Posts Tagged ‘self’

The presence of experience

October 9, 2013

You cannot create experience. You must undergo it. Albert Camus

Before humans could write and read we learned through witnessing and listening. As witnesses, we saw what others experienced, and (hopefully) we learned vicariously. When we witnessed someone become ill from eating the strange red berries, we were not likely to eat those berries. We listened (again hopefully) when our parents and elders passed along knowledge and wisdom with the spoken word: don’t poke the sleeping tiger.

The written word expands our worlds. All the red berries have warning labels and the sleeping tigers have awakened. If we want to know about Subject X, the most expedient method is to look it up on the Internet. Sometimes, we can watch a film or talk to a subject expert, but the cheapest and quickest way to learn anything is to read. The written word saved my sanity as a child. Books were my lifeline to the world beyond the one I was confined to then, and I wanted to experience all of it.

The short 90 or so years that I will be on this planet will not satisfy my desire for discovery, and I am nearly two-thirds of the way to my expiration date. As I weed my way through what I am willing to experience, death has become my azimuth. Years ago, some therapists told me that this was a problem so I “worked” on it, but now, I find that it has served me well. Keeping my eye on death causes me to embrace my eternal presence – the part of me that will continue when my body no longer exists. Who I become now I take with me into eternity. What I experience helps me evolve into who I become.

Countless words exist of people’s tales detailing their journeys of how they became who they are. There are hundreds of methods and paths to self-discovery. I’ve read the books and blogs of people who appear to have blazed the trails to enlightenment and ultimate universal connection. I’ve prayed their prayers. I’ve practiced their meditations. I’ve repeated their mantras.

Yes, I’ve grown. I’ve become. I’ve discovered. I’ve experienced. But, I’ve not achieved the measure of conscious embodiment their words have described. I’ve failed to mirror their success and wonder why.

In my efforts to master the experience of Centering Prayer, I read Thomas Keating’s book Manifesting God. If you read his book, you can’t but help but hear Keating’s voice and feel his experience with God. In a moment of clarity, some small still voice inside me said: “these words describe how it is for him, but not necessarily how it is for you.” Keating can only describe his process, not mine. He cannot live my experience any more than I can live his.

Words and books cannot create my experience. Living creates experience.

The experience I seek is to be fully alive as my true self in this life.

Only my presence can create that experience.

©2013 by Barbara L. Kass

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Observing presence

October 13, 2011

There are three of me.

One is the persona I wear for external exhibition. This is the one who has a tendency to act impulsively and to demonstrate emotional outbursts. She is also the one who guards and protects, reacting from an instinct as ancient as the stars.

One is the director of that persona. My external persona checks in often with the director, asking questions like “Is this an appropriate time for an expletive?” The director runs instantaneous, faster-than-light assessments that take into account all possible responses and all possible (as well as a few impossible) consequences of those responses. The director judges and determines right and wrong, good and bad, and what is worthy and a waste of my time. And my external persona complies with those directions . . . usually.

The third persona watches them both. It is the presence that I claim as eternal – the one who simultaneously has the wisdom of heaven and all the innocence of a child. This presence does not worry about outcomes, time, the past, or the future for it exists in the eternal present. This presence knows it will always exist.

Some would call it a higher self. This is the part of me that stands back and observes. While I might name this presence feminine, my experience is that being is genderless. This self observes me in all my witless gyrations and struggles to make it through life intact. All that am learning and becoming manifests within this eternal presence. Who I become in this life is who I will carry with me into the next existence. It does not matter who I used to be. What matters is who I am right now.

Sometimes I become four of me.

Occasionally, I become a presence that is a full integration of these three selves . . . a whole being who is completely present and fearless. For an instant, I am tremendously aware that I am this peaceful, tranquil being on the forever journey of becoming. In the next instant, I fragment again into my individual personas and watch myself remember who I truly am.

©2011 Barbara L. Kass

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 disguise

April 18, 2011

I’ve been hidden from view for most of my life. Nobody really knows who I am. I am so good at disguise that I often do not know who I am.

In my childhood world, revealing one’s true self brought about punishment and familial exile. It is not surprising that I chose to live in disguise. I made that decision over 45 years ago and I don’t remember the incident that crystallized my reality. I do remember being 5 or 6 years old, sitting outside on the sidewalk in front of my family’s house, knowing with full recognition and ancient wisdom, that my life was crappy and it was going to be a long, long time before I could do anything about it. In that crystalline moment, I saw the years ahead of me before I would reach adulthood. To survive my childhood and become an adult, I knew I would have to hide who I truly was, not only from my parents, but from everyone else, including myself.

I don’t remember anyone ever asking me what I wanted to be when I grew up, but I know my answer would have been “alive.”

Years of disguise become tiresome and genuine disclosure of self (even if only to myself) brings relief and the realization that I can choose to reveal or not reveal. I learned that I had to reveal something or else unconscious people (which is pretty much everybody not reading this blog) would project whatever they were feeling at the moment on to me. They would declare me as being a certain way and then act shocked, surprised, and deceived when I would resist their label and often prove them wrong.

Such a way of being in the world did not bring about lasting and supportive relationships.

I learned to extend my boundary and to reel it in depending upon my safety within any specific relationship. I learned to wear the persona of “what would work best here?” In my employment, I have had numerous supervisors who I thought were complete idiots, yet they never knew (and probably still do not know . . . again, they are not reading this blog!). Such people have often written me glowing letters of recommendation.

