Posts Tagged ‘illusion’

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

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homeless presence

September 21, 2010

“Sha’up.”

She says this several times, to other children, to adults to might stop to talk with her.

“Sha’up.”

She is all of two years old. I know this because I have overheard the conversation her mother is having with one of the staff of the homeless shelter. I am at this homeless shelter as a part of my service learning commitment for my degree in pastoral counseling and spiritual care at Loyola University.

Service learning is not just volunteering to “do good” for others so that we feel good about ourselves. Service learning is just that: learning about service to others. These families who are homeless are going to teach me an awful lot over the next 10 to 12 weeks about my limits and boundaries, my capacities and abilities.

Meanwhile, I am listening to this child and realizing that she says “Sha’up” when anyone begins telling her something she does not want to hear or if she wants to be talking.

Shut up.

This is a homeless shelter for families. It is just a temporary place with a strictly ruled game-plan to get these people self-sufficient and into housing of their own. This two-year-old little darling of a girl who has learned to say “shut up” hasn’t a clue that there might be a different way to live. It is the hope of the staff who work at the shelter that she will learn.

It is not for me to question why any of these families became homeless, but I want to hear their stories. How I respond to this environment and the people who live here is going to introduce me to my prejudices, my projections, my illusions, and my realities . . . but only if I pay close attention and am willing to learn.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

the presence of 9/11

September 11, 2010

I’ve learned that when a piece of writing stirs me, I need to pay attention. The September 2010 issue of Science of Mind has a number of interesting articles, all of which simultaneously call to me. The one that jumps out at me today is prelude to a disagreement – not an outright argument because I don’t have the luxury of a live opponent – but rather an observation. I disagree with a statement made in one article is about a book ‒ From Cancer to Power ‒ written by its author.

For anyone who is dealing with cancer, the book sounds like it has some excellent guidance, except for one little bit of advice: the formula the author suggests for taking responsibility: E + R = O. This stands for Event plus Response equals Outcome. The author indicates that we are not always in control of what happens to us but because we are in control of how we respond, we can “therefore, control the outcome.”

What a pile of doo-doo.

I am thinking about the people who died on September 11, 2001. Many of them responded brilliantly and survived. Many of them responded brilliantly and did not survive. If survival was the desired outcome (and I am just assuming that it was), then a whole bunch of people did not respond the “right” way. I am not sure what the “right” way would have been for the people on the floors above the impact of the airplanes as there was no possible way to escape except to grow wings and fly. They were helpless, deeply submerged in a disaster that could not be undone.

Ditto for the people who were on the airplanes.

This simplistic solution for controlling our destinies has me a bit aggravated. I have not read the book, but I am hoping . . . a lot . . . that the author went on to define what she means by outcome. The implication of E + R = O is that if we respond in just the right way to each event, then we can control what happens next. That absolutely is not true and it sets people up for self-recrimination and blame when the outcome is not the one they had aimed for. That this idea is planted in a book whose audience is people dealing with cancer scares me. The author battled cancer and survived, but her methods were just that: her methods. They worked for her. They may or may not work for other people. None of us can ever know what life is like inside another person’s experience.

Control is an illusion. The only outcome we can truly control through our response is how we behave.

Spiritual Warrior

July 31, 2010

My friend, Jeff (the reluctant bloger), responded to one of my blogs using the term “spiritual warrior.” In my quests to discover the divine truth of me and my life, I often feel that I am battling to discover, uncover, and recover.

Jeff said “it takes powerful courage to walk the way of the spiritual warrior.” My courage comes from my innate gravitation towards happiness. I want to be happy. I want to feel love. I remember those gravitational moments in my early years when I sought to be happy and some misunderstanding soul slapped me down. And because I was small and dependent upon them, I stayed down. I think it does take courage to get up and be willing to tackle the monsters again.

To read more about my monsters, go to “real monsters don’t wear costumes” under my About section.

I am fighting my programming, my natural instinct to survive, my need to belong and fit in with others. My warrior fights for my need to evolve and become while my survivor says “yes, but let’s fit in with the rest of the world at some level. We need them.”

I let my outside circumstances and other people determine who I became and I was a very unhappy soul. No matter what mental or emotional acrobatics I performed, the world was still not satisfied and continued its dysfunction. I could not become any more dysfunctional to accommodate it. To do so would have meant a total mental and emotional breakdown. I would have ceased to exist.

If I wanted to survive, my only option was to begin this journey. I began to slay the demons I had created for myself and who I had come to depend upon for survival. They worked in my childhood, kept the insanity of living in check, so letting go of them was often painful and distressing. After all, how would I survive without them? Can I find my spiritual enlightenment and awakening in this world? Must I slay foes with my spiritual sword or am I to use it to carve my path through thickets of lies to reveal my truth?

