Monday, August 20, 2012

Taking Responsibility for Your Life

In so many ways, the spiritual path is simply about taking responsibility for your life, at least at first. Later on, it melts into the simplicity of love and being, but those two aspects of ourselves are incredibly responsible and aware. From that space, you can make easy and difficult decisions, and you can see yourself and the world for what it is. But many people aren't trying to see what the world is. They are lost in trying to make the world be something other than it is, and they don't want to take responsibility for what their projections onto other other people and their actions are doing and have created in their lives. In many respects, some people are running to spirituality and spiritual awakening as a kind of escapism. People seem to think that if they just find the right guru, mantra, breathing exercise, or meditation, then they'll no longer have to deal with the difficulties of their lives.

And that's just not how it is.

Owning Your Own Crap
So much of the initial part of the spiritual path is owning your own crap. But we've all become too good of con artists, so a lot of times, we are constantly trying to blame others anyway. You may hear it in New Age language or religious language as:

"That person is in such a negative vibration. I totally don't know why he's in my life."

or

"She'd be able to fix her life if she just accepted Jesus as her savior, and then I wouldn't have to bail her out all the time."

Regardless of the decisions that others make, we draw certain people into our lives by our choices, words, and actions. Initially, they really are helping us to see other aspects of ourselves that we're trying to deny or can't see. This is one of the great lessons of all our relationships. They get to show us different ways that we are interacting with the world...at least initially. After awakening, it's much different, but I've talked about that elsewhere.

Still Avoiding Responsibility: The Pain of Life Intensifies
Yet, as I said, many of us have become good con artists. I've been good at it. I've learned to own that as well. Because if there are things that I don't like in my life, I have to own my part in co-creating that reality. Co-creating isn't a made-up word (well, ultimately, all words are made-up). It is, probably, a newer word, and it simply means that you create in conjunction with others. Consider this blog as a co-creation. Sure, I supply the words, but I didn't create the Internet connection, the Blogger code, the search engine that gets many of you here, and so forth. Relationships are co-created. Jobs are co-created. Buildings are co-created. Even your garden is co-created. If there isn't sunlight, things don't really grow (sure you can get some kind of lamp to shine on them as well, but you're not making that energy either). It's a very humbling thing to see how little worldly influence we possess at times, but it can help to develop the humility that is needed to let go of what we don't influence and take responsibility for what we do.

Because we do make choices about the words we say to others. We make choices about the actions that we take, and those choices have ramifications. If we cheat others to make money, we are ultimately cheating ourselves. We'll very likely attract more cheaters into our lives, and then the mantra may become:

"There's no one in my life whom I can trust."

But clearly it started with us. We can't even trust ourselves. And with that core issue out of whack, things will likely happen around that issue such as having a spouse or partner who cheats on us. Or getting into litigation or criminal proceedings for having cheated someone. The pain just grows and grows until we look at our part in the saga of our lives.

The Long Road to Redemption
I don't like to get people too caught up in the idea of time. Healing can be instantaneous, but many thins in this world still take time to manifest. It's how it usually goes. I've seen enough in life to not put too strong of a generalization around this. That's the magic of life. Sometimes when we see the mistakes in our lives and make a choice to change, things transform overnight. Sometimes, it takes years to re-shape our lives. It's different for everyone, but it can be done by everyone. No pain is too grievous to not be healed, but you have to be ready to make a commitment to yourself. You also have to be ready for a lot of the people in your life to leave and to not understand what you're doing because you brought those people into your life because of how you were acting. Going back to the cheating metaphor, you probably don't have a lot of honest people in your life right now because you haven't been honest. So there will be a major upheaval on a social level at the very least...probably more.

And because we don't really know how to walk the road to redemption, it may seem like it is taking a long time. It may seem like it's not working. This is where we have to learn a new kind of tenacity in the face of the discomfort that we feel. It's not all roses on the spiritual path. It's oftentimes a lot of thorns, and those thorns are of our own making. Also, along the lines of my spiritual allegory called, "A Chance Encounter With Love," love's heavy hammer that is smashing your life to bits is also setting you free from the constraints and bonds in your life. But at first, you may simply get lost in the old attachments and pain. This is where having the awareness to take responsibility for what you've created can be crucial. Otherwise, you will simply blame your external circumstances again and play the victim role once more.

Watching Your Mistakes Reveal Themselves
You will likely learn a lot of humility on the spiritual path. We all do. We all have seen our mistakes shown to us in incredibly clarity. It's just how it goes. The point is to let go of the attachment to the old ways of being. Taking responsibility for our mistakes is saying, "Yes. I did that." Then you make amends if necessary, and you forgive everyone involved in the situation, including yourself. At first, you may feel really vulnerable, and you may confuse this as being a victim. But this is far from the truth. Being non-reactive in situations is a way to take time to make conscious decisions. It's a way to stop fueling cycles of pain in your life. It's a way to fully see what's playing out in your life and to see what your role has been in the whole drama. Because when you come from that space of awareness, you actually will start making conscious decisions, potentially for the first time in your life.

Otherwise, if you don't do this and come to spirituality, then spirituality is just the next game. Getting enlightened is the next game. It's a game to avoid responsibilities, and it's an attempt to reach some perfectly luxurious and untroubled world that does not exist. Any spiritual teacher who tells you that it exists in the external world doesn't know what spirituality is about (and I'm sure more than a few of you who have run across those people: they do, however, have their role to play in the great unfolding of life, as we  all do). Because the only place that we can be at peace is within, but since we're living in this world, we will feel discomfort, be it hunger, grieving a lost one, or some other situation. The path of spirituality is about learning to accept all as it is, to feel fully, but also to learn how to let go.

The Slow Realization Comes When It's Ready
And maybe you're not ready for this blog post. That's okay. Realizations sink into us as we're ready. No one can rush this process because there's no where to get to. It's like the seed that sprouts. No one can say when it sprouts. Only when enough sunshine, water, soil nutrients, and general magic of life come together in just the right way does something happen. It doesn't have to be a great big spiritual awakening either. Oftentimes, it's little realizations that build up to bigger revelations, and then we have to take responsibility for this things. Otherwise, those things just pass like clouds in the sky. No one can do this path for you. No one can live your life for you. So when you're ready, take responsibility for what's in your life, and start down walking down the path to see yourself in your fullness, perhaps for the very first time.

Today's lovely green picture comes from my student, Jenn.
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