Lightbulb Moment: Are You a Human Being – or a Human Having?

September 13th, 2013 by Laura Longley

Lightbulb  Moment

The Laura Longley Show

September 3, 2013

You can listen to the entire show here:

From the show transcript:

I’m going to move right in to talking about this week’s Light Bulb Moment. Usually I do a little preview at this time in the show and then do the show. But, we’re going to just jump right into it today. What triggered the practice I’m going to focus on was I’ve been watching CSI, I’ve been getting from the library all of the CSI seasons beginning with season 1. I’m now up to season 11, so I’ve been doing it for a while. On one of the shows I watched over the weekend they talked about Erich Fromm’s-he’s a philosopher, psychologist or psychiatrist-and his theory about there being 2 orientations that human beings can be. One is a having orientation, and one is a being orientation. I’m just going to really quickly read to you what he says about it. I don’t normally read long things like this, but I think it would be helpful to understand.

“The mode of being has at its prerequisite independence, freedom, and the presence of critical reason. It’s fundamental characteristic is that of being active, not in the sense of being outward activity of business, but of inner activity, the productive use of our human powers. To be active means to give expression to one’s faculties, talents, to the wealth of human gifts with which every human being is endowed. It means to renew oneself, to grow, to flow out, to love, to transcend the prison of one’s isolated ego, to be interested, to give. Only to the degree we decrease the mode of having, that is of non-being, in other words we stop finding security and identity by clinging to what we have by sitting on it, by holding onto our ego and possessions, can the mode of being emerge.”

This is about the dichotomy of having is a lot about things. It’s not only about having physical things, but having-holding onto what we think our identity is. It’s holding on. It’s clinging. Actually, this whole thing about Erich Fromm came up in CSI in an episode on hoarding and why people might hoard. They’re afraid to let go of things. Having orientation is about fear. It’s about fear of not having enough. It’s about fear of we need these things in order to survive in life. The being orientation, as you heard from what I was reading, is really about human connection. It’s about love and it’s about being in that space of our higher self. This spoke to me when they talked about it on the show. I feel like a lot of the work I’ve been doing myself in the past year has been around shifting, starting to shift from that having orientation into the being orientation.

What happened for me, I think really where it started for me was that month I spent in Edinburgh in November last year. I believe my whole purpose for being there was to learn to be, to not have to be outwardly busy, to not have to have a goal, to not have to be working, to not have to do anything, but to just be. It took me a long time to get that. I have so benefited from that in the meantime. I’ve used that lesson a lot since then. One place was when I was going through this whole process with my house. I was able to say, I’m going to let go of a lot of these other things I think I should be doing and allow myself to have this experience and focus on this particular experience and not try to overdo it. It allowed me to be able to not force and not resist, but allow things to evolve in terms of what my life path is. That had really been something that had been up in the air for me in the past year. I feel like I came to resolution with it in May. I had no idea when that was going to happen. I just allowed. That’s some examples of how I am being more in the being orientation. That doesn’t mean that I don’t still have the having orientation. I’m just shifting where more of my energy is in the being orientation. I will say, for me, the move and giving up a lot of my possessions to move from a 3 bedroom home to a 1 bedroom apartment has also been really critical in that shift that I’ve been making.

Just very quickly, ways that you can start making that shift for yourself, frankly I do not believe that having orientation serves us, I don’t believe we can truly be happy when we are fully in a having orientation.

  1. Think about why having is so important to you. It’s all about fear. What are you afraid of?
  2. Take yourself to the ultimate of whatever that fear is. Maybe you’re afraid of being homeless, having no job, maybe you think that possessions define you.
  3. Take time out to just be with no agenda. You can do a silent retreat, take a walk, spend time in conversation with others where it’s not about a goal.
  4. Of course, our old friend meditation is always a great way to get into that being mode rather than the having mode.

So, what do you think? Are you a human being, or a human having?

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