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The DK Foundation


To 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.

To 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.

Psychology 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.

To 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.

The 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.

Our 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.

It is the task of the spiritual teachers to work out how best that will be achieved at any one time.

Spiritual 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.

For 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.

How 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.

Spiritual 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.

The 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.

The 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.

As 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.

In 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.

The 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 have changed.

But 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 deprivation.

What 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.

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