“In Latin there is a dictum: agere sequitur esse— to do follows to be; action follows being. It is tremendously beautiful. Don’t try to change your action– try to find out your being, and action will follow. The action is secondary; being is primary. Action is something that you do; being is something that you are. Action comes out of you, but action is just a fragment. Even if all of your actions are collected together they will not be equal to your being because all actions collected together will be your past. What about your future? Your being contains your past, your future, your present; your being contains your eternity. Your actions, even if all collected, will just be of the past. Past is limited, future is unlimited. That which has happened is limited; it can be defined, it has already happened. That which has not happened is unlimited, undefinable. Your being contains eternity, your actions contain only your past.
So it is possible that a man who has never been a sinner up to this moment can become a saint the next. Never judge a man by his actions, judge a man by his being. Sinners have become saints and saints have fallen and become sinners. Each saint has a past and each sinner has a future.
Never judge a man by his actions. But there is no other way, because you have not known even your own being–how can you see the being of others? Once you know your own being you will learn the language, you will know the clue of how to look into another’s being. You can see into others only to the extent that you can see into yourself. If you have seen yourself through and through, you become capable of seeing into others through and through” (p220)
This passage resonated with me, because it is something that J and I frequently find disagreement over. He has a really difficult time finding stability in our relationship and trusting that it will continue to grow and change, that it is dynamic, when my past behavior has at times been contrary to the kind of relationship he wants to create. I have total faith in myself that I am a dynamic individual and that the person I will be in a year will be different than who I am now. I have confidence that the commitment I have to myself and to our relationship dictates my intentions and future behavior, even though I know at the same time I will never be perfect. It has been really challenging at times for me to demonstrate this idea to J, and I feel like this idea creates recurring strife. My hope is that we can both continue to have dynamic experiences that show that both of us have the capacity and ability to change, and a commitment to working together.
[Edit, 12/26: J read this post. He pointed out that there was much in this passage that did resonate with him, and that I glossed over those points. He was a bit hurt that I thought that he would be so against this passage. He really liked the following lines: “Don’t try to change your action– try to find out your being, and action will follow. The action is secondary; being is primary.” and “Never judge a man by his actions. But there is no other way, because you have not known even your own being–how can you see the being of others?” Thank you J for having a positive conversation with me about this and being willing to engage on this topic with me!! xoxo)
“Many times I say learn the art of love, but what I really mean is: Learn the art of removing all that hinders love. It is a negative process. It is like digging a well: You go on removing many layers of earth, stones, rocks, and then suddenly there is water. The water was always there; it was an undercurrent. Now you have removed all the barriers, the water is available. So is love: Love is the undercurrent of your being. It is already flowing, but there are many rocks, many layers of earth to be removed.
That’s what I mean when I say learn the art of love. It is really not learning love but unlearning the ways of unlove” (p81)
I really like this one. Unlearning the ways of unlove. That phrase feels pretty accurate for me in describing the kind of work I am doing. It takes a lot of introspection and capacity to feel pain to break through to the more relaxed, peaceful, and contented feelings. But I feel like every day I glimpse more and more into the self I want to totally be, and that is lovely.