Years ago I took a class called Personal Choice, Development and Behavior. Its focus: How we allow our decisions to control and affect our life. We participated in group discussions on personal development, choice. How indecision is still considered a decision and an active choice. The topic of human beings verses human doings came up. Confusing, perhaps however, I totally understood the point the instructor was making.
He asked the group, “Are you a human being or a human doing?” Most sat silently pondering this Zen-like statement. He then asked, “Who are you choosing NOT to be?” You could hear a pin drop. A classmate whispered, “What non-prescription drugs is this instructor on?” Was this class a group test study for individuals who experimented with mind altering chemicals in the 70’s? I continued listening to the group mutter their answers but hesitant to voice them to the instructor.
I remember breaking the silence by saying, “I choose a human being.” The class chuckled. One student sarcastically blurted, “I thought we were all human beings!” When asked why I chose what seem to be the obvious answer I explained that anyone could be a human doing but it takes great skill, discipline and self confidence to be a human being. Others began choosing their sides and within minutes we had two groups formed. Two students chose human-doings and twenty-one chose human beings. When the two who chose human doings were asked why they made their choice they said it was just their choice, no other reason. The instructor questioned us individually about how we reached our decision. Most of their answers were consistently similar: I am a human being by birth, by evolution, by my God; one stated he became a human being after he got married, or at least that’s what his wife says.
The instructor turned his attention back to me. I stated that day after day I have witness people being human doings; doing their jobs, doing recreational activities, doing criminal acts, out doing, over doing, the list goes on. They are pushing themselves to the point where they have forgotten what it is to BE. The class pressed me to answer, “To BE what?” I said, “To just be – no need to fill in the blank.” Sometimes we need to realize its okay to just BE.
The instructor understood. He asked me who I was choosing NOT to be. To lighten the mood I said, “I’m choosing not to be bored with this session.” But in the past I chose not to be many things for fear of being mocked, ridiculed, lonely and even worse acknowledged. Imagine not wanting to be acknowledged! I was choosing not to be smart, talented, fearless and compassionate. At that point in my life I was going through a rough patch. After a nerve-racking divorce I chose a new life journey – choosing not to carry personal baggage packed with negative self-esteem issues and negative self talk.
I asked my classmates are you truly a human being or are you a human doing. Are you doing things to escape your personal baggage instead of facing it head on, are you so busy doing things like working in a dead end job that you don’t see the green light ahead. There is an old saying, “Do what you’ve always done and you get what you’ve always gotten.” This is true of human doings. There is no possibility for change if you do what you’ve always done. Learn to be – just be – without the urge to fill in the blank. Let go of self-inflicted responsibilities, deadlines, past and present judgments of who you should be. Let go of the challenges to be like another human doing. Your life will begin to relax and welcome the human being again.
After class the instructor asked if I’d studied the Teachings of Zen or Buddhism. I asked will it get me a passing grade. Before he could answer I said, “No however, I’ve learned from life experience that it’s okay to be . . . nothing more – nothing less. I’m comfortable in my own skin. I no longer pretend to be something or someone I’m not.” Needless to say I received an A+ for the class. Human being or a human doing the choice is up to you.