Archive for January, 2013

The presence of awakening

January 28, 2013

Enlightenment does not have to come like a bolt of lightning.

Some people are born enlightened (Jesus comes to mind). Others of us have these ongoing momentous occasions where we are suddenly awakened into a higher consciousness of life and our illusionary personality falls away. Fellow blogger Kathy Drue writes about this in her blog, Simply Here. Warning: if you don’t “get” anything she writes about, then you are nowhere near ready to drop the illusion that you are your personality, your job, your clothes, your body, your thoughts, your words, or anything else you might be attached to, and that’s okay. Come back later.

Meanwhile, there are those of us (===>pointing at self) whose enlightenment and awakening are coming along at about the pace of a two-year-old learning quantum physics. The idea that most people are not conscious and definitely NOT concerned about my personal well-being has taken over half a century to light up in my feeble brain. The truth is we are all self-absorbed. Once I accepted that I am not special, that I am totally self-absorbed, then AND ONLY THEN, could I look at my self-absorption and decide how to deal with it. I can choose to remain self-absorbed. A good deal of my time and effort remain devoted to self-absorption. I don’t go to work, earn money, buy food, and live in my illusory secure environment for anyone’s sake except mine. (Okay . . . a little bit for you, too. If I do it, then I don’t become a burden on society so self-absorption is also a part of self-responsibility.)

But the awakened part of me can let go my self-absorption for moments at a time to care for other human beings. Although I am not sure there can possibly be a total altruistic act, when I am sitting with another person in need, my heart talk is not about what I can get out of the situation. I am scurrying around within and reaching for that cosmic connection to bring something to the table for that other person to take in and bring home. Later, my ego personality will surface and get all puffed up about it, feel pleased, and say “didn’t we do great?” And, I will gently remind myself, “this time.” Next time, we might not do so well. Next time, we might not get what we want.

Here’s a scary part about awakening: I no longer really care if I get what I think I want. Even if I get it, whatever I have received is as transitory as my next breath.

Except waking up.

Once you are awakened, there is no more sleeping.

©2013 by Barbara L. Kass

The presence of resolutions

January 1, 2013

I actually found something useful on the Internet.

It was an article on Yahoo about nine daily habits that will make us happier. The article promised “immediate results” which (of course) caused my gullible alert meter to skyrocket. I’ve edited them a bit for personal use as New Year’s resolutions:

1. Start each day with expectation.

The article noted that life “lives up to (or down to) your expectations” and advises you to think “something wonderful is going to happen today” when you first get up in the morning. If you and your loved ones make it through the day alive, something wonderful has indeed happened so this one is a no-brainer. My personal edit to this one would be to look for the wonderful in my life and expect to find at least one if not many.

2. Take time to plan and prioritize.

Article advice is to “pick one thing that, if you get it done today, will move you closer to your highest goal and purpose in life. Then do that first.” My highest goal and purpose in life has nothing to do with achieving status or accumulating wealth. It is to become the best human being I can be. The real trick is to remember to be and do that in each moment even after some nutjob has just cut me off on the Washington beltway going 75 mph.

3. Give a gift to everyone you meet.

The article defines gift as a “smile, a word of thanks or encouragement, a gesture of politeness, even a friendly nod.” It also admonishes readers to “never pass beggars without leaving them something.” For those of you who claim that giving to the homeless just encourages them to remain homeless, here is my experience with that: most of the people who are homeless are not there out of choice. If they could cope with life better, they would. The awful truth is that they cannot for reasons too numerous to list here. You could not rescue them if you tried. I follow my conscience and do what helps me sleep at night.

4. Deflect partisan conversations.

The article advises to “bow out” of conversations about politics and religion but I look upon these conversations as opportunities to find out what is really going on inside the other person. I don’t have to engage in an argument, but I can bring out my inquisitive self and just keep asking questions like “why do you say that?” and “what makes you feel that way?”

5. Assume people have good intentions.

The article states an immutable truth: “Since you can’t read minds, you don’t really know the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’ that people do.” However, it implies that you should assume “good intentions” rather than “evil motives” with regards to “other people’s weird behaviors”. My feeling is that I have to use some judgment about those “weird behaviors” and get more information before I assume anything good or bad.

6. Eat high quality food slowly.

The article recommends that we “eat something really delicious, like a small chunk of fine cheese or an imported chocolate” once a day and to “focus . . . taste . . . savor it.” Why only once a day? Why is only fine cheese or imported chocolate “really delicious”? And, why only “high quality food”? Food (REAL food, people!) is more satisfying if eaten slowly and consciously.

7. Let go of your results.

The article tells us that worry is “the big enemy of happiness” and advises us to not focus on “events that are outside” of our control. Once we have done all that we can about any situation, we need to let go of the results. A good deed done does not necessarily translate into a good outcome.

8. Turn off “background” TV.

The article states that “the entire point of broadcast TV is to make you dissatisfied with your life so that you’ll buy more stuff.” I don’t know that this is true. I see plenty of things on television that make very happy that I have my life and not someone else’s life. That being said, I agree with turning off the noise for a little while each day. Embracing solitude and silence helps reduce stress.

9. End each day with gratitude.

The article recommends each day writing down at least one wonderful thing that happened such as “making a child laugh.” I can’t argue with keeping a gratitude journal but I encourage you to find at least three things each day to be grateful for. Make it your assignment each morning knowing that you can’t duplicate items from day to day.

And here is my personal habit that I am adding: live your life as a question. Quit seeking the answers and instead, live into the question you are asking. For more about that, see my article at Loyola’s Meaning Making blog.

Finally, this is my year of Living the Prayer. Praying has always seemed to me to be a very passive sort of activity, so I generally pulled it out only when I had no other choice (the prayer was usually preceded by terminology similar to “oh, crap!”). Something in my realization of what “eternal presence” signifies has caused me to sit up and take notice that while there are always beginnings and endings, there are also continuings (<=== is this a real word?).

Welcome to my continuings.

©2013 by Barbara L. Kass