The being is a dynamic and positive pivotal centre, located in the inner depths of the person. It makes up the nucleus of one’s personality. In the PRH explanatory system, the being is considered to be the principal pivotal centre of the person as seen from the perspective of one’s growth. There are four major reasons for this:
- “it is the bedrock of the entire personality”12, its “foundation”;
- “it is inhabited by a dynamism of life” 13 by a fundamental aspiration to exist, it is there that one finds the deep motivating forces for all growth;
- the other pivotal centres of the person are subordinated to the being and at the service of its fulfilment. In fact, actions prompted by the needs of those other pivotal centres must be in harmony with the being if they are to contribute to the growth of the overall person;
- this is the level at which one can experience the most fundamental joys of existence, whereas the satisfactions and pleasures liked to the functioning of the other pivotal centres are not as intense, durable, fulfilling or stimulating. In other words, “it is the most important place”14 for the personalization, the growth and therefore the happiness of human beings.
This notion of the being as a central and fundamentally positive reality of the person can be found in many anthropologies. The soul for Christians, the hara for people of the Far East, the inner-most self for Carl Rogers, the being for Abraham Maslow, Graf Durkheim, Erich Fromm, etc. are among the approaches that present analogies with this reality observed at PRH.
The components of the being
The identity of persons, their “essential course of action” and their essential bonds all reside at this “bedrock” level of the personality. Openness to a Transcendency also lies at this level. Let us look at these four concepts:
The being is the place where the identity of the person lies
This identity is comprised of potentialities particular to the individual, that is to say the capabilities, qualities and gifts of each one. “There is where we find the root of all that is positive within ourselves: our qualities of heart, of action, of the intellect, etc .” 15 . These qualities taken together make up the riches of being of the person.
Examples of capabilities specific to the identity of the person:
- manual abilities (dexterity, do-it-yourself gifts …);
- intellectual capacities (capacity for abstraction, analysis, synthesis, concentration, imagination, comprehension, discernment, memory, observation…);
- relational and affective capacities (capacity for openness altruism, gratuitous love, kindness, communication, tenderness, generosity, forgiveness, tolerance, trust…);
- capacities for action (capacity for taking up a task, organizing, managing, bringing a task to fruition, for dynamism, for will, for perseverance…);
- artistic capabilities;
- physical capabilities (skill, endurance, strength…);
- aptitude for happiness, capacity for wonder, joy, faith in life, sensitivity to beauty…);
- capacity for truth, acceptance of reality…;
- capacities for sensibility, for intuition…;
A person’s identity is also composed of boundaries, that is to say limitations which are proper to each positive aspect (not to be confused with inhibitions, blockages or simple immaturity, which curb or even arrest the actualization of the positive). To become aware of these boundaries, one must exercise one’s gifts as much as possible. Certain signs then announce the threshold of the limitations of the being. These would include an abnormal tension in acting, a disproportion between the effort expended and the results obtained, a sensation of not being able to be more or do more …
Examples of constituent limitations :
- intellectual limitations (limitations in the comprehension of some phenomena, limitations in the ability to memorize, to concentrate, limitations in the perception of details…);
- artistic limitations…;
- limitations in the ability to act (limitations in rapid execution, limitations in dynamism, patience, perseverance, audacity…);
- relational limitations (limitations in accepting the presence of others, limitations in the capacity for conviviality …);
What differentiates human beings among themselves and specifies the identity of each individual are hierarchy, inner order and the prominence of riches of being, as well as the threshold of constituent limitations. Each person has positive aspects which are characterized by their potential, intensity, limitations and form of expression. On the other hand, one could say that all the essential potentialities of the human species can be found in every person (for example, freedom, love, truth …).
Note: How can one prove that negative aspects are not part of the identity of the person when most people attribute them to their deep nature? There are certainly many explanations for this. Negative feedback and exaggerated expectations coming from one’s surroundings, added to the often repetitive and habitual nature of certain faults or dysfunctions, in all likelihood have induced many people to identify in this way with their negative aspects. “I am lazy, I am clumsy …”, the person says, convinced that it could not be otherwise. Some cultures have also been subjected to the influence of a negative analysis of behavioural disharmonies shows that they don not originate from what is most profound in human beings. Humans are characterized by the fundamental aspiration to be enhanced and the sensation of being truly one’s self. No person in their right mind aspires to become more and more clumsy or lazy, or feels that they are becoming more and more themselves by living that which they call their clumsiness or laziness.
The being is the locus of the person’s “essential course of action”
Innately, all individuals have an identity and an “essential course of action” inscribed in their being which they instinctively seek to actualize. The expression “essential course of action” means that for which individuals feel they are made, their journey, their vocation, the niche of activity corresponding to what they are in their inner depths. In fact, even though people have various aptitudes, not all activities exert the same attraction for them or generate the same enthusiasm. People aspire to a specific course of action, where their time and effort can be put into what is most important to them.
Examples of “essential courses of action”: include educating children, creating (artistic creations, crafts …), researching (scientific research …), teaching, administrating, cultivating, promoting exchanges (commercial, intellectual …), manufacturing, helping, curing, directing, serving the community (defending it, organizing it, managing it …) etc.
People become aware of this course of action over time. Once a variety of efforts has been tried, people are gradually drawn to a general line of activity that brings out the best of themselves. As the being emerges and more experience is gained, this “essential course of action” defines itself more precisely. The potentialities of being are gradually directed toward the actualization of this vocation.
Four criteria can be used to identify the direction of one’s “essential course of action”:
- a sensation of existing, of being oneself, of being more conscious of one’s identity, a sensation of unity between the doing and the being;
- a sensation of giving one’s full measure, of living fully without being stifled, of contributing to society;
- a sensation of being profoundly happy, without any after-taste of dissatisfaction;
- a sensation that one’s life is meaningful.
As people discover that for which they are made, they commit to it totally, to the point of reorganizing their life and commitments according to that vocation. It then becomes a new phase in their advancement, marked by the presence of a powerful inner strength, abundant creativity, maximum efficiency, and a focus on the essentials of the contribution they can make to society.
Note : One can question whether this new phase, which PRH calls “mission of being”, is inscribed in the genetic potential of every individual:
“We observe that very few persons actually reach the phase we call a mission of being. Why?
- Is it because of a growth journey that has not gone far enough?
- Or is it the fact that the essential course of action inscribed in their genetic makeup does not include this “inner rocket” that would thrust them forward once its fire was lit?
We do not have an answer to that question. Of course, one can believe that in all human beings the essential course of action is destined to open up on a “mission of being”. The hypothesis is enticing. It would allow us to say that all human beings have a mission of being. But the actual state of our observations does not allow us to believe that with certitude” .
The being is the locus of the essential bonds of a person
Two dimensions can be distinguished in the internal structure of the being:
- a strictly personal dimension, made up of the identity of the person and the “essential course of action”. This is the nucleus of the personality. There, each individual has the feeling of being alone.
– a community dimension, as an “ inhabited space” where people feel profoundly bonded to others in the realization of their “essential course of action”. It is the locus of one’s essential bonds, bonds of being or bonds of mission. There, people feel bound together, as by constitution, in a more or less extensive social grouping having the same essential values and aiming at social progress. Such groupings extend from the couple, to the family to foundations.
“The bonds of being are rooted in similarity and complementarity at the level of the essential course of action”. They are thus distinguishable from other types of bonds which proceed from sentient, intellectual and affective affinities. Bonds of being can even be distinguished from affinities of being, which are due to common aspects at the level of the being, without, for all that, engaging the persons in a common essential course of action. Essential bonds are characterized by their depth, their durability, their variations in intensity in different persons and their source of energy and efficiency in the realization of the “essential course of action”. They can exist independently from sentient affinities. They provide a sensation of inner breadth and depth of unity.
More generally, this “community dimension of the being” moves people away from self-centredness and opens them to others and to society. Their perception of the collective dimension is awakened and develops. Individual responsibility for the common good comes to life in concrete commitments, often through the “essential course of action”. Thus one can affirm that the being is not egocentric but, on the contrary, contains a powerful potential for altruism.
The being is the locus of openness to a Transcendency
Other than the personal and community dimensions cited previously, the being has a capacity for openness to a “Transcendency”. Everyone can experience in their own intimate selves the presence of realities which are of the same nature as their being, but are also experienced as infinite, absolute and permanent realities, non-reducible to what the persons are, to what they do, nor to what is in their consciousness. This can be said of Truth, Love, Life, Freedom, Justice, the Dignity of the person, Wisdom, Beauty, etc., assuming that these realities are perceived in the depths of oneself under the form of sensations, not as abstract ideas or ideals. People, for instance, who devote themselves to the cause of justice or who live an interior relationship with their God, experience this contact with reality that is beyond them while at the same time remaining alive and acting within them.
People who have a conscious relationship to these realities which transcend them are transformed. It is as though they were attracted, drawn, expanded and brought to their ultimate humanization by the Absolute or the Perfection of these realities. The relationship to a Transcendency contains an astonishing potential when one thinks of all those people who devote their lives to this Transcendency which attracts them and calls them (the case of monks or people engaged in humanitarian causes, for instance), or of all those who freely prefer to give up their lives rather than deny that which constitutes the Essential of their existence (the case of those who die so that Liberty, Justice, their faith in God or human Dignity may be respected …).
It is through contact with this recognized and identified Transcendency that human beings discover the deep meaning of their existence and the strength to advance toward their fulfilment. Personality development, in the fullness to which individuals can reach, is not realized solely through the harmonization of their ways of functioning, nor only through efforts of the will. It requires an openness to that which transcends them (available to all human beings), and eventually to a relationship with that Transcendency (assuming that one experiences it, recognizes it and lives it as the Source of life and development). This relationship keeps the person in a constant drive toward an enhanced being.
This explains why, in PRH psycho-pedagogy, this dimension of openness and relationship to a Transcendency at the level of the being is seen to be very important for personal growth. The PRH approach thus diverges from other anthropologies, where the notion of Transcendency is understood differently. Some see it as a metaphysical abstraction, others as an unconscious projection of ideals, or a form of sublimation, or again as an answer that human beings give themselves to escape from their existential anguish, etc. Even though some people live their lives under different conceptions, a thorough analysis of the human lived experience makes it possible to affirm the primary role of openness to a Transcendency in the person’s growth journey.
(Persons and their growth p.55-62).