Archive for July, 2010

Spiritual Warrior

July 31, 2010

My friend, Jeff (the reluctant bloger), responded to one of my blogs using the term “spiritual warrior.” In my quests to discover the divine truth of me and my life, I often feel that I am battling to discover, uncover, and recover.

Jeff said “it takes powerful courage to walk the way of the spiritual warrior.” My courage comes from my innate gravitation towards happiness. I want to be happy. I want to feel love. I remember those gravitational moments in my early years when I sought to be happy and some misunderstanding soul slapped me down. And because I was small and dependent upon them, I stayed down. I think it does take courage to get up and be willing to tackle the monsters again.

To read more about my monsters, go to “real monsters don’t wear costumes” under my About section.

I am fighting my programming, my natural instinct to survive, my need to belong and fit in with others. My warrior fights for my need to evolve and become while my survivor says “yes, but let’s fit in with the rest of the world at some level. We need them.”

I let my outside circumstances and other people determine who I became and I was a very unhappy soul. No matter what mental or emotional acrobatics I performed, the world was still not satisfied and continued its dysfunction. I could not become any more dysfunctional to accommodate it. To do so would have meant a total mental and emotional breakdown. I would have ceased to exist.

If I wanted to survive, my only option was to begin this journey. I began to slay the demons I had created for myself and who I had come to depend upon for survival. They worked in my childhood, kept the insanity of living in check, so letting go of them was often painful and distressing. After all, how would I survive without them? Can I find my spiritual enlightenment and awakening in this world? Must I slay foes with my spiritual sword or am I to use it to carve my path through thickets of lies to reveal my truth?

Illusions that once secured my sanity continue to be in my way. Beliefs that I once depended upon to make decisions sway like boulders on the precipice of avalanche. How can I create the security I need to challenge these systems? Do I need a specific set of circumstances to evolve? Do I have to create the ideal set of circumstances to become enlightened? Can I use any moment to become?

It helps to have a plan – a new set of ideas, beliefs, and ways of being that I desire. I can even try them on for size and practice before I let go of the old beliefs and ways of being. I can look for ways of being outside of me that resonate with my true presence and find that talent already hidden within myself. I just have not brought that monster out to play.

I know a few people who are genuinely, innately nice. They are kind and generous with their way of being in the world. They seem broadly happy and satisfied, even when they are overcoming obstacles on their way to becoming happier. They have an attitude that I can only describe as “inquiring” when someone is angry, rude, or hostile. I have felt this way of being calling me for a long time now.

All people who come on my path are my teachers – the “good” ones along with the “bad” ones. If I recognize them and label them, then I know I am them, too. A good warrior also knows when to lay down the sword.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

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disconnected presence

July 29, 2010

I always forget how electrically connected I am until the power goes out. A little tornado swept through the air here in Maryland this past Sunday. I don’t think it ever touched the ground, but the brute force wind it brought snapped 50-foot trees in half and left power lines thrashing on the ground.

In my house, everything went dark.

And so did about 90 percent of my connection with the world.

Although I could remain connected with the people I live with, for three days, I lost the ability to connect with my virtual community. I could not e-mail anyone, blog anywhere, or explore anything. While I journal the old-fashioned way (i.e., actual writing on paper), I even use my virtual ability to connect with myself using my laptop to craft my stories, essays, and blogs. All of that writing was suspended, left dangling in silent expectation. I felt very disconnected from it and did not even have draft copies printed out to edit.

During daylight hours, I got to go to work. Nothing had changed there. They had electricity. They had air conditioning and showers with hot water. They had the Internet. While my personal online outings had to be limited, I had the ability to be virtually connected again. It is summer time, too, and getting out to be with people was easy. I could go to the library or Starbucks to get online if I wanted to. Hotels are abundant and I could always get a nice air-conditioned room with complimentary Internet connection.

It was nice to have these options. During the infamous blizzard this past February, the electricity was on the blitz for two days and driving anywhere was impossible for about a week.

