I am a human being, not a human doing

I am a human being, not a human doing

betty ming liu Inspiration 9 Comments

My busy life is getting on my nerves; I’m tired. I’m also ready to minimize distractions, which are a form of madness. So here’s what I’m thinking now: I am a human being, not a human doing.

When I first heard this line, part of me screamed out, yessss!!! Even though some people consider this little saying a cliché, it really speaks to me.

I am a human being, not a human doing

I like it so much that I’m sitting here, itching to expand this blog post. What else can I add?

Hmmm. My google search turned up 249 million hits for “I am a human being, not a human doing.” Part of me wants to figure out who said this first, where the line came from.

Except, here’s the thing: if I start researching the origins for this powerful thought about my humanity, it’ll take hours. Hours that I could spend as a human being instead of a human doing.

Let’s not go there. Instead, I turn to you. If you definitely know who said “I am a human being, not a human doing,” I hope you’ll post a comment. But if our crowdsourcing doesn’t turn up an answer, then maybe it doesn’t really matter.

Wow, how’s that for a revolutionary approach?

being vs. doing

Maybe it’s enough to share the thought and my jpeg for “I am a human being, not a human doing.” I made it because the other ones already out there are kind of bland. I need color to feel inspired. So if my image for this quote appeals to you, grab it and share!

To be honest, being instead of doing feels both relaxing and anxiety-inducing at the same time. Sitting still is new for me. But I can see where the act of being is a form acceptance, of setting boundaries and protecting myself from spreading too thin.

Okay. Deep breath. Let me see how it feels to end this post now.

Clearly, I’m going to need practice at being rather than doing. If you can relate, I’d love to hear from you. xo

Comments 9

  1. I love this, Betty! For the past several months, I have been trying to have more experiences, more joy, and fewer must-do things. Don’t get me wrong: I’m still DOING things, but I am relishing more time just BEING. Just sitting quietly on the train, reading my Bible, or taking a moment to escape to the quiet room at work and just sit in silence. It is helping me to BE better. So I totally get you! Thanks for this post!

    1. Post
  2. Hi Betty!

    Wise words, indeed!

    I first heard “human being, not human doing” during a dharma talk at a meditation retreat I attended at the Bhavana Forest Monastery in High View, WV. I don’t think it was attributed to the Buddha (Bhavana is a Buddhist monastery in the Theravedan tradition.) but it was spoken by the head monk, Bhante Gunaratana. The concept was very helpful to me in my effort to sit for meditation.

    A related idea for me is contained in John Lennon’s song “Watching the Wheels.”

    “I’m just sitting here watching the wheels go ’round and ’round.
    I really love to watch them roll.
    No longer riding on the merry go round ,
    I just had to let it go.”

    Sending my best wishes to you.


    1. Post

      Doralee, the retreat sounds like it was so memorable. Wow. And the Lennon song makes the point so well, too. As for the human being/doing quote, it’s been used by so many sources that I have no idea of the originator. And we don’t need to know! Thanks for sharing and for your good wishes. Warm wishes right back to you!

  3. Much of our “doing” is a constant effort to prove self-worth, whereas actually, in the words of “Desiderata” we are children of the universe and have as much right to be here as the stars and the trees.” Self worth is our birthright. Everything we do in our lives fills in the time we have on Earth. Hopefully we will fill in that time with actions that make it a better world in some way and that includes making ourselves better people by taking the time to reflect, to meditate on the wonders of this life and to seek our own peace. There is another well known cliché that says “let there be peace and let it begin with me.” Such sayings may be well worn in repetition but that is because they are true. In philosophy, truth is usually simple. In fact I would say the more complicated a philosophy is, the higher the BS level.

    1. Post

      Toby, I feel that it’s about trusting that I AM worth enough already. Totally agree with your point — it really does have to begin with us. And, lol about higher BS levels. So true.

    1. Post
  4. Pingback: Mommy makeover: what was, what's new, what's now - betty ming liu

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *