Russell Bishop Blog

# 34 – Cake Recipes and the Key to Life

Cake Recipes and the Key to Life

OK – so some people who get this far in my winding road to self awareness either get bored or start complaining about how much they have already tried this kind of approach. Still others will flat out say, “this just doesn’t work.”

Now, I’ll have to concede the validity of that last one. None of this stuff I have been writing about actually works.  After all, these are just words on a page and how often have words on a page done anything? I mean, just keep staring at these words and see how much gets accomplished.

I can pretty much guarantee that nothing will change.

Unless, of course, everything might change.

Here we go again – more psychobabble and cutesy contradictions.

Well, almost. The key here is that no concept ever conceived has produced one iota of change without the active involvement. If you go back to the very beginning of these writings, I offered some advice about how to read this material in order to extract value.  The key: active participation – get involved with the ideas by acting on them, kind of like a good experimental scientist.

Remember, we didn’t ask you to believe anything – just play the “what if” game, try the thoughts on for size, and determine from your own active experience what works and what doesn’t.

If something works, great! Keep using it. If something doesn’t work, let it go. However, how will you ever know if something works or not unless you try it?

Now, just to make this even more fun, do keep in mind the earlier work we did on the difference between “trying” and “doing.”

Let’s imagine that someone you know had a minor illness that required a prescription – now let’s not get sidetracked on various medical models – you can interpret the prescription to be some sort of pharmaceutical, herbal remedy, homeopathic, or whatever else suits your model of health and well being. The point we are looking for has to do with an illness or state of imbalance for which a prescribed protocol is indicated.

If your friend got the prescription or protocol in some written form, would reading the prescription or protocol produce the effect? Probably not. Let’s say they got the prescription filled (pharmaceutical, herbal, homeopathic, etc) – would getting it filled be enough? Would reading the label on the packaging be enough? Of course not!

Just about anyone could advise your friend that they must actually take the medicine, herbal remedy, homeopathic, or whatever the protocol required in order to produce the desired result.

They don’t have to believe the prescription, they just have to “try” it – follow the protocol and determine from their own experience if it works or not.

I realize that raising a health issue could take us in a direction I am not prepared to address right now, and could, in fact, be distracting to the key, underlying principle here.  So, just in case you found the prescription example to be difficult, let’s try a different approach.

Do you like cake? Or bread? If you don’t, think of some other food that requires a recipe.  For simplicity sake, I am going to stick with cake. For most of us, cake will help clarify many of these points.

Have you ever made a cake from scratch? Not from a box or some premixed source – from scratch – starting with flour, sugar, baking powder or baking soda, etc. My mom taught me to bake when I was eight, so I’ve been there a few times.

Most recipes start by listing the ingredients. For example, here’s one:

  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups milk, scalded
  • 2 cups cake flour, sifted or stirred before measuring
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup shortening
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract

Does this sound good to you? What kind of cake is it? What will it taste like? Most people will not find the recipe to be anything like the cake that results from following it. Unless, of course, you are an experienced baker – then you might have some idea of the final product.

The recipe above is for a southern style “Devil’s Food Chocolate Cake.”

Does reading the recipe produce cake? Of course not. Now, if you are an experienced baker, you might get a good idea of what the cake will be like once it is fully baked, and still you have to get actively involved with the recipe to produce anything worth eating.

Most recipes start by asking you to sift together the dry ingredients. Once you sift the dry ingredients together, do you have cake yet? Nope. Does it taste good yet? Not even close!

Let’s add the eggs and milk and other wet ingredients – do you have cake yet? Nope. Does it taste good yet? Depends on who you are! For some, the batter is good enough!

So if you have a perfect recipe, and you have followed it perfectly so far, how come you still don’t have cake yet? Because that’s how cake works – batter is important, but not enough.  You still have to grease the pan, pour the batter into the pan and put it into a preheated, 350 degree oven.

After a while (25-30 minutes) you will probably wind up with cake. Notice I said probably.  Why probably? Because if you decided you didn’t really need to preheat the oven, the cake wouldn’t rise properly and you’d have some kind of sticky mess, albeit a sweet one. Or, even if you did preheat and follow everything else “perfectly,” if you keep opening the oven door to see how things are going, you can again wind up with something that didn’t rise properly and turned out to be a mess.

Can you tell I’ve made a few cake recipe errors in my time? And not just with the kind of cakes you mix in a bowl, pour into a pan, and bake in an oven. I’ve messed up all manner of “life cakes.”

So what’s a “life cake?”

Well, that’s what this whole book is about! How do you create the kind of “life cake” you truly seek? How do you produce the kind of positive life experiences you want more of?  How do you recover from mistakes in the process along the way?

Some of those answers are found in the cake making metaphor. Simply reading the recipe doesn’t get you there. You still have to get actively involved and follow the process.

One way to view this book is to consider it an exercise in cake baking. If all you do is read it, the likely result will be somewhere between “so what” and “that’s interesting.” And nothing will change without your active involvement.

Now, if you are an experienced baker, simply reading the recipe may be enough to give you an idea of what to expect. And still you have to go through the steps – not in your mind, but in your day-to-day life.

One of the big differences between a real cake and a “life cake” is that a real cake can pretty much tell you all the steps necessary. It may be off slightly on things like baking time depending on altitude, humidity, and other variables; however, it will be pretty close and with experience, you will learn what adjustments you need to make.

With your “life cake,” we can’t really tell you how hot the oven needs to be, or how long it will take to bake, or even what all the ingredients are. Some of that is because we don’t know what kind of cake you want to bake – what is your desired outcome, what experiences are you looking for, and what life purposes are you intending to fulfill.

But we do know the basic recipe: Awareness, Choice, Responsibility and Accountability.

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