All of the great spiritual teachings of the world can be understood to fall on one or the other side of a great scale, which we call the Two Darshana. In Sanskrit, “Darshana” means perspective, or view. One side of the scale – - one view – - is the doing side, and one side is the being side. This means any teaching can be understood based on its tendency to emphasize the ultimate value of being, or the practical value of doing, or both to some extent.



The being side of the scale is the side that traces the implications of non-separateness and wholeness – - the fact that all things depend upon all other things for existence – - to their absolute end. From the perspective of the being side, we are all expressions of the totality, which itself is always complete and whole. As such, we are always already complete and whole, and like the totality, we have never not been complete and whole. Because the being side exalts the primordial “is-ness” of things, it weakens the power of our common concepts of personal doing, and even relegates them to the status of neurosis when they are discovered to proceed from tacit assumptions about separateness, incompleteness, and the illusory power of the ego sense.

The being side of the Two Darshana can be heard in the Psalms’ famous injunction, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10), and in the Tao Te Ching’s timeless insistence that “one can enter Tao only through non-doing.” It teaches a humility based in our own innate perfection, and a deep sense of acceptance and trust in the way that reality spontaneously unfolds in each moment.



The doing side of the two darshana views the human being as existing in a state of incomplete potential, like an un-sprouted seed. A seed has all of the basic structures necessary for growth, but it needs fortune and active cultivation to reach maturity and the full expression of its potential. The doing side is about practice. It outlines the techniques that comprise the path students enjoin once the desire to break free from mechanicalness is sufficiently galvanized, and an authentic school is found to guide their work. The teaching of doing is, for instance, heard in the teachings of Jesus when He says, “Do not lie, and do not do what you hate” (Thomas, 6); and again in the teachings about the necessity of controlling the senses and desire in the Bhagavad Gita: “therefore, restraining the senses first, O Arjuna, kill this evil demon [desire] which destroys knowledge and discrimination.” (III:41 italics added.)

Doing teaches the absolute necessity of right effort, personal integrity and responsibility, discipline and vigilance, meditation on actions and their consequences, and transparent communication in authentic relationship with the environment and one’s fellows.


Being and doing are thus the dual poles in the body of a dialectical interaction, which manifests as the transformational process. Based on the necessities conveyed by birth, and the type of learning environment in which we are reared, we tend to spend most of our time evaluating reality from one side of the scale or the other. But both sides are of absolute importance, because each identifies an aspect of the mysterious truth of being human: we are always already connected to the totality, and as such, nothing we can “do” can destroy that, or improve upon it in any sense. At the same time, we must take full responsibility for our own actions, releasing once and for all the tendency to blame others for our situation, and make effort to understand and relate transparently – - – even if that entails profound personal suffering.

In all dialectical interaction, where two apparent opposites interact and transform, there is a third force, which can be understood as the “place” where transformation unfolds and something new is produced. We understand this force to be an embodied disposition in which the human being occasionally discovers herself to naturally be. We refer to it in two ways: as self-remembering – - ala G. Gurdjieff and his students – - and also as the state of surrender. Remembering one's self is the force that composes the neutralizing space in which being and doing can retain their intrinsic value as they come together, begin to heat up in that interaction, and ignite. Without the third force, without surrender, the poles of the two darshana repel one another and nothing new is created. Remembering one’s self is the cornerstone of what we teach: it reveals the ubiquity of our mechanicalness; it organizes and clarifies the actions that form the path leading away from that mechanicalness; and, it is the embodiment of the final state of realization when, with the help of Grace, our work is finished. 

Copyright material, Matthew and Holly Krepps, Circle Yoga Shala