Human Beings or Human Becomings?

Monday Jul 5, 2010

You are more than a human being, you are a human becoming.”

– Og Mandino, from The Greatest Miracle in the World

Becoming and being are the yin and yang of our lives. One inner one outer. Today, we value becoming to the exclusion of being; we applaud human becomings. The secret is balance.”

– Unknown

These two quotes recently showed up in my life and I’ve been thinking about them a lot lately. The first quote, I read in David Wolfe’s book, The Sunfood Diet Success System. It’s a really simple quote, but it’s depth is as vast as our egos. The second, I enjoy because it is calming to me in this era when time moves so fast. I’ve been noticing a lot of people in my life who are trapped by their own beliefs in who they are and how it limits their becoming of who they want to be. This lesson seems pretty universal to me as we all have egos that enjoy the status quo.

The difference between being and becoming

What does it mean to suggest that we are human becomings as well as human beings. The word “being” is a form of the verb “to be” which can be rewritten as “I am” for use as we’re concerned with. It is often used in the form “I am … something.” An example of this would be “I am healthy” or “I am unhealthy.” Each of us has a different definition of what healthy is, but regardless, to declare “I am healthy” is to create mental boundaries that define what you are. Now contrast this to the phrase, “I am becoming healthy.” Here, instead of being healthy or not healthy, you are in a gradient in between the two, and area of grays between the black and white. “Becoming” has opened a doorway or a path from unhealthy towards healthy. It implies change and transitioning and with a positive mindset it implies growth. Being is static. Becoming is dynamic.

One of the interesting quirks of the human mind and more particularly the subconscious is that it will try to make its own internal worldview true. This is particularly clear, when someone gets the flaws in their worldview showed to them. There are many examples, but a good popular one is from the movie A Few Good Men, “You want the truth, You can’t handle the truth.” This highlights an ego that cannot accept that the ego is wrong. Some people fail to see what is right in front of their face, such as corrupt politicians of their political party. Some people, when confronted will say something like, “I would never do something like that.” And honestly not remember the issue at hand. Similarly, the brain when having control of the processes of the body, will use those processes to mold the body to conform to worldview.

You are more than a human being, you are a human becoming”

We all innately know that life is a process of change and that nothing exists which is truly static, but for many people the construction of their ego and worldview in their subconscious loses the understanding that all is in a process of change. Let’s look at a person looking to transition from unhealthy to healthy. Similar to what was stated above, the phrase “I am unhealthy” creates a mental barrier where the mind must create obstacles preventing the person from being healthy. So even if the conscious part of the mind is thinking, “I want to become healthy,” if the unconscious mind knows, “I am unhealthy,” then the person will experience obstacles in their path towards health. To a worldview that doesn’t understand “becoming,” there is only “I am unhealthy” and “I am healthy.” The path from unhealthy to healthy is a switch, or a vertical wall. In the engineering world, we would call it an impulse. Please see Figure 1. In this worldview, it is either all or nothing. It is extremely hard to become healthy with this worldview, because their own mind will create so many obstacles preventing them from actually becoming healthy. Now let’s look at a worldview that deeply understands that life is under constant change and is always in the process of “becoming.” The path of becoming is a gradual progression of manageable steps from unhealthy to healthy. It’s slope can be as steep or as shallow as one can imagine. There are infinite paths from unhealthy to healthy. (On a similar side note, one of our challenges in achieving what we want is to not define the path to our goal to the extent that we miss out on taking other paths to that goal which would get us there quicker, but that’s a topic for another post.) This path is broken down into smaller steps that the brain can accept as being achievable. Whereas a person might not be able to understand what it’s like to be healthy, maybe they can understand the joy of a runner’s high. This is a path that is much easier to progress on.

The wisdom of redefining our worldviews in terms of becoming rather than being is profound, because becoming removes a lot of the obstacles from achieving our goal. A person who “is unhealthy” is not going to go for a run or to eat a better diet, whereas a person who is “becoming healthy” is someone who is on the path to health. The first step towards achieving a goal is to understand that you are on a path to becoming the person who has already achieved that goal. Similarly, another shift can be made at the end of the goal. Some people are on endless paths, where they are never healthy enough or never wealthy enough to be happy. At some point, it can be wise to switch mindsets from, “I am becoming healthy,” to “I am healthy.” This isn’t necessary or always adviseable. If your happiness comes from the process of becoming rather than the state of being your ego thinks you should be in, then your happiness is limited only by your willingness to improve rather than where you are. Or in other words, “Life’s a journey, not a destination.”

Becoming and being are the yin and yang of our lives. One inner one outer. Today, we value becoming to the exclusion of being; we applaud human becomings. The secret is balance.”

I really like this quote but for a different reason. While the first quote is true in that each day we are becoming bigger, more expanded versions of ourselves, the reason to exist it not solely to become greater. Our existence is experiential, or in other words, we exist to have experiences, and these experiences lead us to growth. Our awareness of what we experience is a point of focus. We choose what we want to focus on whether we realize it or not. We can choose to focus on the becoming or on the being. For example, we can choose to experience, “I am becoming happy,” or we can choose to experience, “I am happy.”

While we are “becoming,” we also exist as a certain state of “being.” This being, can be as joyful as the process of becoming. The realization of becoming is to become aware of your power to create the life you want to experience and the realization of being is to become aware that every experience is a path towards growth (towards Godliness). How can you be unhappy, when every experience is leading to further and further greatness? Pain and pleasure are two sides of the same coin which both lead to further happiness. Once this is realized, you can choose a path which provides you with pleasure rather than pain. At first, you are happy for pain, because it is the path to pleasure, and later you choose a path which doesn’t lead towards pain, by focusing on creating pleasure before the pain is needed to redirect your path.

If you find yourself in a space where you are experiencing, “I am unhappy,” or in other words pain, what you are really experiencing is the way the universe tells you that you need to take action to experience something that resonates more deeply with your true self. If you fail to become aware of your unhappiness or in what experience is causing you to experience that, then life cranks up the volume of pain until your perception can become aware of it. To master being and becoming, become more sensitive to the causes of your pain, and then use your creativity to change your path.

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