Archive for April, 2010

Finishing presence

April 30, 2010

Finishing presence feels somewhat like I imagine forgiveness feels like: the circumstances, the person, the situation, or the event no longer stirs evocative emotions in me. I feel neither this way nor that way. I am finished.

I struggle with the word “forgive” because it implies that someone or something has wronged me in some way. As a child, I was taught that the concept of “forgiveness” meant people could do anything they wanted and as long as they were sorry, God would forgive them. It did not necessarily mean that the person had to stop that behavior.

As an adult, I have to grow into a new concept and definition of forgiveness. Finishing is as close as I can get right now. To let myself off of the hook and quit feeling bad over life long past, I need to be finished and let it go. It does not mean I forget. Finishing means I remember from a new perspective.

From this distance, I can look at events that occurred in my childhood and know that I felt bad. I can even recreate the bad feelings over something that might have happened forty years ago. I am still that child feeling awful about something someone else did. I might even feel bad over something that I did. I am not finished. To be finished requires some creative work. A mindful meditative journey with that child works well for me. From my adult perspective, I can point out and create new stories about the event. As I tell myself (the child) several different stories about the event, why it occurred, what was going on with me and other people, I come to realize that I feel bad because I’ve attached meaning to the event. The meaning almost always is some derivative that I did something wrong, that I was a bad person, that I should have done something else, I should have known better, I should have (fill in the blank). I continue to suffer because I want life to be different than what it was or how it is right now.

This internal work moves at its own pace. The child in me signals readiness when the memory surfaces and I become that child again, feeling bad over things long past. My eternal presence urges me to let it go . . . not to forget the incident, but rather, to let go of carrying the emotional weight. If I stay present, being with the child in the moment, life will bring me all sorts of ways to let go: reading a sentence, drawing a picture, writing a memoir, a physical movement, witnessing life unfolding. It does not matter. There is not any one specific way except for me to trust myself, know that I am eternal, and make the choice to live joyfully.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

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Ending presence

April 28, 2010

Ending presence is being with the total irreversibility of life and knowing that is the way our existence is ruled . . . for now (I can’t speak to any other reality except this one.)

It is the closure of an experience that caught my attention today. Even though each moment of our lives is a different experience than the moment before, there are consistencies that we grow to depend on like home, family, and work.

A home that once was mine became the home of others today. While I feel this enormous element of relief, it is tinged with regret and sadness. Attached to that home were dreams, hopes, and desires that did not have a chance to unfold. My time there was interrupted by another, more important calling that has taken much of my time and energy over the past five years. That calling, so far, has failed to turn out as I imagined it should have.

And I wonder if I had stayed in that home and ignored the other calling, where would I be in this life now?

My gratitude attitude says to be thankful for what I have now and that the other calling is still a possibility, even if it is not unfolding as I think it should be.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

The presence of boundaries

April 27, 2010

Boundaries provide the structure — an outline — of existence. For any given situation and encounter, boundaries flex and bend, expand and contract, open and close. Each person has a different concept of what constitutes a boundary. The universe has constructed its own very-necessary-to-our-survival boundaries (check out the semi-permeable membranes of cells).

I absolutely cannot climb inside another person’s experience nor can they climb inside mine. I can empathize and imagine, but I cannot be in their experience. That boundary is invisibly absolute. Yet, I in the next breath I might breathe in the oxygen they just exhaled — the air we inhale has about 16% oxygen, but our bodies only need about 3% of that, so we exhale about 13%. I might inhale some of the air that was just in that person’s lungs.

Whatever behavior we witness in another, no one can know exactly what is going on inside that person in that moment. We cannot see through their eyes, know their thoughts, or perceive their reality. We can only judge by their behavior how and where to create our personal boundaries. My boundary will be made of concrete and be miles deep if someone threatens me. With those who I love and trust, my boundary is softly transparent, and I am revealed.

When I am engaged in my eternal presence, I realize that behind the behavior of any person is someone who wants to be loved and accepted no matter what superficial personality they portray. Because I cannot know their experience, I must accept that person is doing the best they can, and I must respect whatever boundary they have cloaked themselves with.

All boundaries that exist are different and require judgment, inquiry, examination, knowing which ones we can change, acceptance of those we cannot change, and (as the old Native People prayer goes) the wisdom to know the difference.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

The presence of space

April 26, 2010

I am starving for some empty space in my life . . . not physical empty space but mental and emotional empty space. Meditation creates empty space in its presence. To get to a meditative space, I need to let go of my current collection of clutter.

How I fill the space in my life is my choice. What I am physically doing or mentally preoccupied with in any moment is the result of choices that I made in previous moments. One of the benefits of memory is being able to see how the past predicts the future. If I continue to choose to fill my life space with distraction and imaginary responsibilities (i.e., taking care of others’ wants), I will find myself always too busy to make space for what I really want to be and do in my life.

My intent is to become more mindful of making choices of what I will allow to occupy space in my life. Today, I will look at each moment, savor it, be with it, and trust that by being present, I will make different choices and open up my life space.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

Warrior presence

April 25, 2010

We walk through ourselves, meeting robbers, ghosts, giants, old men, young men, wives, widows, brothers-in-love. But always meeting ourselves.  James Joyce

Self-exploration and discovery invite all sorts of people into my life. The experience is whatever I choose to label it: good, bad, frustrating, enlightening, exhilarating, boring, stimulating . . . any adjective I want. Encounters inside and outside myself always reveal and reflect who I am.

In my imagination, as I become more and more my eternal presence in my day-to-day living, other people become easier to get along with and my response to those who are a little contrary is one of benevolence and wisdom.

That is my imaginary life in the land of Supposed-To-Be.

My lesson recently has been to learn how to merge my eternal presence in all my interactions while I am clearly so very human in my responses. While playing tennis yesterday, I felt the warrior that I am bring her best to the game. I know it is a game and there is nothing really to win. Tennis is a strategy of skill, endurance, and presence. One cannot be thinking of what to make for dinner or the argument she had earlier in the day and play well. I wanted to win (and we did), but most of all, my warrior pride wanted to play her best.

In another encounter, I responded harshly to a person who intruded on my life uninvited and in a threatening manner – a very human reaction. I tried to reason with the person first, but that person insisted on being abusive, and the warrior in me said “Let’s get rid of you.”

Would someone who was truly enlightened and living as her eternal presence even worry about being threatened? Maybe. Maybe not. My human programming endures regardless and will rise to defend me and those I love with a coldly unemotional attitude.

Perhaps this is my task in this existence, my reason for being, is to learn to be myself totally and continuously connected to my eternal presence in the discomfort of a world that makes no sense to me.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

The presence of connection

April 24, 2010

Extraordinary connections are finding their way into my life. Over the past several days, friends have been writing on their blogs about similar thoughts and ideas to the point that it has become clear we are all being awakened by a shared energy. A new friend from Gaia (http://anewgaia.ning.com/) introduced me to a book Power vs. Force by David Hawkins. Reading the foreword and preface at Amazon reveals that the author discovered his eternal presence at a very young age and followed a remarkable path of healing. Of course I will buy and read the book, but today what stood out for me was the idea that we are not our personalities.

I refer to personalities as the superficial presence that we all present to the world and believe that is who we really are. The superficial personality is ego driven, inflamed with fear, and desperate for love and acceptance. The eternal presence patiently watches the personality in action and might occasionally nudge (or, in some cases, whack) us, whispering “you are more than this.”

Some people have dramatic enlightenment, brought back from the brink of self-destruction and death by some miraculous realization.

My path to enlightenment has been one of reluctance, even though I pursued it relentlessly. I kept thinking if I just adjusted my personality all of the time to all of the people and situations I would be in, then I would “get it.” Then, I would be accepted, loved, blah blah blah. My path to enlightenment and reconnecting with my eternal presence was found by pursuing the path of working very hard to become like everyone else. It was tedious, painful, and didn’t work very well.

The path where I am connected with my eternal presence is much more peaceful, lighter, less anxious. When I am connected with my eternal presence, I am eternally connected to all of you.

 ©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

The presence of progress

April 23, 2010

By its definition, progress implies movement, advancement, and growth. Movement is forward. Advancement is up. Growth is more.

Complete stillness is seemingly impossible. After all, the molecules in our bodies whir unendingly. Nature designed us to be in constant motion.

Look outside of yourself. Everything that exists rises and falls. Becomes and decays. Scientists claim we are hurtling through the universe at atomic warp speed (i.e., faster than my limited little brain can calculate). Life is in constant motion, but where is it going?

Once done, no action can be undone. This one-way rule is an absolute law. Nothing is exactly the same twice. Perfect imitation is nonexistent.

So what, then, are we progressing toward? We can never recreate what has been, even though we repeat patterns over and over and over. We exist just once as the person who we are right now. In the next instant, I will be different.

Perhaps, progress is not a destination, but a discovery.

Not knowing

April 22, 2010

Giving up the story means I need to deal with not knowing . . . accepting that I don’t know what will happen next.

There are a lot of physical predictable outcomes in life. Poking at a fire with my finger will pretty much guarantee that I will get burned. If I don’t put gas in my car, it will stop running. Every single body alive on earth right now will eventually die. No amount of story-telling will change any of these (I am still bewildered about American’s death-denying belief system and the pursuit of living here forever – do you REALLY want to?)

Anyway, I digress. We need our predictable realities. There has to be some dependable support structure around us because the outcome of everything else is a moving target.

I have a plan today of what will happen, and all of my efforts will be focused on executing the plan. The problem is I can’t guarantee that my day will unfold as I plan. I really don’t know. Better for me is to set my intent of how I want today to feel (alive, joyous, peaceful) and be willing to accept what comes my way to fulfill that intent.

A friend of mine pointed out that many people would qualify/label the feeling of not knowing as insecurity. His definition is that not knowing is the ability we have to experience a truer, or natural, state of our lives. He sent me to the Rumi poem “Zero Circle.” The poem opens with:
Be helpless, dumbfounded,
Unable to say yes or no.
Then a stretcher will come from grace to gather us up.

My interpretation is that in allowing ourselves to not know, we will find ourselves. As my time here on earth increases, I find that I know less and less, but I gain more wisdom in knowing that I don’t know. My goal has become one of discovering everything it is that I don’t know, and being willing to accept the path that takes me there.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

Superficial presence

April 21, 2010

Sometimes, I have imaginary arguments with people where I put thoughts into their heads and then I get angry with the way they are thinking and their attitudes. This usually happens right after someone has behaved in ways that I don’t like. I tell myself a story like: “he did that because he is self-centered, never thinks of anyone else, is lazy, thinks that he can just do what he wants no matter how it affects anyone else  . . .” and on and on and on until I am righteously and superiorly justifiably angry because we all know that I am perfect and never do anything that negatively impacts another. I am always thinking about others. I am all about other people. At least that’s my side of the story.

If you have been following these blogs, you know that my true motivation behind always thinking of others is that I have been programmed to do that so that I can get something from them.

When I confront people with my suspicions/accusations about how they are in the world, I realize that most of the times . . . well, okay, ALL the time they are unconscious and unaware of my interpretation of them and their behavior. They really had no clue. Imagine that.

People might change their behavior and they might not. I have no control over that. The only thing I can do is be in charge of how I respond to their behavior and who they are. I can either create a story in my head about them based upon their superficial behavior or I can let go of the story and bring my true presence to the moment.

If I only bring my superficial personality to the party, the only guests who will show up are the superficial personalities in others. There is an eternal presence in others—a presence who came here to unfold and become just as I did. If I let go of the story and my own superficial perfection, the silence opens up a space to connect with another’s true presence.

I wonder who I will find.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

The disappearing outcome

April 20, 2010

Sometimes, I get a little too attached to the Land of Supposed To Be.

Okay, not just sometimes . . . a lot of the time.

Through the stories I tell myself about what reality is supposed to look like, I create a story about outcomes – how life is supposed to be. And I really cannot be blamed for having this attachment. After all, I was programmed from birth to have expectations. It doesn’t help that nature does what it is supposed to do: water does what water is supposed to do, animal behavior is fairly predictable, trees and grass and flowers all respect their cycles of growth and dormancy. There is a certain stability and logic to our environment that allows humans to depend on specific outcomes.

Nature also limits the predictability of human life. I can depend on certain outcomes in my life given the conditions of any environment. It suddenly makes sense to me why some people abandon civilization and go off to live alone in a backwoods cabin. Life becomes a more known quantity when I have removed variables I cannot control or predict (i.e., other people).

Lately, though, I have been letting go of the need to have a specific outcome to anything. I have become more conscious and aware of taking care of the moments in my life and my internal work has been to trust my intent to bring my presence to life. I cannot predict or control the outcome of being truly present and alive. I only know that I must honor that this path called to me and I chose to follow it. I don’t want to know how it ends or to try to imagine where it might take me.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass