By Michael Scott
This book, comprising seventeen essays, is about the self, the entrenched idea in Western cultures, its obstruction of the maturing process from ‘doing’ to ‘being’, and the confusion it causes in the different states of being that constitute true awareness.
The first five essays reach the conclusion that the self is not a simple, unitary and permanent entity but is more like a sea of shifting currents and waves. There also seem to be three different, though overlapping, states of self-ness, first, that which we share with all other creatures; second an imaginative process in which humans add to basic nature and third, a process or transpersonal state beyond the basic and imaginative self-processes. The sixth to twelfth essays explore the contrast between doing and being, with the additional consideration that much of self-activity belongs to doing rather than being. It is not suggested that doing should cease but that greater attention should be devoted to the quality of one’s being, especially in areas of grief, grace, faith, love, death, time-anxiety, beauty and truth.
The remaining essays examine ideas from many sources, such as the Tao, Zen Buddhism, Castaneda’s novels, and sundry outstanding people from the last three thousand years. The book ends with the vexed questions of freedom and meaninglessness and the importance of taking on the burden of personal freedom without support from an unknown entity.