Posts Tagged ‘challenge’

the presence of challenge

January 12, 2011

The belief taught in the Lotus Sutra provides no easy answers, no escape route from the difficulties of human life. In fact, it rejects such easy answers; instead it implores us to take up the two tools for exploring life, belief and understanding, and use them to continually challenge and work to perfect ourselves. And it also provides us the energy to do just that. -Daisaku Ikeda (sharingbuddhism.com)

Life has its easy moments . . . remembering that “easy” is a relative term. What I sweep through like a breeze might be a hardship for others. The idea that life itself is easy appears true for only a few individuals. Even then, what we see is the appearance that life is easy. We don’t see the struggle and work behind the scenes. Many people I know who seem to have the easy life worked very hard to get there.

Life 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 new in ourselves and only in this moment. That is all we have.”

He is right – we only have this moment to meet the challenges of our lives. Because life is not static, each moment brings a new challenge. Even if those challenges appear to be the same old challenges, they are not. We are unwinding and unfolding along with that challenge in each moment. More of our selves are exposed and available. Thus our abilities, our perspectives, our understanding are changed and there is more of who we truly are to bring to that challenge.

I have a few friends who have physical handicaps. One of them has multiple sclerosis and has had it for 40 years. He copes by reinventing how he meets that challenge each day, in each moment. When one technique stops working, he finds something new in himself to meet that challenge. He gets creative and is willing to do the work required to deal with the new challenges life brings him.

Ben goes on to write that the moments of our lives are “the alpha and the omega.” Each moment is its own beginning and its own end. Once we get inside that knowledge, we realize this moment is the eternal present and this is the only chance we have to find that something new in ourselves to meet our challenges.

Find something new in you today, tonight, tomorrow, and all the moments you encounter. Be that new creation, that new thought, that new action. There is a reason why we set all of this in motion and leave it in motion. None of it was designed to become cold and still . . . and that includes you.

©2011 by Barbara L. Kass

the presence of thinking

January 8, 2011

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