Here is the best thing I learned about that: you really have to love the company you are with – even if it just yourself.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

the presence of free will

July 24, 2010

On my internal quest to reconcile the God of my childhood with the reality of who I am, I struggle with the all-encompassing definitions of God.

In the July 2010 issue of Science of Mind, the 22nd daily guide, the quotes and text define God as humans being God. A quote from Emma Curtis Hopkins says “No word can express your understanding of God. You are It.” I can interpret this two ways. First, “It” is me. In other words, I am God. A second interpretation is that I am my understanding of God. My question is: If this is true, is it true for all humans? Even the ones who commit atrocities against the earth and their fellow creatures? Are they God, too? Or, are they expressing their understanding of God? Our entire history up to the present moment is full of examples of people behaving stupidly, disregarding other’s beliefs, disrespecting boundaries, and preying upon the weak and helpless to express their God or their understanding of God.

A second quote says “The only God man knows is the God of his own Inner Life; he can know no other.” This quote indicates that God is a manifestation of our own creation. You are reading this and you know what God means to you. What you might be thinking is that I don’t know what God means to me. I suggest that you suspend that thought for a moment and consider that I am God struggling to define my presence and define myself through this human being everyone calls Barbara.

As a human, I have my human conditioning, limits, beliefs, and free will. I choose whether or not I believe in the existence of God. I choose whether or not to become more conscious and aware. I even choose how God is expressed through me. In spite of my belief that we are all God (the One, Spirit, Divine), I don’t believe that I am a marionette dancing to the pull of strings upon my body and soul. When I am in touch with my own eternal spirit, my true presence who ventured into human existence, the touch of God is inherent in my being. In those moments, God is no longer struggling to define his/her/my/itself. And it is not because I discovered who God is or how God behaves. It is because eternity’s wisdom becomes one with my human existence and my feelings, thoughts, choices, and actions come from the all-knowing, the all-understanding. This knowledge and understanding are not whirls of timeless memories of all that has ever existed. Rather, they are intentions and ways of being that I have evolved in my eternal presence.

Because I came from God, because I exist within God even with my free will, all that I express is God. The only decision I need to make from moment to moment is how I want the God who is me to live and be seen.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

The Presence of God

July 22, 2010

No, it’s not the second coming and not to be confused with a second helping .

I am talking about the presence of God in my life, in my being, in my beliefs, in my thoughts, in my feelings . . . you get the picture. What is God to me?

The third step in Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step program is: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

I take the liberty of substituting “Him” with “it” or “Her” or “the concept” or “that guy” or “the Oneness” or “Spirit” or “the Creator” or “the Divine” or “(you fill it in).”

When I went through the class at Loyola on substance abuse and addictive behavior, this particular step caught my attention because I am not sure that I have completely let go of the God defined for me through the Catholic church in my youth. And I am not real keen on that God. He is not a nice person. Adults used to hold God over my head like a sword threatening to chop it off to make me behave like they wanted me to. God was mean and liked to smite people. There were all these commandments to follow. Sunday mass was as boring and tedious as watching knitting on television.

I’m not likely to turn my life over to the care of someone like that.

But I believe that I belong to and within a greater, larger, all-encompassing power. I have not fully defined my relationship with that power or named it “God.” I don’t know who or what “God” is.

My true presence knows but is currently silent on the subject. I always take this as a signal that I need to do some inner exploring. For my presence, whatever God is just is. There is no need to define. For the squirrely human that I am, definition is everything.

Hmmm . . . I think it might be time to write a book. Books can take a long time to write, so I need to get started right away.

You never know when that second coming is . . . well, coming.

And just in case it happens tonight, I am going to have a second helping of ice cream.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

the presence of buttons

July 21, 2010

No, I am not going to talk about clothing. I am talking about those invisible emotional triggers many of us have that are intrinsic to our natures.

