the presence of thinking

A little miracle occurred in my head this past week. I don’t have to think anything about anything ever at all. I can choose to be thoughtless — which is not the same thing as being inconsiderate, unconscious or unaware. It simply means I can choose to think or not think about anything.

A person who often comments on my blogs introduced me to Jan Frazier. (See the discourse at the presence of obligation.)

Frazier says that “the thinker produces the thoughts. But what is not so obvious is that the thinker is really just another one of the thoughts, basically. An elaborate thought, maybe, but invented just as sure as the thoughts are invented. You think yourself up and then the self you thought up thinks thoughts.”

I am a product of my own imagination. You would think I could have been more creative with that product or at least given myself a metabolism that could easily handle a quart of ice cream a day.

Frazier goes on to say “What’s important in all of this is to realize that there is something within a person, an intelligent knower that is not the same as the thinker. That is actually of an order of reality different from the one the thinker and the thought occupy. When you wake up, you realize that this other something is what you really are.”

What is this presence, this “knower” in me that allows me to observe my own thinking? Some might say that it is the mind. Frazier acknowledges it is a different “order of reality.” For me, it is the eternal presence I have always been. I wonder if I (the eternal presence) created me with certain characteristics and specifications because I (the eternal presence) knows what I need to learn to evolve. I purposefully gave me the obstacles I perceive in myself to challenge me enough to develop the spiritual muscle required to take me to the next level.

My new challenge is to not think any particular thing about anything: any situation, person, idea, object, animal, insect, or even a thought. When my mind begins the whirring and spinning that elicits some kind of response, I think “I don’t have to think anything about this.” The hundred gears that make me process life don’t grind to a complete halt, but they sure slow down a lot and some of them get a little creaky. A new game begins. I purposefully think different things about whatever is before me. I waltz with various positions, flip perspectives, and pause to consider the feelings that result from each of those thoughts.

When I actually get a chance to find my mind silent, an open channel to connect with my eternal presence opens up. There isn’t anything to say or think. There is just being. Thought stops.

I know all of you are crying out in angst wondering what the heck I am going to write about here on Eternal Presence if I don’t have any thoughts to write down.

Fear not. We are hardwired by our creation to think something. It helps keep us alive. I will still be here shooting my fingers off from the keyboard, except I will be more who I truly am.

©2011 by Barbara L. Kass


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15 Responses to “the presence of thinking”

  1. jeffstroud Says:


    Now you have created a mind bender here! And the talent to me is to “hear” what you are saying, without “hearing” what I am thinking first! The Practice of listening… my mind went to, “that is what meditation is for, to slow down the thinking, to get out of our own way.” Than there is a line in Conversations with God which says, “think what you are thinking about.”
    Also the practice of Zen Buddhist to have no thought, everything is, as everything is until it is something else.

    I am sure there is more here and I will try to head back to your blog where Jan Frazier is linked to stir the thoughts some more.

    I am Love, Jeff

    • Barbara Kass Says:

      Hi, Jeff! I know. I worked hard to not think too much about thinking this week. I kept having this little argument “but, if I don’t think, something might happen!” (like what?) “I don’t know! I have to pay attention all the time to everything to make sure nothing happens!” (has it worked yet?) “No, but that just means I’m not doing it right!” (sigh)
      It has been an interesting week.

  2. passionatepresence Says:

    My God Barbara! This is so Beautifully written! I can feel the freedom just reading the voice from where this was written. Thank you!

    I don’t know what the real me is as it is unknowable, but when I live from there I feel free, whole, loving, and real even though I can’t put a label on it, and that turns out to be the point I missed all my life. How does all this flush out in every day life has been my life’s passion.

    So I will continue with a report of the difficulty I was having with a co-worker story I was telling on your obligation entry.

    We had our Wednesday meeting. The meeting went really well, we came to agreement, and I am helping her with a piece of a project that is important to her. I am glad and grateful it went well; however, the result was not the point… AT ALL. That is so contrary to what I believed for so long.

    In our meeting, she occupies a role called Business Process Owner. She is responsible for setting, documenting, and delivering the procedures, rules, of certain workflows within our business.

    My responsibilities and perceived role is Project Leader. I lead projects to accomplish some predetermined goal on time, on budget, and according to specification.

