Do Be Do Be Do

Last week a client asked me my thoughts on the difference between doing and being, and which one I feel is more important. 

Doing is more active. Numerically speaking, the word “do” vibrates to number 1—the path of the leader. In my experience, leaders tend to be more outward; they stir things up. It’s in the act of doing that we serve others.

               “Service is the rent we pay for living.” —Shirley Chisholm

Hit the ground running

Hit the ground running by Len Buchanan

Being is more passive. Numerically speaking the word “be” vibrates to the number 7—the path of the loner. In my experience, loners tend to be more inward; they’re reflective. When we listen in the quietness of being, we learn what to do.


Being by Len Buchanan

Somewhat like Tai Chi, I believe that weaving a balanced combination of both threads—doing and being—into our life’s tapestry is ideal.

Tai Chi in the morning mist by Len Buchanan

Tai Chi in the morning mist by Len Buchanan

Do Be Do Be Do….

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
               – Laurie Buchanan

© 2011 Laurie Buchanan – All Rights Reserved.

39 thoughts on “Do Be Do Be Do

  1. Laurie,

    Once again the creation of balance lies at the heart of this blog and the active/passiveness of “doing and being”.

    Neale Donald Walsch in Conversations with God Book 1 ask, “what are you being while you go about doing?” Meaning what is our consciousness, are we conscious while doing the things we do, therefore placing us in a state of Beingness.

    I am Love, Jeff

  2. Thanks for reminding me – in my twenties a friend gave me a t-shirt that said “To do is to be, to be is to do – Do Be Do Be Do Be Do!”
    I am curious how you came about the numerical vibrations of the words, having just re-read all of the Life Path numbers and loving it! ?

    • Naima – Every letter in the alphabet corresponds to a number (see the chart below). So “DO” is 4+6=10, when reduced to a single digit, a 1. And “BE” is 2+6=7 (already a single digit, so it remains the same).

      1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
      A B C D E F G H I
      J K L M N O P Q R
      S T U V W X Y Z

      I can see after hitting “publish” that the chart gets goofed up, but you get the idea:
      1= ajs
      2= bkt
      3= clu
      4= dmv
      5= enw
      6= fox
      7= gpy
      8= hqz
      9= ir

  3. Laurie, you’re not the first person I’ve seen that has associated doing with taking action and being with inaction, and I think it really misses the mark. I think that it’s much more accurate to state that doing describes the activity taking place and being describes the inner attitude, but this has nothing to do with action or inaction. For example, sleeping is doing something, but it’s not considered to be active.

    Doing tells us very little about the actual action taking place. It only looks at and describes the outer activity, but it ignores the inner activity that’s driving the action. Think of it this way, if a mother is being a martyr while she’s cooking, cleaning and taking care of the kids, how will that be different from a mother who is being dutiful or from a mother who is being loving? In every case, the mother is cooking, cleaning and care taking (doing), but the effects of her actions will be markedly different.

    From a creative standpoint, the difference between being and doing is enormous. In doing-ness, the end justifies the means. If I want the kitchen clean, I might bitch, moan and nag until I get someone to clean the kitchen. Unfortunately, besides creating a clean (maybe) kitchen, I also create animosity and hurt feelings. On the other hand, in beingness, the end (what is desired) becomes the means. If cleanliness, kindness, respect and warmth are what I desire, then these are the attitudes I will carry with me throughout the day regardless of what I’m doing. This will be how I show up in the world. Just imagine how much more simple it is to encourage the family to clean on your behalf when this is how I show up.

    Lastly, as an experiment, if someone really wants to understand the difference between being and doing then present them with the following challenge. Have them pick one thing to be all day and then challenge them to be that regardless of what shows up or what needs to be done. Whatever they choose to be should be something they desire to see manifest in their lives like peace, adventure, love, kindness, etc. No matter what shows up, this is who and what they will be. Talk about action, this is likely to be one of the toughest actions they’ll ever undertake. But it will also illuminate what it actually means to BE the change one wishes to see.

  4. I agree–it is always the balance between doing and being. I agree with both you–and Bob. I have learned that there is a fine line, perhaps even an imperceptible line between being and doing. When you meditate and go inward, you are certainly doing something. When you jog, you are certainly being.

    To me, it has become more like the back of the hand and the front of the hand. They are both “hand”. When we humans separate it into “back” and “front” we often add so many judgments along the way.

    Of course, our minds adore separating. So we shall! And we shall continue to do the dobedobedobedo dance until something inside of us sighs in relief…and we just dance.

  5. Hi Laurie et al

    I like your question, and the perspective Bob brings also.

    There is another that I continually do battle with, that of creating the perfect plan before taking action.

    Mark Joyner has a saying, ready, fire, aim! – Meaning that it is more important to take action, and to refine one’s aim later, than to spend too much time aiming and taking no action.

    Finding an appropriate balance for the problem/opportunity at hand is always interesting.

    The more one narrows one’s focus onto a specific problem, and takes actions aligned to it, the less one can see of the “big picture”.
    Everything has costs and benefits.

    Who we get to be, and what we get to do, seems to be a complex dance of habits and contexts of a lifetime.

    It seems that every path has its opportunities.

    I have been spending time recently on the works of Jared Diamond and Francis Fukuyama – very big picture thinkers and also spending time on the site, particularly listing to Daniel Dennett and also many others.

    As Bob says – the practice of choosing a context of being, irrespective of the circumstances, is one of the most difficult doings possible.

    • Ted – I so appreciate when you shared, “…I continually do battle with, that of creating the perfect plan before taking action.” And I oh-so-agree that “Every path has its opportunities.” Thank you for your visit today.

  6. Kathy, I love the front of the hand back of the hand comment because we’re always being and doing something or another. I also think that understanding the distinction between doing and being is really important from a creative view point, if ones objective is to create work and a life that they’ll love. In my opinion, it really points at whether one chooses to create consciously, or not.

    In an unconscious mindset (doing-ness), the focus is nearly always on doing. Basically it’s the thought process that if I do this, this and then that, I will get what I want. Most of the doing-ness flows out of conditioned systems of belief that promise a certain prize if I do things correctly. The traditional American Dream belief system is one such example. If you do what it takes to have a nice home, a good job, a nice car and the right relationships, you will be happy. In this case, happiness is the prize promised for all the doing.

    In beingness, one takes a different tact. If happiness is what one wants, then happiness becomes the way. It becomes one’s way of being. I look for opportunities that sound like fun. I look for fun ways to do things. I bring fun into my life. Instead of having a belief system guide the way to my happiness, I let happiness guide the way.

    If I remember correctly, a couple of the values that drive Laurie’s behavior are being uplifting, helpful, supportive and something else. That is to say that before she chooses to do something, she asks herself if it is helpful, supportive and uplifting. If it is, she moves forward. Now, when we bring being into the equation, she also considers these values as she moves forward. In other words, regardless of what she moves forward to do, she does it in a helpful, supportive and uplifting way. The doing-ness is secondary. What Laurie brings to life in the world is helpfulness, supportiveness and inspiration, not necessarily by what she does, but by being the thing itself in anything she does.

  7. Ah Laurie, as usual a brilliant post with inspiring comments taking your topic into the depths of possibility as we stitch together our being with our doing…

    As we breathe in, we shall breathe out. Sometimes it is three short breaths in to one long breath out. Sometimes it is fast and short in and out. Sometimes it is slow and shallow… in and then out. Being and doing seem to change to fit what is needed just like our breath. The constant – there is being and doing. Like our breathing in and out, there is not one without the other. They are held together in a continuous rhythm through time.

    Like our breath, we strengthen our ability to be present when we focus our intention, easing the flow between these two inseparable aspects of living.

    Beautiful Laurie, thank you for holding and hosting this space for us.

  8. Hey Ted, long time no chitty chat! Good to see you alive and kicking.

    By the way, if I translate ready, fire, aim into a beingness context, it sounds like:

    being active
    being proactive
    being flexible

    It’s the opposite of being stuck, inactive or inflexible!

    Love to all

  9. So many great thoughts, thank you all. For me being is SO much easier than doing. It appears when I am truly just BEING that I am guided to doing what is appropriate. Getting out of my own way to let divine guidance lead. It makes me think of the show with hidden cameras called, “What would you do?” that questions peoples reactions and behaviors. Should there be a show called, “What would you BE”?

  10. I love doing, it’s what I do. Being, of course, is what I am to start with. On the flip from from our two great thinkers above….Hi, Bob! Hi, Ted! ….what actually came to mind was ” Do be a Do-Bee, Don’t be a Don’t-bee!” Lordy, y’all, I couldn’t help it! I just had to say it. Thanks, Laurie, I’m through Doing for awhile, I think I’ll just Be.

    p.s. for those readers much younger than I am, that was a Romper Room motto.

  11. Laurie: In fear of being booed out of the house here (ha!) I will go with my first instancts:

    “To be, or not to be–that is the question:
    Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
    The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
    Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
    And by opposing end them. To die, to sleep–
    No more–and by a sleep to say we end
    The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
    That flesh is heir to. ‘Tis a consummation
    Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep–
    To sleep–perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub,
    For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
    When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
    Must give us pause. There’s the respect
    That makes calamity of so long life.
    For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
    Th’ oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely
    The pangs of despised love, the law’s delay,
    The insolence of office, and the spurns
    That patient merit of th’ unworthy takes,
    When he himself might his quietus make
    With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,
    To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
    But that the dread of something after death,
    The undiscovered country, from whose bourn
    No traveller returns, puzzles the will,
    And makes us rather bear those ills we have
    Than fly to others that we know not of?
    Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
    And thus the native hue of resolution
    Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
    And enterprise of great pitch and moment
    With this regard their currents turn awry
    And lose the name of action. — Soft you now,
    The fair Ophelia! — Nymph, in thy orisons
    Be all my sins remembered.”

  12. Hi, Laurie — I am a day late to the conversation (as usual). I love the dialog upstairs (Bob, Ted, Sandi – and I think Sam’s quote is from Hamlet?) and yes, I remember Romper Room. I also remember Frank Sinatra singing a song calle “Strangers in the Night.” At the end of the song he sings “do be do be do . . . bedobedobe . . .” — not sure what he had in mind singing that. There is always a doing going on in living, whether it be a passive or active doing. Your post made me more aware of how I am being while all this doing is going on and perhaps I should be more conscious of that way of being.

    • Barbara – You’re never late, whenever you arrive is always perfect timing 🙂 I remember Old Blue Eyes crooning “Strangers in the Night” and ending with dobedobedoooo as well. I’m glad you found a practical takeaway in the post, thank you for letting me know.

  13. Something very special about your words of wisdom here, Laurie. And the visuals are wonderful, as well. A nice blend, I must say! Maybe the words are the “being” and the pictures are the “doing.” Just a thought! On a more serious note, yes, indeed, we must do a bit of both to keep our lives in the proper perspective. Being is not always understood by our commercialized world as something important, worthy, or inherent to the human condition. However, it seems awareness is growing — thanks to posts like this, of course. To be or to do, that is the question! Curiously, it’s not until we stop “doing” so much that we truly get how important “being” is — and on so many levels. Sometimes it’s optional; sometimes the world pushes us in that direction. Either way, it’s a good thing.

    • Daisy – I’m so glad for your visit today, thank you. I like your thoughts on the words=being and the pictures=doing. I strongly resonated with your statement, “…it’s not until we stop “doing” so much that we truly get how important “being” is — and on so many levels.”

  14. Someone once said that we are called human beings, not human doings…

    We often ask children what they want to “be” when they grow up, when we’re really asking them what they want to “do” when they grow up. It also begs the question, what is wrong with asking them who they “are” at this point in time? I think it would help them to grow up to live more in the moment instead of forever focusing on the future…

  15. Balance, so simple yet we struggle with it from birth to death. I loved your response to your client Laurie. Truly to find center we must move (gracefully) between the two worlds of active and passive . The photo is awesome too by the way!!

    • Alison – I appreciate the way you set apart the word “gracefully.” Without that vital element we could feel like we’re on a wild teeter-totter ride–tossed up in the air one moment, then hitting the ground the next.

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