To be or not to be, that is the question
“The horrors of eternity and what it means to be? These are the questions, the answers haunting me.” The first line of a song that I wrote 15 years ago or so. Questions that had haunted me from childhood to well after that song was written. Questions that are still food for thought.
What does it mean to be?
I compare to a near synonym “exist”. “To be” in comparison to exist, has personality. It has personal perspective, time and place perspective. “To be”, “is”, “are”, “were”, “am”, “was”, “have been” are all synonyms of “exist”, all forms of “to be”, yet are different perspective. “Is” is an external perspective, from the observers point of view. “Are” is plural and may be external, “they are”, or inclusive of the internal and external, “we are”. “Am” is first person perspective is present tense, and, as with “is” and “are”, is often static suggesting that this isness or state of being extends to the past and the future. “Was”, “were”, “have been”, “will be” are all outside of the present and refer to a static state. “Be” is unique. It toes the fine line of the horizon where the future meets the present. It is the only form of “to be” that is inherently an action verb. It also suggests choice, plan, or expectation. Though we can add modifiers that place “be” external of self and personal choice “You will be”, “be” by itself indicates personal perspective and choice. To “be” is to actively choose to exist. As such, I believe that it implies self-awareness, consciousness, and free choice. I choose to Be.
I have personally experienced and have heard and read of the experience of others, a state of being that is distributed, that is not restricted to the confines of the body. Such states of being can be very expansive and, per reports, include all of this universe and perhaps others. I understand being and consciousness, as an inherent property that pervades all of our reality. I arrived at this understanding through science and philosophy and have since felt its meaning by direct experience. There is a state of being that is being all that is. Some might choose to call this all inclusive state of being God. I intend to write more on this at a later date.
What is a being? Via a subtle change in sentence structure, the addition of “a”, we convert the verb to a noun, a thing. A being is a thing, an entity that performs the act of being, that chooses to be. While it is philosophically deducible that there is a being that is all that is (see the ontological argument), the term “a” suggests one of multiple in comparison to “the” which could refer to a singular entity without equivalent. A being is thus an entity which chooses to be and recognizes itself as distinct from the general state of being of all that is. A being may choose to settle in and define itself according structures within physically measurable reality such as human bodies, and this restriction is illusory. I have personally experienced my being as anywhere from a tiny spot in the center of a brain that considers itself lord and ruler over the rest of the body designed to carry me around; to a being rooted deep in the earth, able to feel and connected to the the movements of the stars above.
Being is independent of living. Being penetrates, rocks, stars, crystals, fire, air. Life is a peculiar process that converts energy to complexity. It offers a mechanism for trialing a vast range of ideas in many different contexts. Living creatures including humans are largely automations governed by mathematically deterministic biomechanical processes. While being certainly pervades all life forms, the distinction and self-awareness that defines “a being” is not inherent. Life has created interesting pockets for being to settle in to and identify with. In the particular case of human life, words, structures, and concepts have been built up to create the illusion of a highly separate entity that has forgotten its connection to other beings and the general state of being of all that is. This simultaneously presents many wonderful possibilities as well as many difficult challenges on this bleeding edge of learning and growth where things are incredibly real. While I choose a human life in which to be in this moment, I find it very helpful to remember that my confinement in this life and body is a chosen illusion and limitation, and to connect with other beings and the greater whole to remember that these are also me.
I offer this as a first attempt at an elegant description of my evolving answer to a question that has occupied my being for 30 years of this particular lifetime that I choose to participate in. It is the first bit of solidity that I stand upon in choosing who I am, why I am here, and how I choose to be. It is no small coincidence that this is the first word of the guiding principles of the culture that I am choosing to cocreate. In order for me to do anything, to agree to anything, to become anything, I must first choose to be and then begin to define the being that I am, my scope, my purpose.