    We both are trying to accomplish a desirable end game. I recently saw that she wants to make sure the process is in control. I want to make sure it is changed positively in the allotted time.

    Not seeing that we were assuming that we were ARE our roles. She IS a BP Owner. I am a Project Leader just like Doctors think they are Doctors and The President thinks he is the President.

    Along with these roles that I\We think we are, we attribute certain traits. It could be honesty, integrity, intelligence, or whatever. Then we endeavor to be those things.

    In this meeting, she laid out the issue or problem we were having with some reports. Seeing how she and I have been living according to our concepts (roles with traits) I began to listen to her talk about and describe the situation. I listened to her to hear how her ideas about herself were influencing her words, tones, and attitudes. Everyone would comment and participate on trying to understand what was going on and solving the problem.

    Every so often when I spoke she would interject with a belief about how something should be approached, accomplished, and would\should be the end result. If any of those conflicted (IN MY MIND) with my goal and role of being open, honest, and a dependable Project Leader, then I would flare up inside which in the past could lead to an uncomfortable debate.

    In this meeting, the process started again just like it did in the past with one HUGE exception, as I listened to her reach for her role and begin to exercise control, I heard the quality in her voice more than what she was saying. I heard her stretching, straining, and at times I felt and heard a motherly or parental scolding kind attitude for those in the field locations not following the processes. I was experiencing her living through how she thought of herself.

    Then, I started to feel directly how her expressions during these times raised up feelings, concepts, and attitudes in me about how controlling she is, how she throws things off target, and other feelings, thoughts (concepts) that throw projects off the critical path.

    This time though there was a BIG difference. I was aware of what was happening with her, and when I felt her forcefully acting her role, I was humbled because I was seeing what I had been doing my whole life as well with darn near everyone I meet.

    Not only that, I was feeling how concepts and roles another person occupied and the traits they projected flared up my roles and traits to create a whole big story and even a mini culture based on conceptual agreements of how things will carry out.

    I felt so humbled by all this. I was seeing illusion being created right before my eyes and I was participating in creating it. How is that?

    Being a Project Leader is role with a group of activities that I perform for my job. They are activities. The aren’t me. If the activities stopped say I got laid off, would I cease to exist? No, but I will bet you I would suffer greatly if I was laid off and I believed this group of activities was who I am.

    Same holds true if I believe my self to be a trait or group of traits say honesty, and then I hide away some aspects of myself and blind myself to it. Honesty is a trait, but if I really am not as honest as I “think” I am, then would I cease to exist and disappear if I discovered how I was being less than honest or even dishonest?

    Oh Yes! I would suffer if I believed honesty was who I am. The truth is honesty is a concept, and people would and could debate the definition and actions that did and didn’t constitute honesty. Each person would think they were right and that they were honest.

    However, if they slipped up and were not honest on an occasion would they cease to exist, or disappear? No, they might suffer though and expend great effort defending or attempting to change.

    Seeing that I was defining my life according to ideas, traits, roles, and as “me” opened me up to what I really am which is mysterious and beyond all those things.

    What I really am can only really be experienced directly by me beyond my points of view and descriptions. That was both amazing and humbling to realize and to see how blind I have been.

    I know I don’t want to judge anyone by conceptual criteria any more, and even that is a concept that could set me up for failure. Really language fails at this point. I want to feel their lovely open and free essence. I wanted to hear the innocent little girl in her voice during the meeting not the controlling BP Owner. I wanted to feel that in myself as well, and I was able to by seeing and feeling the mirror of myself in her rather than debating intellectually and resisting her.

    It was such a gift and it was so beyond the purpose of the meeting and the end result. It transcended the situation TOTALLY. It was a miracle! It was an every day miracle of life and it had no requirements for being experienced directly.

    So, yes we had a good meeting, achieved some good results, and got along just fine, but the gift was none of those things. The gift was freedom that no where in the framework of my every day “thinking” and interpreting mind is my real self; only the illusion of one I identified with my whole life. Just seeing and feeling it allowed it to loosen and I can and could touch an aspect of the freedom I really am beyond any conceptual description.

    Sometimes I feel like the joke is on me. That everyone already gets this and knows this, and I am the last one to really see it and live it. It is so obvious and I couldn’t have missed it any more than I have.

    I then realized that is all I ever really wanted in life.

    Great Post Barbara!
    Thanks so much for the free and open space to experience and dialogue this. It is a true pleasure and expression of Presence.

    • Barbara Kass Says:

      Wow, Ben, your experience is SO rich. I love the parts about you living her experience with her and being aware of creating the illusion right there. Thank you for giving me the details. I am going to try this method with the people I work, live, love, and play with. I think that very few people “get this.” You and I struggle just to get to the point where we know there is something to “get.” We may not know what it is, but we are going to keep digging and meditating and poking at it until it reveals the mystery game. Your work is so reflective of how to BE in the world of people. You’ve implemented a mindfulness capacity of all the players: you, the woman, the roles, the illusion, and KNOWING this, you persevered to get to the other side of that interaction intact and with a deeper (yes, gift) knowledge of exactly what you are capable of. That you know you are not your role, your actions, or your concepts is so liberating. You can be in your role, perform your actions, honor your concepts, and still be your true presence. How lovely.

  3. ButterfliesGalore-Kimberly Grady Says:

    I would respond but – am not going to think about it….

    No thinking right now….just being….no wondering, pondering, planning,judging,piecing together, solving hard issues, challenging, risking…….Just being…..Eternal Presence…

  4. holessence Says:

    Barbara – This particular sentence has me laughing with you this morning:

    “You would think I could have been more creative with that product or at least given myself a metabolism that could easily handle a quart of ice cream a day.”

    My heart/mind follows closely to this thought you shared (it may not be that exactly, but “close enough for government work”):

    “I wonder if I (the eternal presence) created me with certain characteristics and specifications because I (the eternal presence) knows what I need to learn to evolve. I purposefully gave me the obstacles I perceive in myself to challenge me enough to develop the spiritual muscle required to take me to the next level.”

    Thank you for another delicious helping of Food for Thought!

    • Barbara Kass Says:

      Fortunately, Laurie, my food for thought is noncaloric yet endlessly nutritious! In fact, there are some days when I burn off so many brain calories that I get to eat more. Of everything. It is true, though, I have learned much about my likes and dislikes in this lifetime and NEXT time, I am definitely opting for the high metabolism.

  5. passionatepresence Says:

    I will share a poem I wrote today in response to the entry…

    We Share A Common Prison

    We share a common prison
    that ultimately
    sets us

    The Gift of Love
    the compassion
    for all whom I live,
    and meet….
    is not based on a good heart,
    or philosophy of love.
    Oh No Beloved!
    Simply hearing how
    we imprison ourselves
    in concepts,
    and ideologies
    about life
    and how my reaction to those
    ideas, beliefs, and traits
    imprisons me even further….

    Just hearing it,
    feeling it,
    watching how
    we cage ourselves
    loosens the mental
    and attachments
    the transcendent
    that is in the moment
    and not of it.

    Are we our activities,
    or Mom?

    Are we our
    of peace?
    Any of them

    I was so surprised Beloved
    to discover
    the Gift of Freedom,
    is given through the mirror
    of supposed others.
    and the gorgeous
    and gift
    that I truly
    in a world


  6. Barbara Kass Says:

    Ben, I like your poem. In discovering our self-made prisons, we discover freedom. Anything else is just a story we tell ourselves. I am curious about the last stanza, that everyone else in the world seems to know who they are. I would venture to say most of them are not even aware they are in prison.

  7. passionatepresence Says:

    Well I certainly didn’t know I was in a prison for quite some time Barbara, and yet I could feel that something wasn’t quite authentic. I see and feel that all around me especially at work.

    It was really discouraging for me to discover and also the most helpful thing in the world to see that what many leaders and authoritative figures (in business, politics, religion, education, etc.) attempt to manipulate and mold behavior so it looks and performs a certain way in an individual.

    Once I really saw and felt what arose in me instead of hiding from it or pushing it away, it became more difficult to separate myself from the unaware and apparently unconscious. I was and still am like them.

    The patterns and identifications may be different, but I was\am living in the unconscious to some extent. There is so much going on behind the scenes in our unconscious brains\minds that we don’t understand. At first, I thought the difference was that I was doing something about it and they weren’t, but when you look at the challenges in the world today, it appears those challenges are forcing us to seek something new in ourselves and only in this moment. That is all we have. It is the all of eternity. It is the alpha and omega. It is the unborn. By the time something has happened and I realize it in my head, it is past.

    It appears on the surface that in order for us to survive as a species and thrive in peace, we are going to have to drop our conceptual identities or perish as a species and a planet defending them.

    The book I mentioned in the last post is the most straight forward I have read on waking up. It totally demystifies it… so far. It is big book.

    If I hear and feel into your reply though, it does appear that many are not aware. And yet… it seems like so many of us are opening to the truth and the circumstances in the world are forcing it to an extent. So, at a time of discouragement with the old ways, I can see something new is trying to emerge. I am seeing and hearing a new level of honesty and transparency in more and more people who have some influence.

    That is why I support your blog so much. Diving into presence each of us is individually discovering the truth of this life and that is the most important work in the world in my view.

    I can go out and try to save the world and I might have some impact and help some people, but if I open a gap in someone that allows them to see the truth of who they are for themselves not as I say it is, but as they see it is, then there is nothing better. It is a game changer as we operate from a completely different place, and I am betting that is better for this planet and everyone in it.

    I think this what you cultivate and explore here and it is some of the most important work ever… It facilitates truth, and I have never found that bad although I often find it painful. ;o)))

    You are doing a great activity here Barbara and I am appreciative that I have a place to write my heart.

    Deep Bow!

    • Barbara Kass Says:

      Hi, Ben — I think you state something that I am going to hijack and write more about; in the middle above, you say “those challenges are forcing us to seek something new in ourselves and only in this moment. That is all we have. It is the all of eternity. It is the alpha and omega. It is the unborn. By the time something has happened and I realize it in my head, it is past.”

      I feel that we are setting up these challenges to wake us up, perhaps it is the “unconscious” part of us working behind the scenes to get our attention. This seeking something new in ourselves to meet our challenges I think is crucial to becoming who we truly are.

      I understand that the more aware and conscious we become, actually the less we feel separated from others; instead, we feel more connected; we see how we are alike; we might nudge them a little bit to wake up.

      Thank you for the compliment that we are cultivating and exploring some important work here. You can feel free to write as much (or little) as you desire. Every time we communicate, something becomes clearer to me, my path shifts a little, so you are contributing as much as I to this process of becoming.


  8. sandiwhite Says:

    Lord help us, Barbara! Well, I’m just going to try not to think about it. You have so much traffic going on in your brain that I imagine it would be a relief to call it to a halt and let the Pilot of Your Soul take over and put it on Cruise Control. I mean, nobody drives using blind instinct, but to let the greater Wisdom have more Space is probably a very restful alternative. I have been making a greater effort at meditation lately ( there is a non-sequitur for you! ), but my mind, Ms. Busybody, keeps breaking in with all kinds of interesting diversions. Like the more I try not to think about not smoking, the more thought gets pulled that way. It’s like Linus being aware of his tongue…how do you make it go away? I can see where you are going with this, I think, will it fly? I know Yogis, Shamen, saints and great contemplatives can do this thing, when you reach that state, which I have no doubt you will, I, we, want to know what it is like.

    • Barbara Kass Says:

      Hi, Sandi — some days, you would not believe the noise in my head . . .

      You make a good point about meditating and the mind gets real nervous when we do that. The trick is to be aware of the mind and just observe its antics while meditating and then it becomes easier to observe its antics when we are not meditating.

      As an ex-smoker, I can tell you that the thoughts about smoking go away without even trying. Now, when I think about it, the thought has no impact on me.

      I don’t know that I would ever imagine myself as a “great contemplative” but that is something to aspire to. The greater wisdom in me that you mention is keen on that idea, as well. This inner voice does not appear in my head. It appears in the center of my body. My wisdom might be a newbie at all this thinking stuff, but it has existed since the Big Bang (I think we were all crammed up in that little ball of compressed mass and made such a fuss about it, we exploded). There is a past eternity of knowledge and insight available to me and that is what I am reaching for.

  9. the presence of challenge « Eternal Presence Says:

    […] is not always hard, but life is always work. In a recent post, my friend, Ben, wrote “the challenges in the world today . . . are forcing us to seek something […]

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