Illusions that once secured my sanity continue to be in my way. Beliefs that I once depended upon to make decisions sway like boulders on the precipice of avalanche. How can I create the security I need to challenge these systems? Do I need a specific set of circumstances to evolve? Do I have to create the ideal set of circumstances to become enlightened? Can I use any moment to become?

It helps to have a plan – a new set of ideas, beliefs, and ways of being that I desire. I can even try them on for size and practice before I let go of the old beliefs and ways of being. I can look for ways of being outside of me that resonate with my true presence and find that talent already hidden within myself. I just have not brought that monster out to play.

I know a few people who are genuinely, innately nice. They are kind and generous with their way of being in the world. They seem broadly happy and satisfied, even when they are overcoming obstacles on their way to becoming happier. They have an attitude that I can only describe as “inquiring” when someone is angry, rude, or hostile. I have felt this way of being calling me for a long time now.

All people who come on my path are my teachers – the “good” ones along with the “bad” ones. If I recognize them and label them, then I know I am them, too. A good warrior also knows when to lay down the sword.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

the presence of frustration

May 27, 2010

Here, on my last day of focusing on who or what I am powerless over in my life, I found a mountain of frustration.

Nobody wanted to do their jobs the way I wanted them to.

Nobody wanted to take me seriously.

I finally just had to give up and walk away. Paying attention to what I am powerless over is a blended sword. In one sense, it relieves me of any responsibility for that which I cannot control and have no power over. In another sense, it shines a light on a certain kind of helplessness that could easily feed a woe-is-me attitude.

Over the course of this past week, I noticed that I have trouble paying attention to people and things I have no control over and am powerless to do anything about. I would rather focus on what I can do. I like knowing where my power carries weight.

When my frustration finally crested today, I had to stop and ask myself, “Just how much do I really care about this?”

And the answer was a simple, “not much.”

Acknowledging that I am powerless requires that I be willing to give something up. It could be illusion. It could be misplaced responsibility. It could be stubbornness (also affectionately known as tenacity).

Sometimes, surrender is a good thing.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

a moody presence

May 24, 2010

I am not paying very good attention to my powerlessness. I still have illusions about power. On my fourth day of denial, I note the following:

• The plane crash in India and the suffering of people
• A good friend of mine may have to go to Afghanistan
• Work people making demands on my time
• Whether the optometrist will hear me

Only four items? It sounds as if I live a very cloistered existence. One would think I would have an endless list by now. The plane crash in India caught my attention as do most disasters. The people on board were there willingly, for the most part. The children may not have had anything to say about it. These random incidents where many people are in the wrong place at the wrong time always make me think about our status in the universe and the guaranteed exit. Most of us will not get to choose when and how we die, and I always pause and think about the people whose lives were interrupted and ended within seconds.

Similarly, a good and dear friend of mine may have to go to Afghanistan. He is military and it is his job, and he should only be there briefly, but still . . .

Random death occurs daily in Afghanistan. Other than breaking his leg to make sure he can’t go, I am so very powerless.

So, I take revenge upon my unsuspecting co-workers. They are a good bunch overall. I enjoy my job and my workplace, but today I became aware of just how powerless I am over people who want to make demands upon my time. One or two of them take precedence, but others – well, others are just lazy and trying to get me to do what they need to do. I am slowly learning to shovel it right back in their direction, but am admittedly powerless if they get the bulldozer and plow it all back into my corner.

And then there was the benign optometrist who appears competent, but only within his known world. He had his script on what patients need and did not want to deviate from the plan. I now need to make another trip or two to get exactly what I want.

Exactly what I want . . . there are all sorts of books and conferences one can pay oodles of money to go to in order to learn how to get exactly what we want. Some suspicious part of me thinks that the only people getting exactly what they want out of those books and conferences are the people who wrote and conduct them. Moody am I today, reluctant to bid farewell to my illusions of control.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

a little bit of presence

May 21, 2010

Evidently, I am powerless over everything outside of myself and have just been in extreme denial these past 53 years . . .

But I was right about one thing!

I am totally powerful over how I respond to being powerless.

It was just like one GIANT serenity prayer today. All day long, I’m looking for stuff over which I have no power. It started with the simple acknowledgement that I am powerless over whether or not the light bulb in the bathroom goes on when I flip the switch to I am totally powerless over whether or not anyone reads this blog today. I am powerless over other drivers and realize that I blindly trust that everybody else who is driving a vehicle is driving with the collective intent that we all arrive alive. I am powerless over whether or not anyone loves me.

And, I have to confess, I have been holding out all these years. I have been peeking out from behind my illusion of total autonomous power and refusing to open myself to others or get close to very many people because, in my heart, I know I am powerless over their response to me.

Uncertain of my own personal strength, I am a little bit afraid to open myself to others and risk their response to me. But my safety is cradled in the arms of my eternal presence and forever connection to all that is. I am close to something very huge for me.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass