Posts Tagged ‘being authentic’

Be Do Have

January 8, 2008
By David Wolf

Satvatove Institute

I conduct Life Transformation Skills seminars. These seminars provide an environment for spiritually-based personal development. During one part of the training we ask the participants what are some tangible, material things for which people strive. Typically the resulting list looks something like this: cars, computers, a big house, attractive spouse, children, job, jewelry and vacation time. Then we ask why people endeavor for such things. The resulting list includes experiences such as happiness, security, power, intimacy, fulfillment, balance, love, vitality, freedom, strength, courage, joy and affection.

There Is No Intrinsic Connection Between The Things We Strive For And Our Experience

Next, by observing the two lists we consider whether there are persons who possess a large house, a big car and a prestigious job, but who do not experience much joy, power or fulfillment in their lives. Certainly there are. And we consider whether there are persons who experience an abundance of happiness, intimacy and vitality in their lives, although they don’t have the items on the other list. Clearly, such persons exist. The conclusion is that there is no intrinsic connection between the two lists. Although they sometimes overlap, there is no inherent causal link.


With reference to the three gunas, let’s look at the lack of innate correlation between the “things” column and the “experience” column. Tamas is a mode of inertia, where our consciousness clings to a paradigm that may be called Have-Do-Be. In this paradigm we think, “If I could just have $100,000 in the bank, a nicer car, a job with paid vacation…then I could do what I want to do, and then I would be happy, satisfied, appreciated, vibrant…” “If I could just have a nicer boss, then I would be content and peaceful.” In this mindset, our experience is dependent on having. The saying, “What profits a man if he gains the whole world yet loses his soul?” indicates the difficulty with this attitude.


Rajas is the mode of activity, where we adhere to the framework of Do-Have-Be. In this way of thinking we consider that if I could just do what I want to do, then I’ll have what I want, and then I would be free, strong, giving and vital. Our consciousness starts from the point of activity, and experience is contingent upon that.


Sattva guna corresponds with enlightenment. Sattvic consciousness is the natural state of the authentic self. Steady in sattva we live in the paradigm of Be-Do-Have. Fixed in this way of being, experiencing strength, beauty, security, intimacy, warmth, freedom, etc., is not dependent on doing or having. I don’t need to do or have anything to experience satisfaction, aliveness, courage, clarity, etc., because these qualities are who I am, they are my essential nature. It’s not that, in a Be-Do-Have paradigm, there isn’t doing or having. Rather, our doing and having assume full potency, compared with tamasic or rajasic perspectives, because what we do and have flow naturally from our being. They are not separate endeavors. To experience joy, closeness, radiance, and all other qualities of our self is not dependent on what we do or have. In Be-Do-Have, we naturally do things that bold, enlivened, successful people do, because our nature is bold, enlivened and successful. And naturally we’ll have things that powerful, confident, and trusting people have, such as abundance, rewarding activity and fulfilling relationships.

Personal Development Entails Uncovering Qualities of Our Self

Bhagavad-gita, presenting the essence of Vedic teachings, delineates a Be-Do-Have approach to life. In that book Sri Krsna encourages Arjuna to “Be free from dualities…be without anxiety…and be established in the self.” The process of personal development entails uncovering qualities of our self, our being, that have been covered, and fully manifesting them in our lives.

With one coaching client with whom I was working we specifically focused on him being patient and peaceful, qualities that were missing in his life, and which he wanted to cultivate. With earnest he connected with the patience and calm that are inherent to his being. During our next coaching session he described, with surprise, that his supervisor asked him to accept a position with increased responsibility, involving training others. She particularly mentioned that she offered this because of his patience and ability to be calm in stressful situations. Being patient and peaceful naturally resulted in acting in ways that patient and peaceful act, in this instance a more rewarding career activity, and having things that patient and peaceful people have, in this example an increased income. Be-Do-Have.


Be A Distinction

December 20, 2007

by David Wolf, Ph.D.

Being authentic is a key for vibrant living. For most of us, consistent authenticity involves conscious, courageous effort. It’s a challenge to recognize our deceptions and pretenses, and differentiate them from actual self-discovery. Each moment our integrity is connected with willingness to be authentic. Authenticity vitalizes our immediate experience, and also enriches the service legacy we create for others.

The habit of authenticity makes us a distinction in the world, a human being willing to be uniquely ourselves. This isn’t about reactively differentiating ourselves, which is the flipside of following the crowd, but rather full and genuine expression of our spirit. This requires great intention, as social pressures tend towards conformity and conditioned behavior at the expense of honest realization of self.

Intention itself is a spiritually-based principle of personal growth. A fundamental characteristic of intention is clarity- to be completely clear on who we want to be, what we want to experience, and the actions and results that flow from that. In addition to clarity, fully believing that our intention is possible is also essential. A third element is readiness to accept what we say we want for our lives. We can ask ourselves to what extent are we actually prepared to receive the abundance and success of our intention manifesting. This could lead to productively addressing self-defeating beliefs connected with, for example, a sense of unworthiness. The totality of these elements- clarity, belief and acceptance- constitutes clear intention. Clear intention is firm, yet flexible to the indications and will of the divine. Lacking clear intention we are likely to live a life with a script written by others. Living from clear intention we are truly the authors of our life.

Such a life of distinction represents a standard to which others may aspire. Of course, endeavoring for authenticity for the purpose of being recognized as an inspiration for others could well be another strategy for the ego to seek approval. Still, we can appreciate that an effect of an authentic life is that it is inherently a service to others. In fact, we may be most inspiring to those who struggle with the same challenges we handled in our journey. For example, if our path to genuineness is characterized by transforming the needy, helpless script to an assertion of power, confidence and intelligence, then our willingness to be authentic is especially poignant for people playing out a similar script. Similarly, if our transformation is marked by creative expression where formerly there was dull routine, or vulnerability that was covered by bravado, or adventurous risk-taking in place of playing not to lose, we serve as a model for others immersed in those same life-draining, surviving instead of thriving, conversations.

In the Satvatove environment we speak about assertiveness. Assertiveness is founded in authenticity. We need to know who we are and be connected with our core in order to know who or what it is we are asserting. Otherwise, in the name of assertiveness we may be into yet another game.

In a life of distinction we assert and communicate from our being. Otherwise, we get caught up in doing and having, disconnected from being, searching externally for experiences such as satisfaction, power and beauty, that are inherent to our nature. We are human beings, not human doings. Being a distinction is not only personally fulfilling- it is also, from my perspective, an integral aspect of our responsibility as human beings.