But there comes a time when the disguises need to be put away and brought out only upon specific special occasions. I am learning to live from my truest presence, trusting my wisdom to be wholly who I am, choicefully revealing my thoughts and feelings when appropriate. And, my true presence would always choose honesty dressed in a way so as not to bring harm to another.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

©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

the disappearing presence

July 19, 2010

In yesterday’s blog at Speaking from the Heart, Laurie talked about death just being another step along the continuum of our existence. Intellectually, most people know that they will die. Emotionally, we wreck ourselves out of fear of dying, and we are programmed to avoid death as long as possible. The problem is that when we live out of fear of dying, we don’t really live. When we live out of knowing we will die, life takes on all new meaning.

So, I pondered this dilemma as I am apt to do on a Sunday when life is good and pleasant and I kept asking myself: what do I want to take with me in the ethereal energy that will leave this body? In these 50-odd years, I have created all sorts of energies and ways of being that I define as “me.” Some of them are pretty nifty: perseverance, generosity, understanding, and this quirky sense of blending the properties of the physical world.

For example, Laurie mentioned just a few of the thousands of ways to die like accidents, heart attacks, and being eaten by sharks (okay, she didn’t mention that last one).

Me . . . I think I would like to die of evaporation. Yep. I just want to go up in a blaze of vapor and disappear. Forget the body leftover, all that funeral stuff, people dribbling past the casket saying “she looks SO natural!”

Bleah.

I want people saying “where the heck did she go?”

I want to be the mystery woman. I am not at all mysterious in life. I am just kind of out there with my tongue tripping over my words, bumping into walls, taking life a bit too seriously, and probably taking on more than my fair share of responsibility.

I seek what I am not, though. I travel through my days and nights searching out this mystery of life, finding my own truths, and connecting with my true presence. The biggest mystery, of course, is where will I go and what will I be when I die? I’ve come to a truth for myself that I will take with me all that I have become. We all came to this earth with unlimited potentialities of defining the energy that we describe as “self.”

I just have to decide what self I want to live with forever.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

attached presence

July 7, 2010

What happens if you don’t turn out the way you think you should?

Reading today’s Spirituality & Health Newsletter about attachment and non-attachment gave me the thought that I generally relate attachment to material things, events, outcomes, and other people. I don’t often think of being attached to myself. I am not sure it is possible to be non-attached to self.

We are eternally attached to presence – the presence that has always existed and always will. I have always felt that I (as my eternal presence) came to this human existence to evolve, become, learn, grow, and leave being more than I was when I came here. I have my imaginary eye set on a picture of myself being fully integrated as I conceive that concept.

What happens if I don’t make it happen before I die? What happens if I am not the presence I think I should be at any given time? Do I detach from self and give up?

I know that many people try to detach from self by choosing to be unconscious and unaware. Even though life calls them time after time to pay attention to self, take care of self, be one with self, they insist instead on focusing on control of their external environment. They work hard to control other people, gain notoriety, and amass bundles of wealth. Their never-ending goal is continuing to be who they imagine they are and they will go to great lengths to maintain that illusion.

I set my presence aside as I was growing up because in my child’s wisdom I knew it was better to detach from self and survive than to stay attached to the self who was struggling to become and be abandoned and die. I required my parents’ love and acceptance to stay alive and I bought it with self-abandonment.

My eternal presence did not abandon me, but instead remained quietly attached to my soul and occasionally poked me to remind me that I was still alive and that childhood dependency would end. I began my quest to become who I truly am on my 18th birthday. Many, many things in my life have not turned out the way I imagined they would (or should). I discovered only within the past few years that staying attached to outcomes of anything outside of myself cost me dearly and were really serving only as distractions to keep me from paying attention to myself. I have no more right to determine how anything outside of me should be than anyone else.

But me . . . I have every right to determine how I will be in the world and that is to live fully as the presence I always have been and always will be. The wisdom of my life’s lessons is to step out of my own way and let go of the attachment to how I imagine I should be.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

Self-help vs. Ways of Being

June 7, 2010

In a recent conversation about don Miguel Ruiz’s book, The Four Agreements, a friend described the book as being in the “self-help” category and claimed that if self-help books worked, we would need only one. This person’s argument was that because there are endless self-help books being written and published, that is evidence that they don’t work and never will.

I never thought of The Four Agreements as a self-help book. I think of the book Heal Your Headache as a self-help book. (If you suffer from migraines, fibromyalgia, constant headaches, neuralgia, or any other chronic illness that is ill-defined and for which you cannot find relief, read that book. It will save your sanity.)

But I digress.

I view The Four Agreements more as a ways of being in the world than self-help. Similar to Viktor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning, Ruiz writes with a stream of consciousness style that sounds as if it comes directly from his experience. The four agreements are: be impeccable with your word, don’t take anything personally, don’t make assumptions, and always do your best. On the surface, they sound like advice your parents would give you. To live them honestly, though, one must translate that advice to a way of personal being in the world.

That’s the tricky part.

Exactly how can I be impeccable with my word? What does that mean? Does that mean I have to tell the truth ALL the time? How can I not take what happens to me personally? Don’t make assumptions about anything? Really? Anything? And that part about doing my best, well, at least Ruiz makes some allowance for the fact that there are different levels of “best” depending on how my life is going at the moment.

Even if it were a “self-help” book, the application would be the same which is why I think the more books that are written, the more information that is shared, the more we know of the experience of others, the more common ground we can find and the less alone we are. Everyone writes their book from their own personal experience and way of being in the world. They are telling us “this worked for me; it might work for you, but you have to make it yours.”

And that is about as impeccable as I can be in this moment.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass