“Being” By Larry Newman
---Painting by Beverly Davis
What can an oak tree do to be more oak? More tree? Can it be less, standing there in the back yard silent before the sun? No, it can only be itself. Being is not something that can be improved or lessened; only found or hidden. A knife can be sharpened or dulled but it is still a knife. Its being does not define its usefulness any more than usefulness can define being. Usefulness can be honed but it does not change what something truly is.
We try to make it complicated, we humans. We gather titles like a stamp collection hoping to lick-n-stick something that will tell us what we are. I am a grandfather, a father, a son, a husband, a brother, a friend, a businessman, a photographer, a poet, a boss, a servant, a mower of lawns, a shoveller of snow, a walker, a biker, a vegetarian … the list goes on and on. Attempting to express what I am yields all these things yet none of them is me. At times not really knowing I express myself with all the focus of a blindfolded child swinging at a birthday piñata.
Then where am “I”? I cannot even point at my own flesh and say, “Here am I!” Since my birth nearly every living cell in my body has died and been replaced with new ones. Every molecule that forms me is borrowed from a previous existence of some other form. From the first two cells donated by my parents to the water I drink, the minerals and fuels I consume, everything is borrowed and will one day be returned to the blending of the universe to be used over and over. “I” must be found elsewhere than my ever-changing physicality.
My thoughts are no less, and indeed, considerably more ephemeral than my body. Like sunlight on the waves of the lake my thoughts glimmer and gleam, dance and dazzle but they are only reactions to stimuli. Voices in the mist chatting to themselves about whatever stirs them. Wind on the water, sunlight on the waves are an intriguing sight but nothing that captures our attention is really the water, only reactions to stimuli. We must be more than our chaotic thoughts if we are truly more than the changing wind and fading sunlight. It is comforting, and perhaps a clue, to understand that when the wind is still and the sun is down … the lake remains.
Everything in existence changes. Some things slowly like mountains and stars, some quickly like mayflies and the wind in the trees. Everything that is integral to our existence is mutable and temporary. That being true, where are we? If not our body, if not our thoughts, then what is it that we can point at and say, “Here! Here I am!”
Perhaps, the need to point is part of the problem and the ability to point is the heart of the solution. Naming and defining has been a part of the human paradigm since the Garden. But ‘A rose by any other name would smell as sweet’ so it is not the title or titles we cling to that define us. In wanting to point and breathe a sigh of relief saying, “Ah. There I am.” we try to objectify our existence. And fail in the trying. How do you know a knife is a knife and not a cup? How do you know a tree is a tree and not just a grouping of sunlight, water, earth and air? How is it that wind is wind and not rain? It is not just the names that define them. It is their place in the mozaic of creation, their purpose.
Creation is very much like a painting being expressed by the hand of God. Different pigments, different shapes, different forms of light and shadow all being applied by His brushstrokes. Pigment is only pigment until a master’s hand uses it to create beauty. When is red not a color but a flower? When it is placed on the canvas with purpose. And there is the light. We know a knife is a knife because we recognise its purpose. A tree is more than its constituent elements because its life and form have a purpose. We are beings of ephemeral thoughts and transient elements but we are more when we find our purpose.
The pigment does not decide to be a flower, or a sky or water. Its purpose is defined by its place in the Artists creation. We are more than the pigment of our existence.
Enamored with the sound of our thoughts we think thinking is us but who is listening? Aware of our body we see our place in the world and fear that it will die but who is aware? Who sees? Who fears? There is that which needs no voice, does not need to speak to be. There is that which does not need to see to be. The knife does not need to be cutting to be a knife. We are not in the voices, we are not in the seeing, we are not in the doing. As the presence of God can be found in silence it is important to know that that which is truly us is like Him. We must find the silence (“Be still, and know that I am God&rdquo and there, in the stillness where only being dwells we will find that the searcher has been found. In the Spirit of the Artist from who’s hand we are formed we will find our purpose. In the finding we should smile that we have been asking the wrong question all along. It is not “Who am I” or “What am I” or even “Where am I” but rather … Why.
By Larry Newman
January 24, 2013
WEBSITE: As We Awaken