Posts Tagged ‘words’

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


the presence of art

February 8, 2011

Occasionally, a little nugget of words comes my way and strikes a little spark inside me. I read a lot, traveling roads paved with the sentences, ideas, discoveries, and conclusions of the world as seen through the eyes of others. Seeking to uncover my own undeniable truths, I sometimes find them in the most unlikely of places.

This morning I found a phrase about people turning their “lives into works of art.” I found it, of all places, in The Little Book of Atheist Spirituality by Andre Comte-Sponville. Yes, there are spiritual atheists out there, self-selected and defined, but that is not what this blog is about.

This blog is about living life as a work of art. I am immediately enchanted with the idea. Even though the author of those words was using them to describe the lives of Nietzche and Oscar Wilde as miserable delusions, I cannot help but take that phrase to the next level and be the work of art, live as if I am a delicate sculpture or a carefully crafted oil painting or the twirl of a ballerina.

What if I can construct my thoughts as if they were already Pulitzer prize-winning stories? What if I can direct my limbs as if they were a choreographed Broadway score? What if I can take my voice and create a symphony that makes me come alive with joy?

Thoughts to words.

Words to actions.

While I am seeking truth through the perception of others, I often find my own truths within the arguments of my own perceptions. I am spending these moments looking at every person, every creature as a work of art. It was no accident that a particular group of cells came together at a specific moment in time and joined with the living soul energy that now occupies that body. It was a carefully orchestrated plan that had been on the drawing board for centuries.

And each one deserves my applause.

©2011 by Barbara L. Kass

walking the talk of presence

August 1, 2010

On my computer, my background has the question: How will I bring my presence to life today?

Any day there is electricity, I read that each morning and each night (which, despite the tornado-imposed blackout of last week is just about every single day). My life pattern, though, my programming, my habitual way of responding to myself and others is my default position, and it takes effort to remember and connect with my true presence throughout all of my interactions.

Some days I feel I am only my true presence when I am reading me on paper. I talk a good walk, too. In fact, some days I talk the most marvelous walk of life. I am magnificent in my ideas, my way of being, my presentation of wisdom.

And then, I often forget these pearls of enlightenment as my daily business sweeps me away into the land of pretend. I have to stop and ask myself: Is this really me responding to life? Or, am I still being the fabrication of survival mechanics?

I need to integrate who I am in this reality of virtual paper with the reality of who I am walking through my life. I need to walk the talk.

So, the second question is: How will I bring my words to life?

I view the ideas that these words manifest as a bridge, a link, a place to comingle the internal living presence with my external manifestation. Within me, I need to live the words I write. I need to carry them, nurture them, talk with them, become them. It is the first of the Four Agreements: be impeccable with my word.

This agreement does not just apply to using my word with others. It also applies to using my word with myself. It is another habit for me to treat others better than I would treat myself. As a child, convincing me that this was the way I was supposed to be made life very convenient for my parents. Then, I figured out something. If everyone was good to themselves, they wouldn’t need other people making them feel good. That little idea landed me in the soup of selfishness. But then, I realized that the people expecting others to sacrifice themselves so that they would be happier was even more selfish. I kept that little secret to myself until I was no longer dependent upon other adults.

Truly living the talk, bringing my words to life, requires that I apply them to all equally, including myself.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

Toltec presence

May 3, 2010

In his latest book, The Fifth Agreement, don Miguel Ruiz shares with us Toltec wisdom. Toltec means artist. We are artists of everything: our words, our wisdom, our spirits, our truths . . . in other words, our lives.

When I came across this definition in his book, I became enamored of the idea that not only am I the creator of my own existence, I am the artist as well. I can color my world, shape my thoughts, design my interactions, and even critique the results. To be an artist means to take creation one step further after invention.

I can speak and write words. I can call something or someone beautiful, and people will know that I appreciate what I see. However, I can call that same thing or person enchanting, and suddenly people know not only do I consider them beautiful, but also how their beauty affects me.

In creating my world, I know I need to take care with my word in how I describe what I view, my interactions with others, and myself. My life is a canvas on which I paint words, thoughts, and actions. How I color them, the shape and form they take, and how I choose for them to affect me is my choice.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

Listen to the story

April 11, 2010

We all need to tell our story.

I wake up all the time with stories about the earth, people, events, animals, the great beyond. I am not clever enough to think of this stuff on my own. I know they gotta be coming from somewhere.

Sometimes, I am just driving to work listening to music and BANG — there is this story idea or an essay that starts unraveling in my head and it is all I can do to not stop right there in the middle of the road and start writing it down. Other times, it happens when I am walking in the woods close to where I live (at least then I am smart enough to carry a pen and notepad with me). While I don’t drive mindlessly, my route is so well-known to me that I am autopilot much of the time. The same occurs during my walk in the woods. Some part of my brain becomes free to receive, imagine, and play.

I think (and I have had concurrence from my friends on this) that it is Spirit, the One, the whole that we all are, talking to me. I don’t think these are all just my stories and ideas. I feel connected with a spirit, a source that is more than just me when I am writing. I feel that someone “out there” is waiting to read what I write. Just like I read what other people write and get that little light bulb in the head effect or realize some ultimate truth within myself in another person’s words, I could be that channel for others, too.

I get a feeling that something wants to be said and needs my hand to say it. I think that is the presence of Spirit asking to be heard. You’ve been hearing Spirit, too, and are acting on it, which makes it doubly important to listen. Written words allow us a special connection to each other. The written word lasts much longer than the spoken word and can always be revisited and reinterpreted. The spoken word tells a story that may not ever be undone. There is no way to recapture words spoken. They are out there to tell their story. The written word allows us time to pause in telling our stories, to stop and actually listen to the story we are telling so that we can tell it in the spirit it is intended. If you ever start telling yourself a story in your head, stop and write it down. Then examine it for the message Spirit is giving you.  

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass