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How Our Machine-Based Way of Life is Not Only Destroying Nature, It Is Also Destroying Us

In a society with little time for rest, our sense of self is identified with anxiety and accomplishment instead of our true being.

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Many of us, especially powerful people, actually value our manipulations of machines over our human relationships, and over activities or engagements that do not involve machines, like reading a book, taking a walk, or watching a sunset. The living spirit inside us was not made by a machine, neither was the sun, nor the sky, nor the earth. But the way we live denotes that machines are more significant than any of these things, and such a way of life neglects our opportunities for truly being human.

Why, in our modern world, is going valued so utterly and completely over being? Why, indeed, is being so profoundly devalued, held in high suspicion, and looked upon as idleness and laziness? Perhaps because if one is simply being, simply enjoying being alive, being human, being in time and space, being a human being; then one is not contributing to the slavish wheel of commerce, one is not feeding the grand capitalist system with one's time and energy, with one's blood, sweat, and tears, or with one's very life.

In the state of being, we cannot be accounted for by the measuring sticks of materialism.

Going makes money, being has no need for it. Going needs to be fueled by saleable items like gasoline and coffee, doughnuts and cell phones, CDs and computers; being needs no fuel, its fuel is the acceptance and appreciation of whatever exists in this moment. Going has many goals and agendas that require much effort and activity to accomplish. Being has only one goal: to be. In a state of being, just being is enough.

“What the hell are you talking about!?!” you exclaim, jumping out of your seat. “What is this being of which you speak?!?” In the modern world, there is an unacknowledged social consensus that we should always be preoccupied with some form of outside stimulation, that we are forever in need of something we don't have—we've become chronic “channel-surfers" of life. That's why we're always going. We can't relax. Most of us can't just sit with ourselves for five seconds.

In a state of being, however, we have the opportunity to notice what we are experiencing without reactively and automatically pursing our attachments, cravings, or desires. In a state of being, we are able to notice what our minds are thinking, and what our bodies are feeling. We are able to notice, or sense internally, the sensations inside our own skin and our perceptions of the world around us, as well as how it feels to simply be in the world. Attunement to your being is the same thing as becoming aware of your presence: the spirit, force, energy, or whatever you would call the essence of who and what you are as a living, sentient human being.

Although being is shared by all humans of all cultures and all eras, and by all living creatures, in truth, being as an aspect of our human condition and potential is not a reinforced or celebrated capacity in modern Western culture. Because we focus so exclusively on going and on becoming, you could say that being is not an innately modern Western phenomenon or faculty. Therefore, it is somewhat strange for us to consider. In fact, b eing is more well known to pre-Western, indigenous, and Eastern cultural paradigms in which humans co-existed more directly with the planet and with one another. Being implies a sense of profound interconnection and interrelationship with the social and natural world, involving not only one's mental processes but also one's body awareness, sensations, energies, instincts, and intuitions.

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