This might be obvious for some, but for me this has been a revelation. How we are in our live, on a moment to moment basis is the essential thing. This is who we really are. What we do in our life is less important that how we are.

monks taking a break from practice at the Maha Bodhi temple in India

monks taking a break from practice at the Maha Bodhi temple in India

An example of what I mean: I am an environmental activist doing good work in the world, but on a day to day basis we are hard on ourselves and treat others with disrespect, frustration and sometimes anger. Because we are so focused on protecting the environment and see that as the most important thing, eventually we burn out or become jaded. The alternative is to do environmental conservation work and at the same time realize that how we are matters, we are more relaxed, caring, gentle, and ironically because of our authentic approach we might even be more effective, but that is not the point.

At the end of our life, we are a cumulative product of how we have been, not what we did. What we did is simply a thought, a memory, whereas how we have been is the moment to moment accumulation of habitual tendencies—or karma—that creates who we are in this present moment.

I believe what we do is still important, I’m not advocating being a compassionate bank robber. I’m simply noticing the need for moving away from doing towards being.