Posts Tagged ‘history’

the presence of transcendence

June 26, 2011

I’ve been working on this blog about transcendence for about a month now. It is a slow process because I am in the process of practicing transcendence to get over myself, and I’ve got a lot of history being myself. The question is: can I be all of who I am and still find joy in my being even when I am limited, even when my circumstances are less than perfect? Can I maintain my presence within my boundaries no matter who or what is tugging me away from my true presence? Can I transcend the fact that I don’t have a clear handle on transcendence and write about it anyway?

It is a moment by moment decision with countless opportunities. I find that if I wait to write about transcendence until I have transcended my life completely, most of us will be a little bit dead.

The word transcendence is tossed around all over enlightenment literature. We are told to transcend this or that. We read about transcendent experiences. Transcendence generally means to go beyond something — beyond an experience, beyond our own states of being. Some definitions are particular in their nuances. One definition describes transcendence as surpassing others, being preeminent or supreme (think “God”). Another says that transcendence lies beyond the ordinary range of perception. Yet another describes transcendence as being above and independent of the material universe. Transcendence is also the state of excelling or surpassing or going beyond the usual limits.

I listen to these definitions carefully as I encounter moments of transcendent opportunity. The general meaning of transcendence – to go beyond something – fits best with how my life is unfolding right now. I define transcendence in terms of choosing how I want to interpret and experience the moments of my life.

I cannot abandon my history. All that I have experienced has brought me to this moment and will follow me into the next moments. I cannot change my experiences, but I can change my perception of those experiences. Much of my life is cued by what has happened in the past and what might happen in the future. If I want to have a different experience than the one I am having right now, it is up to me to transcend my preconceived ideas and ways of being. It may not necessarily change the situation, but it brings more of who I truly am into action.

Stay tuned.

©2011 by Barbara L. Kass

the presence of memory

September 14, 2010

The past occasionally creeps up on me like a spider stalking its prey. I can feel it coming but because I am entangled in the web that is my life, I am helpless. I surrender to my helplessness, bracing myself for the inevitable wondering if the past will devour me whole or wrap me up like a cocoon to snack on at a later time.

My history is always with me. Mostly, it remains hidden behind the piles of other, more recent memories. I have selective recollection for the most part, but when I am on a quest to heal my present self, inevitably a forgotten memory slips past my selectivity. These are short memories, snapshots that crystallize a significant point in my life so I can see how I was made and who I was at that time.

One poignant example comes from my first year in school. I have a sister who is one year older than I am. She was in the second grade. We had bicycles to ride to school, but on the way home one day, the chain to my bike broke, so I could not ride it. I had to walk, but I was not sure I knew the way by myself. I asked my sister if she would walk with me, but she said no and pedaled off.

I walked whatever distance it was alone and very sad. My sister had abandoned me. Obviously, I found my way home. I do not remember my mother’s response. I think my father was in Korea at the time. In the big scheme of things, this was a very small matter and one that I survived just fine.

As our lives evolved, it would turn out that I learned to be as totally self-reliant as I could be, even to the point of isolating myself to prove that I did not need anyone because other people are unreliable. I struggled through co-dependency issues with my mother, finding out in the end that the only kind of relationship she can have with others is that of co-dependency.

This particular incident is an example of the theme of abandonment in my childhood. I am not special, by the way, we all have abandonment issues because at some point somebody we depended upon left us to take care of matters on our own. That is the nature of life. I waver between feeling sorry for my little self while at the same time finding it remarkable that I could take care of myself in a very adult way. When I wonder what I came to this existence to learn, incidents like this stand out for me. If I take ultimate responsibility for my existence, then I absolutely must ask myself: What is valuable about the incident that I need to learn?

On the heels of my life lessons comes wisdom, and then I must untangle myself from that web and let it go. Constantly poking and biting at my sister and my mother through my memory does not serve me well. That particular spider will have to find other prey.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass