all things are made and without imagination is not anything made that is made. When you discover how to make something, you have found him of whom Moses and the prophets wrote, your own wonderful human imagination, the Everlasting Sustainer of all life. (Neville Goddard No Other God 5.10.1968) This discovery of imagination, Neville called God’s “Promise. There is nothing any person can do to earn it. It is sheer Grace and comes in its own good time.”

What do YOU think?


Alice said...

No offense intended, just wondering why people expound on things like to do, if I was standing still and didn't appear to be functional, and someone asked what I was doing if anything, I could always say breathing, that's what I'm doing. I like your piece about the imagination, I told my soon to be boyfriend that I have more fun with him in my imagination because he was being negative at the time.

Patricia Lanchester said...

I think that the state of 'doing', where it means affecting something or others, is a natural survival action. 'Doing Nothing' is introversion and does not affect this existence (although it could be a manner of spiritual/meditative doing).So I believe it's right to do nothing only when the nothing is spiritually gratifying.

Thank you for introducing me to Neville Goddard.

Jeff said...

Hi Molly. I wrote a long reply and then blogcatalog hiccupped... poof! Ahh, but to rewrite the gist is still refreshing.

I love your discussions. Today you have really struck a chord with me. I was scribbling a post (Yes, I still do it the long-hand way at times) while having lunch. I have been thinking about how we create problems and how we seek to overcome them. I thought about how faith is good but needs action to succeed. Being leads me to the Guide that resides in each of us and that produces faith. Doing is the natural expression of that faith and produces action... leading to an outer manifestation that is more to our benefit, and hopefully the betterment of all. Maybe it won't seem as related once I actually draft it in blogger, but it has helped to raise my consciousness, and afterall that is the point; right?

I like Mr. Goddard's take on imagination. I try to leave it to God and so I struggle with timing... got to remember the grace element.

Joe said...

You ask really good questions!

The challenge that you present appears to be one of knowing the difference between knowing or believing that you can do something, and whether or not that action is the right action. The usage of "being" appears to correspond to Maslow's self-actualization state, insofar as the individual has moved out of various states of "having" and "survival" as the primary mode of existence. It makes sense that decision-making based on this mode of existence, where one is not in a craving mode as a primary mindset stands the best chance of yielding positive outcomes.

From the Buddhist viewpoint, the knowing when to, or not to do, is addressed in the concept of discrimination, or discernment based on the Four Noble Truths. Similarly, in the Bhagavad Gita, this knowing the wisdom of action vs. inaction is a primary concern of Arjuna's who is counselled by Krishna in the right understanding of the eternal nature of things. In most Eastern conceptions of the issue, the problem is one of motivation, rooted in either desire or enlighenment. An enlightened being understands the chains of causation (nidanas), and understands the merits of a certain course of action (karma).

Katinka said...

I struggle with this as well.

I think for successful people a lot of things come together :they have a talent and are passionate about it, and have the kind of personality that sells itself easily (if you get my drift). That means for them all or enough aspects of their personality work together well. Doing just happens naturally, even though it may mean a lot of hard work.

For most of us though, passion and talent don't automatically add up. This also means that it is much harder to align imagination, passion, talent and work. That makes that self-efficacy thing harder as well.

Stephanie said...

To be or not to be; to do or not to do; to choose the Light or darkness becomes as important as one perceives it to be. Choosing wisely comes with complete knowledge of the facts.

To do nothing, or just simply being complacent eventually ends in mediocrity - or worse.

When one chooses God's Light in their life, all worthwhile things become possible and when so, "to do" becomes a priority of value in truth.

Elizabeth said...

'Being' doesn't mean complacent. Learning to be yourself in God's light, isn't that the truth?

Chan said...

There is nothing special about my daily affairs,
I am simply in spontaneous harmony with them.
Clinging to nothing and also rejecting nothing,
I encounter no resistance and am always free.
What do I care for the pomp of purple robes?
The pure summit was never sullied by so much as a fleck of dust.
The wondrous action of magical forces
I find in cutting wood and carrying water.

Layman Pang (8th century)
To know, and not to do, is not to know.
(Middle Kingdom Proverb)

Amy said...

I think activity ('doing') is important in one's spiritual quest (to achieve 'being'). Meditation is an active process - with your active attention, you quiet the mind. It takes active attention to be in the present moment. In Gnosis, you need to be vigilant in observing yourself in order see what's within to be able to increase your consciousness. It takes activity/doing to progress to being.

Patricia Lanchester said...

I returned today to read other posts to this article. It's interesting to see (or imagine) everyone's perspective. I can't say that anyone has a wrong thought on this, just individual ways of achieving a higher purpose. I tend to believe that there is no such thing as doing nothing.

Joy said...

I Personally don't think that Doing can be described on a level that is somehow conceptually equal to Being. Doing is things happening inside Being. Doing is a measurement of action, its conceptual existence is relative to the amount of importance needs to be brought forth into understanding. We actually never stop doing anything, even if you think you are not you're still breathing, you're still an active part of the universe and you can still influence or be influenced by other parts. There is do and "do", the latter is brought to the fore by its level of importance that it produces, it is merely an observation.

Victor said...

What is "successful"?

Successful in living up to God's standards or successful in living up to the standards of an individual or society.

Ones answer to that can probably decide what one can do or has to do.

Love thy neighbour as thyself, Jesus said in reply to a query similar to this thread. I believe that that alone would do and 'being' (in the best possible way) would follow.

Michael said...

To love oneself is to love all, for oneself is all, that is how the metaphore of a holistic universe has validity. When you love your neighbour as yourself you recognise the deep reality of your nature.

Joy said...

I like that, it's simple and says what needs to be said. Be yourself and love yourself, within that you will find the power to love the other.

Neil said...

Hume was perhaps the best writer on imagination. I'd be inclined to say we have been sustained by fantasies rather than imagination. Comments have been made about the Owl of Minerva flying only in grey light.

Ulysses said...

To do or not to do that is the question. To be compelled to always do something may be the result of the society in which one lives. In NY it seemed as though doing something was the standard while in the southern belt taking it easy and afternoon siesta is the norm, also prevalent in Italy and Spain. I make it a point to take at least 3 days per week to do whatever I want or nothing at all because it feeds the soul. To do nothing is as important as doing something. We can't make things happen in life so the best thing to do is let life happen. It is said, "Expect the Unexpected" and how true it is. The best laid plans of mice and men. If my artistic nature beckons me I just submit to the calling and the result is usually a tangible form of my imagination. I never take life too seriously for I know that it is all just a simple illusion of which I only share a small portion of through the duration of my life. Ecclesiastes tells us that whatever we do or accomplish ultimately becomes part of someones life after we have passed on. On this I agree as I have created so many landscape dreamscapes at the many homes I no longer occupy and now I can only see that someone will be enjoying the fruits of my labor at my current residence once I have moved on. So I try to be the recipient of all that I do as much as is possible, recipient being me and my immediate loved ones. I don't buy into all the illusions of life, not in the material sense. Life is not here on planet earth. I will continue to do whatever I want to do as long as I can do what I want to do with the freedom to do so.

Molly Brogan said...

It sounds like you have found a harmony with being and doing, Slip. There is freedom there. I can't say that I always feel total harmony, there always seems to be a greater harmony to move into for me, and when I do, always more after that. But I think that we are born here to participate. My natural inclination is to draw myself in and explore the more subtle levels of life. Writing accommodates this tendency. But life has a way of calling me back into group and community. For me the trick is to allow what comes up to lead, and to add myself to the mixture as best I can. I have been blessed over the years, to participate in national movements although usually my "doing" is smaller, state, county, city, village. For the first time in many years my daily activity is reaching only family. I am just beginning to catch the first wave of global participation through my writing. I write and connect with my readers through more writing. But this is only what can be seen from the outside.

And, because I believe that life is an inside out process, the evidence of my global participation (book sales) seems to me to reflect the more important internal processes of connecting to the soul of humanity and beyond. This requires active being. For me, doing begins when I ride the wave...

Francis said...

At best, being and doing are one. I must admit immediately that I don't manage this nearly often enough. I think that if we are really rooted in ourselves, in our own centre, our "doing" flows from this, is the active expression of our being. So maybe, "do be do be do" isn't so far off the mark after all. :-)

In everyday life, I often find myself faced - at times almost overwhelmed - with demands for action, or, more correctly, probably, reaction. It is not always easy in the normal craziness and hectic of living in our manic world to remind oneself that the demands on one are the consequences of the choices one has made oneself, consequences which were often unseen or unplanned, but nevertheless parts of processes for which we ourselves are responsible. In such situations I find it helpful to "zen" it, to centre myself in myself and do what is to be done. The doing flowing from my own being - its active expression. I frequently don't succeed in this, of course, but I find the exercise very positive - and a great way for dealing with situations I would otherwise experience as purely stressful. It also helps me to make concrete judgements about what really needs to be done - if anything. Much of what drives our world is blind actionism - it doesn't usually help and is often harmful. That's what I like about the term from the Buddhist tradition: RIGHT action!

Edward said...

Molly, personal experience has taught me that your core question is best answered by saying that doing nothing is pretty much the best solution most of the time. I have been prevented from doing what I wanted to do many many times in my life and I have to say that overall, doing nothing turned out to be the best response in most cases.

When people, including me, do take action it is most often based in
emotion of some sort which is probably the worst basis for any action.

Molly Brogan said...

"Much of what drives our world is blind actionism - it doesn't usually help and is often harmful."

I think this is true, action based on personal agenda or ego is much of what can be seen. It is refreshing to find folks who can act and respond from a place beyond their own need or:

"action it is most often based in emotion" which is different (I think) than action based on a feeling like love or compassion. If we base our actions on emotion, or the patterns of feeling stored in our ego based on past experience, I agree gruff, it most often leads to confusion of some sort.

So what is the optimal basis for action? Efficacy, it would seem, has much to do with knowing this. If you have confidence enough in your self and responses, you are more likely to make an effort to act in any given situation.

I am looking for clarity here, not sure of the answers myself. I tend to agree with Neville, that finding my place of awakened imagination and envisioning, feeling and desiring circumstances that fit my highest potential and the greater good will create this experience in my life. Will it change the world? Don't know, it may play a small role in the evolution of the world - the whole enlightened few of one generation giving way to the enlightenment of the next generation thing.... but under these circumstances I might not notice the world changing in my lifetime. Will it change my life - certainly, as this process, if it becomes my modus operandi, changes my responses, actions, relations, opportunities, possibilities and everything about me.

Charles said...

I think we are bound to keep pushing that rock uphill like Sysuphus.

Ulysses said...

Sometimes I find that actions are resultant of fear, the lack of confidence in all things falling into place without action. This culminates in the force feeding approach to life, trying to make something happen by direct action. Aside from the forces of nature, business enterprise can change course reeking havoc on the best laid plans. This is happening now as dreams crumble to dust from unexpected economic woes. The world changes as fast as the weather so I don't strive for permanency in it but recognize that my life is a mere split second in the scope of infinity. I look at each moment of enjoyment in life as an accomplishment and have always shunned the rat race approach. This of course had presented times of struggle, but those were times of learning to appreciate freedom. This is the core of a greater life and on which we can grow out from. To not care or worry actually freedom. For some, the results of years of action is actual loss of life from the inability to cope with the negative effects from the action. I often wonder where I will be in ten years, if in fact I will even be at all. I know I have no control or say concerning the future so I'll just let the pieces fall into place. Ultimately good health can be great wealth so it's something to hope for.

Molly Brogan said...

It is not always easy to understand the deconstruction around us. Our ego or self will is telling us - hey, this isn't the way that I would "do" it, and so fear and struggle begin. If we believe that thought creates reality and as Neville describes, imagination is the key to this, then the laws of cause and effect transform to accommodate a higher cause. Keeping the faith until our desires are manifest can be a real challenge. But the promise is, that if we can, grace will come in its own good time. It seems to me that being and doing are acting in integration, when our internal and external worlds are also in this kind of harmony.

What would it take to get there? I think the way that we see things can usher us into this ontology. Our need to see the world as malfunctioning and voice our outrage limits our entry here. This need to condemn our experience comes from a lifelong habit of defining ourselves by what we are not. "I am not that, I condemn that, I am outraged by that" is all objectification of the subjective reality. And it works! It gives us more of what we condemn so that we can continue to validate our identity. But there are better ways. Ones that bring more joy and peace.

I think that if we can look beyond appearances, stop attaching ourselves to what we see by our condemnation (or even our passion) of it, and see instead what greater truth is being presented, what possibility is arising, this "being" completely immersed in the moment will naturally tell us what, if anything, can be done. As Francis would say, "to centre myself in myself and do what is
to be done." This makes our experience subjective, but not at all in a narcissistic way. We are not taking the object onto ourselves by attachment, but allowing our subjective experience to substantiate our consciousness. The subjectification of the objective reality. We allow the mirror to be just that, our reflection, and not our identity.

Carrie said...

Thanks for your inquiry it struck a chord with me. The sentences I most resonated with I strung together above.

I think am currently in Being mode on the brink of Doing. I feel the pressure to act (though I haven't figured out the best form of action: volunteer to feed people? Focus on my painting?) but I am starting to realize that I am incubating--waiting for the fruition, the moment of action. Soon I'll be ready and I'll pray for an assignment. Winter is upon us and so the image of the dormant seed comes to mind.

Someday I hope that Being and Doing will be more fluid for me. I will "recognize being in the midst of doing." Perhaps it will be a quicker dialectical process where Being begets Doing and Doing begets Being. I think I have observed that in others.

I guess it depends on the needs of Being. If there is more work to do in terms of "cultivation and development" than you may have a season of more Being than Doing. A apparent dormant period.

Thanks for the opportunity to ponder your inquiry.

Thomas said...

..In response to your comments on being I stand by the comment "No one can be to you, otherwise than you are, as your being attracts your life".

One thing comes to mind is Being and Doing need to be put into a context. More specifically, I believe to be happy in life on has to pursue three lines of personal work 1. To help others 2. To perfect ourselves as far as possible 3. To seek an serve the purpose of our individual existence. This needs to be done in the context of What is the purpose and significance of Mankind and its existence. If we leave one or more line of work out, there is always a nagging feeling something is missing. The best thing to do when we recognize the need, is to "Begin Again" balancing all three as best we can.

Jerry said...

Your understanding on the relationship of Being/Doing as complimentary rather than opposites is right on the mark, immho. Of course, it is a little easier for one to see this once they come to understand that sometimes the thing to do is "nothing." The pressure people often feel that they should be doing something is personal conditioning. When doing arises as an expression of being there is no should as motivation.

You say at the end of your post, "This discovery of imagination, Neville called God’s “Promise. There is nothing any person can do to earn it. It is sheer Grace and comes in its own good time.” It seems to me that Grace is not a preferential matter as some people suppose. That is to say, grace is not dispensed to a select number of people. Rather, grace is always, already available to any and all.

It is sort of like radio waves. They are present even when they are not detected by a reciever tuned to their frequency. However, when the radio receiver is properly tuned in they are made manifest through that receiver. The receiver does not "earn" the radio waves, but it does need to be in a ready condition in order to receive and translate those waves into meaningful sounds.

Joel said...

To do, is essentially to create, by manifesting our thoughts through action. What we do should be in harmony with what needs to be done. Why do we act, what is our intention behind the act? If the intention is driven entirely by our ego, our actions will not take into account if we hurt others in the process. If, however, our actions are for the greater good, we will be driven by a greater purpose outside of our selves. We all have free will to do what we want. But what do we really want, if we look beyond ourselves? What would we do if we were God? Our actions should be as if God was working through us. In other words, we should to exactly what we feel needs to be done for the greater good. Not the greater good of our country, religion or culture, but the greater good of all.