“What do we take for granted that we already have?”

After the hurricane Ian resulted in a flood in my community, I lived in a 16 ft. camper in my driveway with the bare necessities.

After 9 months of renovations, with the kitchen finally workable, I was able to get a plate (not paper) from the cabinet, heat a frozen chicken sandwich in the microwave (without the breaker going off), get a knife (not plastic) to cut the sandwich, get a true glass from the cabinet (no flimsy plastic) and finally pour fresh milk from a half gallon container and carry these to a real desk and continue my work – all the while realizing that these simple things had been denied me for the preceding months.

Sometimes it’s the little things that make us appreciate the more complete picture and being without for a long period of time can make us realize all the daily activities and conveniences we take for granted.

So for a while we’ll be filled with gratitude and then we’ll forget. 

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The Parable of Tidbit

One day Tidbit, our precious cat, discovered the front door open and as cats are known to be curious, he went outside to explore; but there was terrible noises of saws and lawn mowers that scared him so he ran for protection through lattice work under the porch.

As luck would have it, night fell and Tidbit was unable to sound his predicament. In the morning we heard his pitiful meows and discovered him under the wood porch.

We tried to call him out; but he was steeped in fear perhaps even unable to find where he entered.  We made a hole in the lattice work so he could see how to get out; but our effort was to no avail.  Next we tried food and water outside the hole; but all we got was more plaintiff cries.

We sat on the porch in different areas and always the meows were directly beneath us. He wanted to be with us, but didn’t know how to free himself.

Again we went to the hole and after a time, he poked his head out and even came out completely; but we couldn’t pick him up because he can’t stand being held so now he was really in an impossible situation. He hated the leaves and dirt on his paws and who knows what else; but he also couldn’t be saved because he couldn’t stand being carried!

My teacher suggested somewhere in the 48 tapes that we write parables so that we could understand other stories and allegories that have been passed down through the ages like fairy tales and Aesop’s fables. So I realized that Tidbit’s dilemma was a beautiful demonstration of how we wrap ourselves in a self-made prison.

If we work the teaching ideas, it is possible that we may find ourselves trapped in our minds with assumptions, opinions, conclusions and misinformation that we are unable to question and challenge!

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Trading Places

I have on occasion thought about each person in my world.

I might see that they have more in intelligence (Well, I think that) or they might be able to see, or they might be able to drive a car and go where they want when they want, or they might have more education such as college, or they might play piano or sing better than me (Well, I think that too when I compare) or I think they have a happier marriage or they’re alone and don’t have to please or answer to a spouse.

If I really delve into this little idea, I don’t really know the childhood they had—even if they give it to me in great detail.  I don’t know what they struggle with in all the areas of life or what’s pervading their minds or what physical pain they either have had are having or will have. 

When I compare, I’m only looking at what I think they have that I don’t have; and I discount or don’t know the hardships they have had or are having.

It all comes down to……………………………would I trade places with them?  And WITHOUT EXCEPTION, I’ve always said “NO!”   When it gets right down to the nitty gritty, I want to be just where I am – not in the past (because I’d have to do exactly what I did then because that was the only light I had at that time).  I wouldn’t want to be in the future because I wouldn’t have the wisdom of what Life is teaching me today. 

So after that little exercise; I think I could find many circumstances, people and things to be thankful for!

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Being of Service

Yesterday I had a call from a friend of 50 years who is now 91 and bedridden. He asked me to play and sing to him. He has always been special to me because he encouraged my career in music. But even more special, we began the 48 Teaching tapes together many years ago. (You can find them on this website.)

So I played and sang Danny Boy in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, which is coming soon. He said it made him cry. I asked, “Bad cry or good cry?” He said, “Good cry.” So I sang a myriad of songs and styles for which he was very thankful. An idea from the Teachings came to mind about “being of service.” 

I presented the question, “What does being of service mean to you?” to other people I knew in the Teaching. One said that doing the dishes and cleaning the house was a way of being of service, though it probably isn’t normally thought of that way.

Another said calling and listening to someone who lives alone is being of service. 

Another said saying “No” can be of service. You can ponder on that one because it seems like it could never be considered as a service; however, if someone asks me for money over and over but is quite capable of working and earning a living, it may be of service to say no. It increases their necessity to be responsible for themselves.

