Posts Tagged ‘choice’

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 choice

September 23, 2010

I didn’t have any other choice.

I have heard this reasoning from lots of people to validate the decisions they’ve made. I’ve used it myself.

People’s lives are largely based on the choices they have made throughout their lifetimes. The circumstances they find themselves in are often the result of decisions they have made. If they enjoy their circumstances and love the lives they have, and if they keep using the same choice and decision-making process they have always used, they will probably find themselves in similar circumstances most of their lives. Even if some disaster out of their control sweeps their lives out from under them, if that person’s way of being is to be happy and enjoy life, that person will find a way to make their lives happy and enjoyable once again.

The same holds true for people who are not enjoying their lives, who are unhappy in their circumstances. Even if someone comes along and plucks them out of their miserable state, if the person rescued does not change their way of being in the world, they will eventually find themselves back in a similar miserable situation.

The kind of choice-making I am talking about is reserved for those who have free will and the capacity to enact the changes that they seek. There are those who are exempt, like infants and babies. But as soon as children develop awareness of self, they start making decisions. And we learn a lot of our decision-making behavior from the adults around us.

As children witness other adults’ decision-making behavior, I am not sure how much choice they have about adopting those behaviors. In survival mode, we all rely on what we know works because we witness it. Even if it other people’s behaviors do not work and their lives are miserable, if we have not witnessed a different behavior to model, we will rely upon what we know.

Until we wake up.

Once we grow and differentiate from others, we all have the capacity to change our way of being in the world and change the way we make decisions. We have the capacity to discover what is the best choice we could make given the kind of life we want to have.

As my friend, Laurie at Speaking from the Heart, would say: “Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

Walking gratitude

June 2, 2010

Gratitude is a tough walk to take at 3:00 a.m.

At 3:00 a.m., the ghosts of past decisions come to visit. Each and every one of those decisions brought me to this space in my life. I look at the coming day and realize that not everything that is going on in my life is the way I like it, but I am happier than I have ever been.

That I set it all in motion becomes acutely clear – so sharp in my vision that I have to sometimes look away. I am not ready to see all of me just yet.

I am willing to see that I make all of the choices and decisions to be working and living where I am. Every day, I choose this path for many different reasons, and some of those decisions are made unconsciously. As my unconscious self slowly wakes up, I am meeting the self I am who desires peace and happiness.

At 3:00 a.m., I am not quite sure where I will find peace and happiness. All of my lessons in being powerless have taught me that peace and happiness are not “out there” even if I perceive others in the world as having more than their fair share. Still others have so much pain and sorrow, I feel guilty for having any joy.

It is easier to talk gratitude than to walk gratitude. My unconscious self who gave up peace and happiness in favor of guilt and inadequacy knows all the reasons, and I do not need to resolve all of those issues before I walk this path of gratitude presence. The wisdom of my eternal presence reminds me that this walk I am taking, this time of waking up, is happening within me. Within me is the path to peace and happiness – within my thoughts, within my feelings, within my actions, within my responses. Who I am becoming is reflected for others to see and perceive however they choose.

It is time to be the word and today the word is gratitude.

©2010 Barbara L. Kass

Reflective presence

May 6, 2010

Sigmund Freud and I share a birthday – May 6. That’s today, by the way. The Hindenburg also blew up on this day in 1937, but I don’t think there is any connection.

Like Freud, I tend to psychoanalyze everything and want to blame it all on my mother.

That puzzles her, of course, because I did not turn out anything like she imagined I would. In fact, I didn’t turn out at all like I imagined I would.

Reflecting upon some of the escapades and near-misses in my life, I am amazed that I survived fairly intact. I spent my middle school, high school, and young adult years on the border of Texas and Mexico with drugs and alcohol freely available. I was smart enough to stay away from drugs but spent many weekend nights in a Juarez bar with my friends. My entourage included a number of people who probably would not have passed a drug or sobriety test at any time of the day. A couple of them actually completely disappeared without warning.

Today, you could not pay me enough money to cross that border.

My parents nearly let me die on a few occasions when I was a child, not because they were murderers at heart, but because they were totally inept. My mother takes insult over that word (she still envisions herself as the perfect mother), but what she doesn’t realize is that it lets her off my hook. I nearly died because no one knew any better.

I do now.

I know that I have always been the person I chose to be. Even if for a time I tried mightily to become who they believed I needed to be, it was still my choice. I look at my future from my present state of mind and being and decide if I want to continue on the path I am currently on. Sometimes, I have made U-turns and other times, I have gotten completely off the highway.

And it does not matter to me whether my path has been good or bad, right or wrong. My 20/20 hindsight always has a better plan. I take only whatever wisdom that hindsight can offer me in the present. Right now, reflecting upon my past behavior, this I know is true: I have whatever I need to continue to be.

©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

The presence of distraction

April 10, 2010

Distraction is the presence of energies that attract our attention away from anything else that we could choose to focus on. Distraction is a useful mechanism, but like anything else, whatever we focus on will grow. It is even possible to have a life full of distraction.

I struggle with distraction. One time, I was sitting in a death-by-meeting at work struggling to stay awake among 20 other people also close to dozing off. My participation was not required. I was there for informational purposes only. The person who had called the meeting (let’s call that person, um, Unconscious) had already given me what I needed to know in the first five minutes. While I could have left, Unconscious was someone known to take that sort of behavior as a personal offense. To keep myself awake, I began freewriting and, before too long, I was well into the first draft of a short story. I had four handwritten pages by the time the meeting ended. I was part of the crowd surging for the door when I heard Unconscious call my name. Ever the good employee, I stepped aside and let the herd sweep around me. Unconscious said “I was really impressed with the amount of notes you were taking. Could I have a copy of those?”

You can guess the rest. I had to run around to 18 other people and ask them what the heck Unconscious had talked about without letting them know I had not heard a word. That story became my second short story from that meeting.

Distractions are just energies that appear more appealing than other energies that need our attention. I need to say “no” to all the distractions that come dancing my way waving their fancy little fantasies and tales of pleasure. I need to stop thinking in the Land of Supposed To Be or the Land Where I Would Rather Be and instead think and act in the Land of I Where I Am. I need to take full responsibility for my choices and take care of myself in the present. If there is a situation I am avoiding that I need to attend to, I have to stop and ask myself why. Am I waiting for the stars and planets to line up in perfect harmony? For everything to be okay so that I feel safe in taking that next big step in my life towards the Land of I Want To Be? If I continue this frame of thought, I will be waiting a long long long long long time so it occurs to me that I will probably take a small step today, put a toe (maybe even an entire foot!) in the water to test its depth, measure its temperature, and see how it might be to walk in that ocean that leads to the Life I Envision For Myself. At some point, I know I may fall off some yet unseen precipice and find myself underwater, but that’s okay . . . I know how to swim.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass