I usually write it with a capital: Being. But strictly it is just another noun, so it’s fine as simply being.
Except it’s not…because that devalues its importance.
Being is the word. Being is the gold ‘hidden in plain sight’ of the alchemists.. They were searchers for the inner nature of Nature. Some of them found it but had to create a language of obfuscation or be burned at the stake.
Let’s set it in context: Being is the highest state of existing we can envisage. It is a state of such utter fullness-in-itself, that all else in creation aspires to it, the aspirer believing itself to be separate, then finding that the separation was an illusion, all along. Nothing actually changes except the consciousness of the experiencer. And then that changes everything. It’s a paradox. The highest concepts in mysticism often are. It’s a deliberate way to turn the mind.
The world ‘plane’ is often used here; in the sense that Being is ‘on a different plane”. Frequent use and repetition of ‘plane’ takes away the true sharpness of meaning; and the modern association with an aircraft doesn’t help. Rosicrucian mystics of a previous generation, like my father, used ‘plane’ extensively to paint an inner picture of a world tightly linked with ours, but above it.
‘Above’ it creates its own problems, as we immediately look up! This involuntary vertical association undoubtedly derives from religious pictures of holy figures in the air, or on a kingdom of clouds. Saints, Saviours and God were to be seen in this different land – represented as elevated humans of course… which has an amusing irony of its own.
Being is more correctly placed as ‘within’ the other, rather than above it. That sense of inner separation at least implies that Being is at the heart of everything – although its very nature may later suggest that there never was an outer… Paradox is everywhere at this level of language, and used to tease at something that can only truly be experienced, not written about. But we must try; to recombine old words so that a hint of what lies beyond the tired letters may trickle through.
There are, then two worlds: Being and Becoming. Being does not become. It is already what the next state is. It unfolds. Human consciousness sees a past and a future and ascribes becoming to the prior state of what has just arrived in front of us.
In last week’s blog I wrote about how our use of language literally locks us into the ‘level of being’ that we currently occupy. I catch the ball is an example. ‘I’ is the subject. ‘ball’ is the object. There is a verb – a doing word in the middle. One of the keys to understanding the role of language in spirituality is that there must always be a subject and a doing-word for ordinary consciousness to make sense of it.
Language does permit ‘the ball is caught’. But it’s an abstraction. We envisage that here is someone, as yet unstated, who, as subject, has caught the ball. So, all is right with the world. No-one has broken the laws of doing by getting rid of the doer.
If we postulate that there could be a ‘state’ of caught…. Without there necessarily being a catcher, then our brain consciousness begins to get a bit queasy. Our mind quickly constructs something like: ‘He has been caught’ to correct the potential void that looks troublesome.
This can rapidly get academic, whereas Being is not at all academic. It’s a state of experience. More accurately, it’s a state of consciousness beyond the brain’s normal world of perception; a state in which the observer is changed into something else – without loss of continued consciousness.
It’s a state in which the experiencer and what is being experienced are the same. There is no subject-object relationship, no ‘me and it’. There is a continuous stream of knowing – the origin of the world ‘gnosis’. Some of our Silent Eye students humorously remark that this crystal-clear consciousness is an act of gnowing… And that’s accurate.
The mind is a better word. The mind has a magical ability to look out on the world… or back on Being – the place it came from. When the mind looks at the world it sees duality: subject and object, me and it, the world of doing. When it looks back at its source, it sees an all-and-everywhere centre of the universe, its home, and its substance. Being birthed the mind, which bore the egoic self; each is a reflection of the source at the next outer level only a return to that source – fully conscious, restores mankind’s rightful place in the universe.
All spiritual journeys are along this path. Various techniques are used, but the inner goal is the same. Eventually, we loosen the ties between subject and object, me and that, so that we cast off our ‘subject anchor’ and learn to sail on a different sea. Nothing of real value is lost. The ship is better navigated from the top of the mast rather than at the wheel on the deck…and the air is beautiful up there.
Other parts of this series:
©Stephen Tanham 2022
Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being.