Author of the book, "Standing Tall: The Marvel of Our Existence is Incredible"

2014 March Newsletter #238 What’s Going On?




In as much as conflict is the human problem we will take it under three different names: Conflict; struggle; resistance. So we resist doing certain things. We resist things being like they are. We resist situations. Consequently we feel all torn up. I happen to be in the field of endeavor (whether I like it or not) of listening to people’s problems. Every problem people call about, and they call from all over the United States, it is they are struggling to get something they don’t have or they think they would want or to do or have, or a situation they want a certain way and it’s not that way and would I please make it that way for them. They want this but they don’t want this. Conflict is a very easy thing to have, apparently. You can call it conflict, struggle and resistance, which is the attempt to get from ‘what is’ to what I believe ought to be, should be, must be, has to be.

‘What is’ the reality and I find nothing wrong with it. What is wrong with ‘what is’? What’s wrong with things as they are? What you are is a living being and you experience your own inner state of being everyday. If your inner state is serene or peaceful or happy or joyful, you had a wonderful day. You have an ideal, which says what you have to have in order to be happy. Happiness is when you like ‘what is’. If you don’t like ‘what is’, you’re not happy. What is that has to be changed in order for a person to be serene and peaceful inside?

So if we look at what ought to be, what should be and what must be, you I will find that those are things that somebody told you or taught you along the way that things should be different. Things will never be different than what they are at the moment. It’s always now and it’s always ‘what is’. I don’t see anything that needs to be changed in it.





Most of us get so we are concerned about making a decision. The misconception is that if I were clear enough I’d know how to do it immediately. The usual way to make a decision is to gain as much data as possible.   Now if there isn’t any data, you don’t make a decision. You run an experiment. In an experiment, one has to be absolutely free to fizzle, to fail. Now the first rule that comes along if you’re interested in being successful at anything, whether it is in being a healer, or being spiritually evolved, or making millions of dollars, is to be free to fail. If you’re not free to fail, you can’t function. You’re trying to find all the ways to be safe. I can’t think of anything that there isn’t some risk involved. If you’re not free to fail, there is no possibility of functioning. We can all say if we want to succeed in whatever we’re doing, and it doesn’t matter whether it is painting a picture, or writing a story, or making a lot of money, or inventing something or running a business, the first necessity is that we are free to fail. Then you’re free to go ahead and do it. But if you’re not free to fail, you’ll have to take so many precautions you’ll never get it done….

….If you haven’t done it before, there’s apt to be a feeling of fear. If you’re perfectly free to fizzle, it’ll work all right. But you don’t like to be embarrassed. So then you wouldn’t do anything that might result in you being embarrassed. That’s a big limitation. If you’re free to be embarrassed, then you could do about anything. You find that you have ten thousand times more ability than you did when you were trying to be free of it.

Fear is assuming you know the course of future events.





When we make things important we create conflict within ourselves. No matter what comes, whether you like it or don’t like it, it’s going to pass. We do know that. We could say that almost any event that comes along: It came to pass. That’s the only thing it’s guaranteed to do—is pass. So there’s no use in getting all in an uproar over it, because it’s going to be gone real soon…..

….To go from chaos to order there must be a real Teaching. Not just a teaching. A real Teaching creates order from disorder by awakening a conscious objective awareness. Now those are all adjectives. Conscious means you know what you’re doing and that you’re doing it at the time. It is objective, which means you see everything without relating it to self or without judging it as good or bad, right or wrong, according to your tastes. All these opposite adjectives like right, wrong, good, bad, pretty and ugly are all subjective and are judgments. They are based on my subjective feelings. They are the feeling they give me….. So, a Teaching that is worthwhile has to take us to the point of being objective and not subjective. All subjective material is only relating my feeling. An objective point of awareness has to arise in all this disorder. We’ve got to be objective. And it’s got to be conscious and it’s got to be aware. There is no other place to start……..We take on description for a little while if we would like to create a little real order out of chaos. We start first with being purely objective. Objective adjectives are not in the form of opposites. We have a very old story that said that mankind started off in a wonderful state of being in a delightful garden and everything was just hunky-dory. And it says they fell. The reason they fell from that state into chaotic conditions was because they chose to eat from a tree called the tree of knowledge of good and evil. In other words, they started fiddling with opposites, which are purely subjective and no longer were they objective and so mankind has been continuing that for as many ages as we have been able to read about. Consequently, the chaos is still going on. But it could end anytime for any individual when you say you are no longer going to be subjective to it by comparing it to an ideal of the four dual basic urges. You are going to look at things as they are and describe them as they are.

The point of awareness gives birth to a real I, not a bunch of Not-I’s. The real I creates a conscious frame of awareness, or a conscious frame of reference that is purely objective. Has nothing to do with how I feel about it, whether I like it or I don’t like it. A conscious frame of reference creates a new purpose. You can’t have a new purpose just because you think, “I’d like that one.” And just up from it in the middle of a chaos and try to start a purpose. It won’t work. You have to get a little objective before you can even have a new purpose. Otherwise the old four dual basic urges are going to be the purpose. You’ve just found a new way to try to approach it.




Attention is the first beginning of truly being conscious. Attention is when one decides to make a little point of awareness in self. It is the beginning of building what some people have

called a soul or fully integrating all parts of one’s self into one unit. So attention is the deliberate effort to pay particular attention to anything and everything around. And ordinarily is must start with being free to pay attention without any condemnation or justification…. without finding fault or without approving or anything else. . There was no judgment of it. It is a

statement. So at first there is the observer and the observed. So the observer is the point of awareness and it begins to pay attention to everything else that’s going on in the self.

And when we get so we can pay attention to it gradually all that which we’re paying attention to becomes more a part of the center of awareness or the point of awareness in the

self and it grows. So eventually the observer and the observed become one.   And at that time you are fully in charge of whatever’s going on inside or usually outside the body and the mind and the emotions, and etc. You’re fully in charge.

So to be in charge one starts simply today with being a point of awareness. And as that point of awareness is exercised it grows. And as it grows it takes over. My job is an observer as a point of awareness. And as it grows you begin to find: My major occupation is to be aware. Pay attention to what’s going on within and without.

So we can wake up whenever we really want to. Granted, it’s a little bit of an

effort, sometimes. But we can do it. And if our interest in being a fully integrated,

conscious being, a whole person instead of a bunch of fragments in this skin, it probably is the easiest and most direct way to go about it. It’s not the only way, but it’s the easiest and the most direct way…… is to take charge and be the attention. It is simple. Didn’t say it was easy.   But it’s extremely worthwhile. …



Reflections of Donna Lancaster by Tanya Sulak

Presented at Donna’s Memorial Service, March 29, 2014


What big shoes to fill! Many times in the past few weeks I’ve had thought after thought to share with everyone about Donna and yet when I started to put them on paper each time I was overwhelmed. So last Monday I loaded up my laptop and went to Donna’s home to conduct an experiment. I thought that while sitting in her little rocker, watching a sunset, I might scratch the surface of speaking a tad bit about this marvelous woman we were so blessed to share this journey with. Following is the result of my experiment. And, yes, it was a beautiful sunset.

Donna many times started her talks sharing a story of her completing her application to attending Kansas University. The application asked for the name of someone to contact in case of emergency. Donna listed her dad, Virgil, as this person. Following on the application was the space requesting the relationship of the contact person. In this space Donna put “satisfactory.” I’m sure you will agree that just like mine, your relationship with Donna was far above “satisfactory.” Knowing Donna changed so many aspects of my life and all in the most positive ways.


I was reminded of a story about a little boy sitting in church with his mom. He pointed to the beautiful stained glass windows and said to her, “Look, mom. It’s a saint.” Mom was very impressed that he knew it was a saint and asked how he knew. His reply was, “Because a saint is one the light shines through.” Donna was not a saint yet the light did shine through her, brilliantly, just like in the beautiful sunsets she so dearly loved. A week or so before she left, we were sitting in her living room watching one of these glorious sunsets and she said she’d like to get strong enough to play bridge at least one time a week and get back to more visits with her friends. She then paused and looked around the room filled with the most beautiful ivies and other plants ever,lovely paintings, stained glass pieces and art work made by dear friends, and then out across the lake and said, “But if not, this is not a bad deal.” Of course, you know that was said with that radiant grin and those cute little things she did with her hand and eyes.

Donna has many circles of friends. And most of her friends are in different circles yet we all share a common bond that links us together as we journey through life with Donna as our common denominator. Why did it feel so good to be in one of Donna’s circle of friends? Without a doubt it was because she loved us unconditionally. “Everyone is doing what they feel is right, proper and/or justifiable at the moment” was not just a nice thought to Donna. She walked the walk. Did she stumble and stray from the path at times? Of course, yet her aim was always to remain a conscious, aware person. Practicing non-judgment was always utmost in her mind.


She would say, “Always take the high road when confronted with a situation with your fellow man. ALWAYS, no matter what you may think or feel. It is the road to take.”

Donna devoted a large portion of her life to her honored commitment to Al-Anon and also to the Teaching Ideas by Rhondell. These ideas are also chapter titles to her last book, Standing Tall. They are ideas to check out, experiment with and see if they have value to your life. She spent countless hours sharing these ideas in monthly newsletters, on her web-site, visits with friends in her home and other groups, and in the two books she wrote, The Short and Tall of It and Standing Tall.


Donna never asked, suggested, implied, recommended or anything of that nature that anyone believe that anything she shared was the right way or the only way. When asked, and only when asked, she excitedly shared what she had learned and how it had changed her life. She’d say, “Run an experiment, check it out, see if it is valid and has value to your life.” “Have to,” “ought to,” “should” were not a part of Donna’s vocabulary and she was quick to point it out to those close to her if was a part of theirs! No whining allowed! was a favorite expression and on post-it notes all around Donna’s home.


On a card posted by Donna’s computer were these ideas she found to have great value: “Northing happens by chance.” “We don’t know what ought to be.” “Everything has value when we are conscious enough to see it.” And again, “Everyone is doing what they feel is right, proper or justifiable with what light they have.” She would always add to that, “If they could do better at that moment, they would.”


She also had these notes close to her keyboard:

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a broken fan belt or a leaky tire.

Never test the depth of the water with both feet.

If you think nobody cares if you’re alive, try missing a couple of car payments.

If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.

Some days you are the bug, some days you are the windshield!

Her sense of humor was delightful, amused us and entertained us frequently. And also by her keyboard was a picture of her with Dr. Bob Gibson, her Teacher, and my grandson, Harper; her two favorite guys in the world!


For the past six months or so Donna kept a list on her clipboard beside her little rocker. Everyday she’d update Wesley and me, and I’m sure others, too, on her newest find. She was observing in our world situation happenings, things she saw as a click up.” What did “click up” mean to Donna? To follow suit with her positive outlook on life, she was looking, and sometimes had to look very hard, to find those things happening in our community, in our world, that indicated mankind was becoming even just a “click up” to having compassion for one another without judgment of any sort. Sort of like something we might all recognize, “Do unto others as you would have them. do unto you.” “Love one another as I have loved you.” She was having so much fun with this and we shared her enthusiasm. We were excited to see what today’s click-up might be. Sometimes it was political, sometimes personal, sometimes local, some times worldwide. Wherever, whenever something occurred that demonstrated caring, compassion, unconditional love, non-judgment, a little more kindness than necessary, and Donna was aware of it, it went on her click-up list. What a great way to fill your day!


Some know better than others, yet it probably was an underlying knowing to many also, that Donna loved President Obama. This love was not born out of politics. It was not about her political choices or even about the man, although she did respect and care deeply for him. For Donna his election was a “click-up”. To her it symbolized change; just a little shift in our world. Election night for Donna was electrifying because it was a moment in time when around the world joy resounded stronger than hatred. She wept each time she spoke of it, even very recently.

She didn’t openly talk about this. She was not a person of confrontation. She didn’t make a big deal of our her differences of thought, especially if she was not asked and she knew it was the direct opposite of what someone else felt was right, proper and justifiable.


She had pages of these “click-ups” on her clipboard. After a bit I realized she must have tossed it and I laughed out loud knowing she wanted me to make my own list. I’ve started my list. Most recently, and I’m sure she would agree, I’d put on my list all the “kindness more than necessary” I’ve received from all the folks that I don’t even know and those who I do know, too, that have sent their deep love and support.


The news of Donna’s passing has resounded around the world, wonderful stories of love, joy, compassion, triumph and on and on and on. Donna is at the top of my “click up” list and I’m sure yours too. Please join me in carrying on the “click-up” experiment. It could have value beyond what we can imagine.


While sitting in her bed in the hospital the day she made the decision to stop all medical testing, etc., and come home with hospice care, she asked I tell everyone this:


“No one has walked a mile in my moccasins. I’m tired but most of all I’ve lived a good life and now I’m ready to go. Tell everyone not to feel sad nor sorry for me or see me as a victim. They can feel sad for themselves if they need to but not for me. This is what I want and I’m ready.”


She shared that on Sunday evening and on the following Saturday morning her journey was completed. She was comfortable and peaceful surrounded by love, classical music, candlelight, and her favorite little vase with her favorite little yellow pansies nearby as she slept her way out of her little body.

Besides life, Donna loved a great bridge game with her dear bridge companions, her car, her precious little feet and legs, her sweet pickles, her cream puffs, birds, especially hummingbirds, Little Debbie honey buns, sunsets and, of course, Obama, to name a few–and especially you and me!


Thank you for letting me share the results of my experiment with you today. As I know for myself and I’m sure it is for you too, it remains a privilege, honor and pleasure to love and be loved by Donna Lancaster!.


I’d like to close with Donna’s words from Standing Tall:


“The Marvel of our existence is incredible. . .


I am a privileged invited guest on this beautiful estate called Earth at an incredible Party put on by the Host. This must be a party. Where there is a bunch of people together playing games it’s called a Party. I arrived at the Party helpless, naked, toothless and unable to speak the language. I had two slaves to take care of me for 18 years. Ever since I arrived at the Party, The Host has provided me abundantly with everything I have needed. I have clothes to wear, a home to live in, a car to drive, food to eat, interesting things to do and interesting people to be around. I have it all. Why would I ever be afraid–afraid of sickness, death, pain, economic turmoil, discomfort? When I remember that I already have it all, I can live fearlessly. That is my intent. Because I am so thankful to be invited to this incredible Party there might be something I could do to express my gratitude to the Host, for inviting me. I can do this by being considerate and harmless to the other guests, myself and the Planet. I also understand that I can make a contribution to Life by expressing a harmonious mood wherever I go. I’m not 100%, but I do my best. Perhaps in these troubled and violent times that may be the most valuable contribution I can make for all Mankind! Keep the mood up and don’t make anything important!”


All is well, especially Donna!