The problem with these particular buttons is that we know we have them, but often have difficulty finding them without help. Fortunately, there are certain people and events that happen by and push them all the time to help us out. And we think “There it is!” generally the second before we react to the person or the event in unfavorable terms.

I don’t ever remember thanking anyone or blessing any event that has pushed my buttons.

But lately I’ve begun to think that perhaps I should. After all, they are just bringing me to my own attention, because the button is not about the person or what happened. The button is all about me. Me me me me me.

I would like to learn to react less and respond more. There is a very blurry boundary between the meaning of reacting and responding. Me, the slightly-battered-by-life human that I am, tends to react while my true presence, who lives, breathes, and whispers wisdom, prefers to respond.

The dictionary uses each word to define the other. Reacting means “to respond to a stimulus in a particular manner” and “to act in a reverse direction or manner” or “to act in opposition.” There is an emotional and physical component to the definition of reacting. Responding means to “reply or answer in words,” but it is also described as meaning “to exhibit some action or effect . . . react.”

Answering in words is still an emotional and physical action, and often they can be reactionary words. If I am responding to someone with reactionary actions or words, I have forgotten the process of connecting with my true presence (or speeding by it so quickly it could be defined as a slap and run). Anyway, if someone or something has pushed one of my buttons, I often find myself responding from an emotional reaction that probably has nothing to do with the person or the thing. The button, I believe, is some trigger that causes me to project qualities or meanings that belong to me and that I don’t like on to another person’s presence or actions.

I know when it is happening, too. I get this squirmy sort of annoyed irritation inside me who has a voice that says “Let’s teach this person a lesson! Let’s get them to stop doing that!” There are appropriate times when this might work well; for example, with people who are truly threatening my safety or well-being. It doesn’t work so well with people who are interacting with me on a social or professional level and largely just being who they believe themselves to be and/or are unconscious (nearly everybody qualifies for this last way of being).

I can’t always avoid the person or event that will trigger a reaction. The only control I have is over how I respond. If I take a mental and emotional step back and detach a little bit from the situation, I can observe me wanting to pitch a hissy fit, check in with my true presence, and respond in a way that takes better care of me.

It also gives me an opportunity to examine the button more closely from a less emotional place of being and find out what is really going on with me, what I need in this moment, and what I can do to heal and integrate the me whose finger is stuck on that button.

And then I will say “thank you.”

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

the disappearing presence

July 19, 2010

In yesterday’s blog at Speaking from the Heart, Laurie talked about death just being another step along the continuum of our existence. Intellectually, most people know that they will die. Emotionally, we wreck ourselves out of fear of dying, and we are programmed to avoid death as long as possible. The problem is that when we live out of fear of dying, we don’t really live. When we live out of knowing we will die, life takes on all new meaning.

So, I pondered this dilemma as I am apt to do on a Sunday when life is good and pleasant and I kept asking myself: what do I want to take with me in the ethereal energy that will leave this body? In these 50-odd years, I have created all sorts of energies and ways of being that I define as “me.” Some of them are pretty nifty: perseverance, generosity, understanding, and this quirky sense of blending the properties of the physical world.

For example, Laurie mentioned just a few of the thousands of ways to die like accidents, heart attacks, and being eaten by sharks (okay, she didn’t mention that last one).

Me . . . I think I would like to die of evaporation. Yep. I just want to go up in a blaze of vapor and disappear. Forget the body leftover, all that funeral stuff, people dribbling past the casket saying “she looks SO natural!”

Bleah.

I want people saying “where the heck did she go?”

I want to be the mystery woman. I am not at all mysterious in life. I am just kind of out there with my tongue tripping over my words, bumping into walls, taking life a bit too seriously, and probably taking on more than my fair share of responsibility.

I seek what I am not, though. I travel through my days and nights searching out this mystery of life, finding my own truths, and connecting with my true presence. The biggest mystery, of course, is where will I go and what will I be when I die? I’ve come to a truth for myself that I will take with me all that I have become. We all came to this earth with unlimited potentialities of defining the energy that we describe as “self.”

