The theme of our exploration is playing as Being, but what does that mean, and how do we play? Here are some hints.
In preparation for this adventure, spend some time asking yourself about the difference between what you are and what you have. We say “I am a woman” or “I am a Frenchman” or “I am a carpenter” but in all these cases we can also say “my gender is female” or “my citizenship is French” or “my profession is carpentry.” In other words, we can consider all these attributes as something we have, without identifying it with something that we are.
An interesting question is whether we can find a type of freedom from identification. Without denying or changing any identification we hold, like gender, nationality, job, we can wear them lightly, like comfortable clothes. We can wear our identifications without identifying so totally with them that there is no room left for imagining that the attributes could have been otherwise. Can we view all that we normally consider as what we are as instead something that we have? Can we view all `am’ as `have’ as if all the `am’ layers are just so many layers in an onion without the presence of an unquestioned solid core?
We don’t have to come up with a specific answer. Just entertaining this question is a good start.
The second step in the preparation is to form some kind of notion or image of what ultimate reality could be, and to give that the name Being for now, as a simple label. This is quite a tricky step, since words like “ultimate” and reality” should not be taken literally and conceptually but rather as hints or pointers. But we have to start somewhere and a large part of our exploration will be to refine our understanding of what this “Being” could possibly mean. Openness to the possibility of significant shifts in our understanding of “Being” is an important prerequisite for embarking on our adventure.
For starters, we can consider the following working hypothesis: all that appears is (in some sense yet to be explored) presented by Being. A way to work with this working hypothesis is to do the following homework: Appreciate the presence of appearance as a presentation by Being. In many different situations, take a moment: consider all that appears both inside your own thoughts and feelings as well as in the world outside of you, and simply appreciate their presence while considering them as given (in some sense; the sense may shift) by Being.
There are parallels and differences between this type of exploration and some contemplative exercises. In Taoism we may try to see everything as given in and as the Tao. In monotheistic religions we may see everything as given by a single God. In Buddhism we may consider everything as given in and as emptiness or suchness. You may find it helpful to start with any of those perspectives, but even so, it would be best to keep an open mind as to how exactly Being may be related to any of these other notions.
Format: A One Percent Time Tax
After playing a bit with a shift between what we consider ourselves to have and to be, and after imagining all that appears for us as just so many presentations of Being, whatever that may mean, we are ready to start our main investigation.
During each day, we take an hour or more during which we impose a one percent time tax on our activities. Roughly each quarter of an hour, we spend about nine seconds on this type of exploration (there are 900 seconds in 15 minutes, hence the 1% tax). During this time, take a full breath, relax, and focus on considering yourself as Being. In other words, play as Being. Immediately following that, write down a few words in your journal, whatever pops up in your mind. Keep it short, and write at most one short sentence.
It would be optimal if during the roughly 15 minutes in between each 9-second pause, you would keep the notion of play as Being in mind, tasting it, playing with it, considering it, holding it in mind in whatever way feels most natural. But no matter how much or how little you succeed in thinking about it, at least during those 9 second intervals do try to focus on playing as Being, and then jot down a quick one-liner, reflecting whatever comes up spontaneously.
At first it may take you more than 9 seconds, and just opening your journal, whether paper or electronic, and finding the place to write may already use up your time. Don’t worry, when you do this regularly you’ll find ways to streamline the process. It will become something of a second nature, before too long. Doing this regularly will let you think more about playing as Being also in between the 9-second breaks, and that in turn will make it easier to pick up the thread swiftly during the 9-second reporting window.
If all this makes little sense to you, not to worry. At the time when I started this blog, I also began this exploration myself, for the first time. I am more than happy to compare notes, discussing whatever aspect you would like to talk/write about. I am happy to play the role of moderator, and where needed mentor, but I am sure that I stand to learn as much from you, each and all, as you from me.
The main point is to make this into a kind of joint research, in which we can compare similarities and differences in our approaches and in the results we find. If we can form a community of peers, involved in exploring reality day-by-day in the laboratory of our own life, sharing what we see and learn, I have nothing further to wish for.
I hope that at least some of you who read this are willing to give this investigation a try, for an hour a day or longer, whatever feels comfortable. The total time commitment is small, only a few minutes a day even when you do it during a total period of several hours a day. The main problem will probably be discipline, to remind yourself to do it at all. And there is no need to commit yourself for any long period: just doing it for a few days will already be interesting, although a few weeks or months or longer will give you more of a chance to really dive into it.