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Excerpts - Receiving Graciously

Excerpt from Dec 1978 Workshop in Maryland*
(*Audience participation is in parentheses--notations in brackets have been added for clarification )

[We join the workshop as Dr. Bob is answering questions from the audience]

One of the subjects of the questions I have here is that people very frequently do very wonderful things for us. How would we repay them?

Somewhere or other in the past somebody has tried to put on us, most likely, a not "I" that I am obligated to you if you do something nice for me. I think that's the way most people feel that if somebody sends you a Christmas card, now you're obligated to send them one.


They send you a gift, you gotta run out and get them one.


You must return all favors. Now if I were to do something nice for a person, regardless of who it is, I'm doing it because it gives me a nice feeling because I want to and it says "thank you" in some way or other. And then if you try to get even with me, I say you ruined my nice feeling.

If you come and do something in return so you "paid the bill", that means you have refused to "receive graciously" my gift. My gift may be a gift of time, a gift of interest or some physical something, but you have now wrecked it; because you insisted on making a "business transaction" out of it. Instead you could allow me to go ahead and "express my joy" or my wanting to say "thank you" by making some little contribution that happened to go your way.

So I think the greatest gift that you can return to someone who gave you something--or gave you a favor or a nice compliment or anything is to receive it graciously. That is the greatest giving there is, and it doesn't tear the other person's "good feeling" up.

If I were to do something for somebody the best that I could hope for is that they receive it graciously. Does that make a little sense to you?

(Yes, I like that.)

The greatest giving that you can do is even greater than what the person did--that is to "receive graciously". When you do that, you have ceased to make human relationship into a "business transaction." If I were to do something for you--I don't expect anything--I'm doing it because I want to. All you can do is to receive it graciously.

If you think, well I bet that was $25. worth of goods, and you run try to give me the $25. back in some way, I will want to kick you. I will want to swat you one--you ruined it--you "blowed" it. I had a good thing going and I was feeling so wonderful that I could do something for somebody I think a lot of and I wanted to say thank you for all sorts of things or I just give out. Then they decide to play how much value in dollars and cents it was and make a business proposition out of it, you "blowed" it.

So the greatest giving in the world is to "receive graciously." Now we're all the recipients of tremendous amounts of goodness that we didn't earn from Life--It gives us everything. And I think all we can really do for Life since It doesn't need anything--and I'm not going to try to make a dollars and cents arrangement out of it and say, "Well, I'm going to serve Life and get even with it." I'm going to receive it graciously and pass it on.

You know this business that's somebody's always saying to you every day, "Have a good day." They forgot what they're saying, but it balances out. If I Am having a good day, I would like to pass it on, not return it.

Now if you and I do something nice for each other--I always like to do something nice for you. If you sit there and do something nice for me then we're just "horse trading." But do you pass it on, it would have more meaning--pass it on.

If I give somebody out on the road that was hungry or broke thirty dollars so he could eat or spend the night in a motel and get cleaned up; and he tried to send it back to me, that's a nuisance. But if one day, he had thirty dollars and he gave it to some other guy that needed a bath and a good meal--that's passing it on.

Pass it on, don't try to return it because that kills the chain right quick.

That make any sense? Don't ever try to get even with people.