take responsibility for our own lives is a choice that we have. We will
all shoulder more or less responsibility during the course of our lives,
as parents and children, employers and employees, citizens and neighbors
etc. But responsibility for our own lives is something more than this.
take responsibility for own lives involves recognizing those things that
would take it way from our goals: conditioning, agreement, illness,
compulsions, habits, fear, apathy, disillusionment. The personality is
versatile and resourceful in the ways of self-sabotage.
has made us both more aware of these ways and better able to bring them
under control, if the intention is strong. But in order for that intention
to be strong there has to be an awareness that things could and will be
better if we are in charge of our own lives.
be in charge does not mean controlling; it means to be in a state of
intelligent receptivity, aware that some decisions and some courses of
action will be more productive and positive than others, aware also that
ideas that we have had may be shown up to be inappropriate. It means being
disciplined enough to do those things that we recognize as important and
that includes backing down when circumstances recommend it.
thing about taking responsibility for our lives is that is not easy
because it requires unceasing vigilance, and constant reassessment of our
performance against our goals.
religious systems down the ages have given us criteria for productive and
positive and helped us set helpful goals. These criteria are not fixed. As
humanity has evolved, the criteria have changed - and continue to change. But
what are fixed are the terms of reference: the personality has to make its
return to the soul that has given it life and the goal of a useful life
will ever be to raise the vibration of the personality and take it closer
to soul consciousness.
is the task of the spiritual teachers to work out how best that will be
achieved at any one time.
teachings do not last forever; some do not outlive the generation for whom
they are devised. This is not something that is readily appreciated. We
think that because Truth is eternal, spiritual teachings are too. This is
not the case: spiritual teachings are Truth’s packaging and every so
often the packaging has to be discarded and renewed so that the Truth can
be apprehended afresh. Of course the basic core will be carried through
but the mix may have to change and the presentation will almost certainly
have to change.
example, we are living at a time when proactive spirituality has to
replace the submissiveness of Piscean spirituality in order to enable
spiritual will to be brought through. This requires the opening of the
head centres. It is the heart, not the head, that is the focus of Piscean
spirituality and so those people who are ready to work on the head centres
need a different kind of spirituality. But not all are ready-the vast
majority are not - and so there is still a need for heart centered
activity on a huge scale.
do we know what we need? If one does not have a genuine teacher to ask then it has to
be ascertained by meditation, experimentation and honest self-observation.
There is no other way.
development, i.e., the transformation of the energy of the personality, is
the responsibility that we have to the system in which we take our place.
We have a responsibility to see that it is efficient and that our
spiritual teachings are enabling energy to be transformed in the way that
our planet, the system in which we take our place, needs. This kind of
responsibility belongs to the Initiate teachers.
responsibility that we have is of the same kind but on a different scale.
Is what we are doing working? Is
what we are calling our
spirituality making any real impact on our daily lives? We have a
responsibility to check this out through honest
self-observation. If we find we are doing (provided we really are doing
it) is making no real difference to the way we conduct ourselves then we
have a responsibility to acknowledge that in all probability it is not
working for us.
only person who has surrendered this responsibility is the pupil of a
teacher who has undertaken to supervise him personally. A person who is
simply following teachings and who sees his teacher a couple of times a
year at a public meeting has not had that responsibility taken from him.
It remains his own responsibility. We do not sign up for a spiritual life:
we have to work at it. Our spiritual teachings are the greatest of the
gifts of the Holy Spirit. If we allow then to become empty rituals or
simply a pretext for a social life, then the responsibility for that is
our own. If we hide behind excuses like the parlous state of the world and
the quality of political leadership then the responsibility for that too
is our own.
Gurdjieff pointed out, world affairs have always been conducted by ‘dead
men’ (i.e, men without conscience). There is nothing new in the
situation we find ourselves in now.
the West political and religious issues do not intrude into everyday life
in a way that interferes with our ability to work on those things that
matter to us, leave alone with out ability to work on ourselves. But if we
want to avoid responsibility we can and will persuade ourselves that they
do. If we wish to waste time and energy in denunciation of political
regimes we can do that too.
Magi have lived in Northern Afghanistan for generations. Regimes come and
go and they simply attend to their business. Their responsibilities are no
more or no less whether it is the Taliban or the Soviets governing the
country. Because they know that they do not suffer erosion. Our personal
responsibilities have not been change one iota by the events of September
11th, which is not the same thing as saying that our circumstances may not
when we have assumed responsibility for our own lives then, there are no
circumstances on earth that can erode or interfere with our development.
Spirituality does not need paraphernalia and outer freedoms. It has
thrived and continues to thrive in conditions of the worst material
our western affluence and freedoms have permitted us is the growth of
individualism and self-awareness. These are the preconditions for coming to recognize that to take
responsibility for self is a matter of choice. Once that choice has been
made we have freedom indeed. After that it is discipline and dedication
that we need, not propitious circumstances.