Guru Dialogues -- Responsibility and Mind

s-Recently you were talking about responsibility, and how that relates to spirituality. You seemed to be saying that, in a way, they are the same thing. Can you explain that a bit more?

g-Sure. What I have tried to explain is that responsibility—and I am talking about a self-sustained and unshakable sense of responsibility—is an important aspect of mature spirituality. When someone feels truly responsible there is no division between the self and the world, because that deep sense of responsibility resides at the very heart of one’s perception and action. True responsibility means not mentally delimiting the scope of your involvement with the world or with the self. You accept all of it as falling within your domain and put up no barriers. You feel very deeply that you—the essence of you—are fundamentally connected to everything that is. You understand that there is no loving or nasty deed that is utterly foreign to you. You also take responsibility internally for anything you feel or think. Every greedy thought, every ounce of nastiness, fear, as well as every kind or loving thought you have. You accept responsibility for all of it and then you engage it constructively. You become active. Imagine how the world would be transformed if everyone were responsible in that way.

s-That sounds to me like assuming a lot of guilt for things that you haven’t done.

g-Guilt is a choice, a position, and that is another subject altogether, but, yes, there is a heaviness that is a natural part of accepting such a great load. But understand that the heaviness is more than counterbalanced by the awareness that you are also—at a fundamental level—tied to the great, loving deeds of mankind. So all you are doing is expanding, without limit, the scope of what you are taking responsibility for. Instead of just the standard personal triumphs and shames, you are taking on all triumphs and shames.

s-So you’re saying that I shouldn’t feel guilty for any single act in my past?

g-If you decide to feel guilty for any one act and direct your attention there, then you are making a decision to fixate on the memory of one past deed, and so you have shrunk your realm of responsibility again. Then you are ignoring the good, the love, and the compassion that is also in evidence everywhere you look, inside or outside yourself. There is a difference between learning from our actions and suffocating ourselves with them. It is the same if you are continually comforting yourself with past actions that you feel were commendable, and writing yourself blank cheques in the present with them. In both cases you have taken your eye off the ball. The past is the past and the future is the future. What you have done or think you will do are of no consequence to the decisions you can make NOW.

s-To take responsibility for everything, don’t you have to know everything?

g-To know everything consciously, in the mind, with thoughts, with memory? No, that is neither possible, nor would it be useful. Instead you are sensing and fundamentally grasping the state of the world and the self as it is. You can do this because there is actually no division between yourself and the world. The division lies only in perspective.

s-There it is again. You often put down the mind and thoughts. I don’t understand why you think that thoughts are useless.

g-Useless is not a word I would use. Thinking can be useful, but understand that much of the dysfunction that you see in the world today has come out of an excessive fixation on thought, logic, on the rational, the material, that which can be measured. This is powered by a fear of the unknown, loss of control, which is itself a quirk of the mind. So what has happened, then? We have rationalized ourselves en mass away from the truth that sits patiently inside each of us, which is not knowable in the way that the circumference of a circle is knowable. This truth requires us to wake up and out of the constant thought stream of the mind. Unless we can do that, we remain unconscious to the inner reality, which—paradoxically it will seem—is also the outer reality. We’ll talk more about that another time.


g-Thank you.

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