Some have the ability to find humor in just about every situation. So, to me, they are being of service by giving me the option of seeing that everything might not be as serious as I am seeing it.

I see watering and fertilizing my garden and caring for my cat as being of service. The list is as long as you care to explore in your daily activities.

The thought popped up, “What’s the benefit to me?”

I’ve had people tell me that they like to “help” people. Dr. Bob distinguished between helping and “making a little contribution,” another way of saying “being of service.” He pointed out that in order to “help,” one has to see oneself as being elevated above the other. “Helping” gives a good feeling, but isn’t that temporary?

As I’ve studied the Teachings, I have found that being of service gets my attention directed outward. 

When my attention is directed outward, I’m not concentrating on what I don’t have – like more money or a better mate or a different car or more attention and approval, thinking I would be satisfied and permanently happy if I had all I wanted.

One can ask self, “What more do I want or need?” Think… possessions, titles, fulfillment of our desires, as well as all the other things we crave. When we center in on ourselves and what we don’t have, we entrench ourselves in depression, want, anger, frustration and many other unpleasant emotions.

How many ways can you turn your attention outward and be of service today?

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Objective does not have emotions tied to it.

I was introduced to the teachings in 1975. As I studied, I came across the term “surrender” and it raised the question “What do I surrender to?” Through the years I’ve discovered that many times it’s impossible to understand the teaching idea presented until some time has passed and there’s a place or circumstance that clarifies. This school is very different from the public schools we attended wherein we read assignments, took tests and recited back the material studied to the teacher hoping for a good grade. So I learned to not make it important to understand every idea at once – to let it go for a while. There is always plenty that can be worked with during the interim.

One of the teaching cards which you can find previously presented on the blog says this: 


We cease to think we know what ought to be. 

Here’s another version:

Surrender to what is….
Surrender to what people are….
Surrender to what I am…..

Surrender our desire for certainty
Surrender the need for safety
Surrender what “I know”
Surrender what “I know is right”

Along with this, I’d like to say that there’s a certain story I love from the “Caravan of Dreams” by Idries Shah called “The Princess of the Water of Life”. You can find it on the internet.  It’s a beautiful teaching story.

The main phrase in the story is “perhaps something may come of it.” As I’ve told the story, I’ve found some who don’t know what a djinn is. It’s an Arabian mythical creature that is able to take on a human or animal shape and is mischievous.

So I have combined that phrase with “surrender” and another idea from Dr. Bob — “I live in what I radiate”  If I’m not always trying to “get something” or “make it come to me” or control people and circumstances, I can work with seeing what’s going on and what I can do.

Recently I had musicians come to my house to jam. It just seemed like fun. The jobs are few for jazz musicians; but we want to keep our “chops up” (technique), be with like-minded musicians and play the music we love following all the aloneness and separation from the pandemic.

I asked a New York jazz pianist I met recently to come play Wednesdays at my house along with an amateur drummer I had worked with for eight years.  After a year of Covid, no gigs, and moving to Florida, the NY piano player decided to learn upright bass and needed someone to play piano. That was me – yay!  Then he invited a jazz guitar player he knew which added depth to the sound.  

The drummer abruptly decided to quit because he found other interesting things to do; so I had the opportunity to “surrender” what I considered   “ought to be”. Then I remembered a really good jazz drummer from our area; and he not being busy either, acquiesced to join us. The jam just got better and better. 

Later the jazz drummer brought in a well-known bass player on Thursdays so the NY musician could stretch out on my grand.  For that day I sat back, listened and just had a grin on my face for two hours.

And so with all these changes going on, I can  say I experienced the “Something may come from it.”  The “something” could just be musicians introduced to each other or keeping the “chops up” and/or learning from each other. So if we get a gig all the better; but if not, we had the creative endeavor and enjoyment of each other and the music.  

We can make a purpose to radiate out a good mood and perhaps some skill we’ve developed and use it in service to the community and others. Then we can watch, observe and see “what something can come from it” – could be something quite amazing, be to our advantage and also quite delightful in the process.  Happy comes in moments — it’s a temporary state of being that we can create through our own efforts.

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Brazil Experiment with Babies

Study on attention

[From Marsha…I’ve heard a lot of controversial advice about attention given in raising children through the years like “Don’t give the kids too much attention because you’ll spoil them.” or “It’s bad to let them show off.”  Later it became “Don’t break their little spirit” which came to mean let them do whatever they want which I observed led to entitlement and inability to consider others. I’m sure you have many of your own “passed down’ suggestions from parents, peers and other sources.

The teachings talk about the four dual basic urges and how we continually want to gain attention which results in many unconscious things we say and do to get it – some who have money even try to buy attention through parties and gifts.

On the other side of the four dual basic urges, It mentions wanting to escape being ignored or rejected; and how we react to what people say and do believing that they are putting us down when often it was never meant that way.

The teachings also say wanting attention is not bad or good, it’s just what goes on in the manmade world. When we’re aware of the unconscious urge, we can wake up. One small way I saw to get in charge of my inner state was to not expect people to remember my birthday. So I just take care of that myself by doing something special for me that I wouldn’t ordinarily do.

Below is more descriptions of occurrences that have happened in the past from a workshop called Santa Cruz 71 found in the CD’s from Jim Wilson on the website under links.  Dr. Bob begins…]

The ancient Chinese have a method of punishment that they refer to as ostracism.  In a given village if a person didn’t play by the rules the village had set out, they met together and decided that he was worthy of ostracism possibly.  If they found him worthy of ostracism, he could walk into a teahouse and nobody saw him.  He could walk down the street and nobody spoke to him.  Nobody said a word.  If he went into a food supply place, nobody could see him – they just acted like he wasn’t there.  In other words, he was totally being ignored.  This was equivalent to a death sentence because the man usually didn’t survive very long under it. 

A few years ago an experiment was run in Brazil with a big orphanage which they didn’t seem to have too many compunctions about.  They took 300 infants that were admitted to the orphanage – just infants.  All 300 received a very balanced diet as best could be determined by the best physicians available.  Each were given clean clothes and clean beds to sleep in. 

The difference was that 150 of the babies were picked up and cuddled and suckled and so forth by some lady at least one hour everyday – about four 15-minute sessions. 

The others were only given the essentials of care – no attention. They were bathed, but that was all.  There was no cuddling or anything, they were bathed as efficiently as possible. 

At the end of one year of the 150 who were being cuddled and petted every day, two had died. 

Of the 150 who had been just taken care of efficiently, 70 some odd had died – almost 50 percent. 

At the end of the second year, only 15 of the “efficiently cared for” were alive; and 144 were alive of the group that had been given attention. 

So a psychologist came up with a statement that we must have attention in order to survive and we must have approval in order to thrive.  Kind of makes a little rhyme and is somewhere pretty close to right. 

Some attention to the baby can be just scoldin’ : “Don’t do that!  – “Now get away from that!” That’s at least getting some kind of attention.  Now he would, of course, rather have approval, but he’s at least getting attention that way. 

He would love to have approval at a certain stage of his development; and he must have approval or he will be very uncomfortable; and one of the more painful things we can think of is disapproval; and the disapproval we like least is that which is directed at number one – me.  That right?  I can stand your disapproval of others; I don’t like it, but when it gets to this one, that’s really painful.  

[Here’s the statistics easier to see.]

300 infants in Brazilian orphanage

A group: 150 babies were regularly cuddled/petted for 4 x 15 minutes every day

B group: 150 only given essential care

After 1 year

From A group only 2 infants died (1.3 %)

From B group 70 + died  (almost 50 %)

After 2nd year

From A group 144 babies were alive that is 96% survived

From B group only 15 infants were alive.  That is 10 % survived.

[From Marsha…In studying the tapes since 1975 I’ve heard many workshops where Dr. Bob made comments about this subject.

He has said that if we want attention, we can just ask for it. Imagine that! My cat has figured that out – he just rolls over and has a cute little meow. I can’t turn that down.  He’s got his mood up!  I have tried asking for attention and it worked – the trick for me is to be free to be rejected if it should occur. It’s a pretty good bet, though, that most will come through in some way, shape or form.

He also said that to “give attention” is very worthwhile. Everyone needs it, yet we forget not only to give attention but also appreciation. It is an activity that doesn’t cost us anything, and yet is very effective in connecting with people.

With 2020 and the pandemic, the devastation of the lack of giving and receiving attention was felt by everyone. I heard from many who live alone saying how difficult it was without human touch to the point of descending into self-pity and depression. The pandemic has made people afraid of each other; and it will take awareness and courage to bridge the gap that has occurred to bring all of us together again.]

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