I just have to decide what self I want to live with forever.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

Earthquake Presence!

July 16, 2010

The earth moved today.

Really. It moved right under my feet.

There was an earthquake here in Maryland at about 5:05 a.m. About 3 miles beneath the surface, the earth readjusted itself, released a little pressure, and sent shock waves through the rock and soil. Its epicenter was about 10 miles up the road from where I live. It registered 3.6 so, in the larger scheme of things, a mere hiccup of the tectonic plates.

Yet, it was some of the more powerful trembling I have ever felt and a noise like thunder that went on for about 10 seconds . . . just a bit too long to be comfortable.

The Magic cat yawned through the entire thing, but I have been mesmerized all day by the fact that the earth moved. I have come to depend upon the earth staying in one place and remaining stable. Yes, I know we are spinning and hurtling through space at a bazillion miles an hour, but I am spinning and hurtling along at the same speed so I don’t really notice. Today, a part of the earth moved out of sync and reminded me that none of this is as secure as we want to believe. That it is forever is just an illusion.

There is a more powerful presence in the universe. It is the presence that sends things into motion. It is the energy that creates. We are that energy, too, along with the earth, the stars, the moon, and distant suns. We were set into motion by the same power that allows the earth to shift its weight to bear its burden.

For all I know, we are that power.

Think about that the next time life shakes you up a little.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

The presence of prisons

July 15, 2010

When I think of prisons, my first impression is that of locking away people who might cause me or others harm. Prisons exist to keep us safe. Prisons are used as a deterrent in an attempt to dissuade people from committing crimes. Evidently, the absence of freedom is thought to be terrifying enough to keep people well within the confines of our laws.

At night, I securely lock the windows and the doors. I set the security system to engage should anyone attempt entry into my home. These days, I would not dream of leaving a window open downstairs, nor would I sleep on my lower deck no matter how inviting the night air might be.

I start creating a whole different prison system now. I am becoming more the prisoner who locks herself away so that others cannot harm me. It keeps me safe.

And this is just the physical prison I might create to keep me safe. There are intellectual and emotional prisons that I have created to keep my absolute best, most pristine essence of myself safe from harm. I know this because I am still not using all of my gifts and I am existing on the fringe of respectability within the prison of common sense.

I can hear the gasps already. Common sense? A prison!? Oh, my!

But think about it. It made perfect sense those many years ago while I was a baby, a child, a teenager, so fragile and desperately trying to survive the nuttiness that was my family in a world that made no sense to me. There was no one – read that again and believe it – NO ONE who I could turn to for help in reconciling the poverty of love, affection, and support against my parents’ admonitions that they were being good parents. They might have been in their own weird ways. They were as overwhelmed as anyone with life and had no coping skills so how could I expect them to raise me with any?

My common sense saw right through them, though, and knew that I was not in a position to be negotiating my sanity or my physical safety. My common sense ruled that I needed to stay alive. To do that, I needed to stay safe. To stay safe, I had to lock some parts of me away.

Essentially, I looked at my parents and said “it is not safe for me to look to you for that [“that” being anything along the lines of love, acceptance, nurturing, etc.], therefore, I am going to lock my need for love, acceptance, nurturing, etc., away, and I will never have it and I will always be this [“this” being lonely, unfulfilled, depressed, angry, etc.].” The keys are the decisions I made at various points in my life to deny that I needed anyone, to not display my acute intellectual point-blank opinion of how life was being run, and to not be the person I truly am.

I repeated the pattern throughout all of my relationships. If a person I love did not respond to me as I think he or she should, I would take my toys and run away. I lock my toys away from that person perhaps not realizing that I am locking the toys away from myself as well. In the end, I have to ask: Who wants to play alone?

I don’t think it is possible to imprison our true presence. Rather, we lock our human consciousness away while our presence waits patiently for us to wrestle ourselves to the ground. Well, I wrestled myself right into a place where I felt absolutely nothing.

That was a long, long time ago. For over 30 years I have been intent on finding my missing toys, my gifts that are inherently mine and no one else’s. I have found many of them locked away inside my body, inside my head, behind emotional bars of steel and walls of concrete. I used writing, art, psychotherapy, exercise, meditation, travelling, loving, accepting, and a thousand other techiques. Freedom has sometimes required a separate key for each and other times, one key unlocks a bundle of me that comes tumbling out like belongings stashed away in an overstuffed closet.

I cannot regret or waste a moment of living on wishing that anything had been different. This was my path that I chose for whatever reason. I may never know the reason, but I know this is MY path. Because it is my path, then I am the only person who can find my keys, unlock those locks, and celebrate in the joy that I still am.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

Universal sorrow

July 12, 2010

There is a picture at the Newseum that haunts me. It was taken in the Sudaan. On a dirt road, a small child crouches, head bent touching the earth in a swoon of evident exhaustion. That the child is starving is obvious. Behind the child, a vulture waits expectantly.

The photo was taken back in 1994, but time and distance do not lessen its impact. I am there at the Newseum with my granddaughter who has never lacked for a day without love, caring, tenderness, shelter, food, water, and nurturing. The contrasting truth strikes home in one easy, swift stroke.

It is not so difficult to care for a child.

But it was impossible for an entire country to care for that one child in the photo. If it were an isolated incident, my heart would not be so wounded, except I know it continues.

We all owe that child and every child we let die of starvation, neglect, or abuse our own lives.

I sit here in my self-imposed luxury of American life and wonder why — if we are indeed the co-creators of our existence — why would we allow such misery to proliferate when there is easily a huge abundance of our basic necessities available?

And it is not so hard to love a child.

But even the photographer of that picture walked away, constricted by the rules of the time and society. Perhaps he thought that the picture would speak in a thousand more languages to save thousands more children than had he intervened to try and save one child.

My mind cannot even grasp the karmic platitudes that people use to rationalize starvation and abandonment in a world that supports 7 billion humans.

It is not so impossible to feed a child.

I know that such images, this knowledge, these truths find me as much as I find them. And I feel the sorrow of the universal consciousness as it nudges me and urges me to do something.

But I don’t know what.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

The Presence of January

July 11, 2010

She is quite possibly the most exquisite creation to grace earthlings in a millennia.

Reader, be warned . . . I might be a little biased in my opinion seeing how I am the grandmother of this darling of a girl who has been epitome of my existence. Yes . . . there are moments when I know I was born so that she could have her particular entry into this human form at this particular time.

January is a total presence. She has been given permission and fully accepts her right to be exactly who she is. Her only responsibility right now is to grow, unfold, and blossom.

She wears her presence well. I watch her cycle through and reflect to the world what is going on with her at any moment. She is honest in her assessment although lately she is learning how to phrase her honesty so as to not hurt a person’s feelings. She is in love with life and wants only for life to love her back.

Every moment of her presence is about creating. She creates conversation where there is none. She fashions games to play on long car drives where the only playing pieces are our minds. She will hunt around for odds and ends and any coloring devices handy to turn a cardboard box into a cabinet.

She loves American Girl, wearing dresses, and brushing the kitty’s teeth “squeaky” clean. I am not sure how the cat feels about that.

When we are together, there is little else that I pay attention to. I let my hobbies and chores fall by the wayside. They will still be there after January goes home. It is hard for me to let her go, but I knew that was the deal the second I was told of her existence. Months and months before her birth, I became enamored and attached, and I didn’t even know who she was then.

She brings my attention to the perfect unique being that each of us are. There is nothing else to worry about, nothing else to desire, nothing else to aspire to. She has taught me that we are perfect just the way we are today.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass