What is Being and What is Non-being?

By Peter Worman

To be or not to be, that is the question?

This is one of the better-known quotes from Shakespeare from his play Hamlet and spoken by Hamlet.

So what is it to be or not to be or put another way what is being and what is non-being?

This is a question that has troubled philosophers since the beginning of recorded time. Why are we called human beings and not human goings or human non-beings? What are we referring to when we refer to the depth of our beings. Are we being or are we becoming or are we somewhere in between?

There is no doubt that many human beings feel a disconnect, a feeling that there’s something more to life and many seek out a teacher and if they’re lucky, their teacher might pose some of the above questions to him/her and might even ask them who they are. Not their name or station but who is at the core of their essence?  And it is to this core that being relates to, because being implies just being and becoming implies a departure from being.

So we might find it useful to become aware of those moments when we are taken away so to speak, when we become angry or sad or when we become satisfied. This is a departure from that simple being that is so obvious in a baby or a young child. They just ARE, nothing more nothing less, nothing added or subtracted. The Wise tell us to strive to get to know the peace that arises from this being, from this experience of completeness.

This isn’t easy as we have become accustomed to becoming but as they say practice makes perfect and every time you notice your attention drifting into becoming, pause, pray and gently turn again to being.