People use the word responsibility all the time. Some times in reference to things that they feel that they have to take care of and other times in reference to other people and their lack thereof. The word can be comforting or it can cause pain. It can be a weapon or a healing balm. It’s use and meaning can vary over time and space. To different people, it can mean different things. In different parts of the world it can mean different things. And yet, for such a powerful term, it is curiously unremarked upon.
n. pl. re·spon·si·bil·i·ties
1. The state, quality, or fact of being responsible.
2. Something for which one is responsible; a duty, obligation, or burden.
If you break the word down into its component parts it looks something like this:
1. The act of responding.
2. A reply or an answer.
3. A reaction, as that of an organism or a mechanism, to a specific stimulus.
adj. a·bler, a·blest
1. Having sufficient power or resources to accomplish something: a singer able to reach high notes; a detergent able to remove stains.
2. Usage Problem Susceptible to action or treatment: The brakes were able to be fixed.
3. Especially capable or talented.
A duty then. A burden, an obligation to respond, reply, react or give an answer and being capable or having the resources or power to accomplish it.
We are responsible according to our own personal choices to self, family, friends and society to varying degrees. We each have examples in our lives of things that we feel that we are responsible for. Responsibility is a choice.
It is a choice to respond and the ability to do so. To react to a situation in a capable manner.
Individually, we are each responsible for our own thoughts, words and actions. Because the mind can be controlled, every thought that we have is a choice. Because the muscles that move the body can be controlled, every word we say and action we take is also a choice.
We don’t have to think certain things. If we choose to and practice, we can turn off the constant running chatter of thoughts that passes through our brain. Dwelling on the past and the future is not necessary. Dwelling on thoughts of people and situations that give rise to feelings of jealousy, avarice, hatred, passion or even love is a conscious choice. It is a choice that takes us out of the moment, out of the Now, and into the indeterminate space of contemplation, removing us from our outer environment and immersing us within the inner creative environment of imagination and emotivity.
The thoughts we allow our minds to entertain are always of the imaginative variety as none of them are based in reality in any way other than containing a cast of characters based upon real people, or a series of events based upon what we think are potential occurrences given the information that we possess at the time. How we recall the past, how we create the future with our thoughts is totally constructed by the series of synapses and connections within our neural nets and the emotional content that the images give rise to and that we use to determine which potential path holds the best possible outcome for our current emotional state and belief system.
None of it is real until
we attempt to make it so. We remember selectively. Our perceptions are bounded by our capacity to process information and our knowledge bases, which limits our ability to understand everything going on around us. Often, things did not happen in the past in the manner that we envisioned, nor did the events hold the emotive weights to others that we might have given them at the time.
When we think about current events, our perceptions fail us as well. We do not have all of the information, and yet we attempt to forecast other people’s actions, or how situations will play out. None of it comes to pass outside of our minds and in the ‘real world’ in exactly the manner we had envisioned it either because there are other actors involved. Other people who are acting out the plays they’ve also envisioned in their minds. The Comedy of Errors that our lives then become is in direct correlation to the lack of clarity and knowledge that we bring to the table in each circumstance and instance of interaction with other sentient beings and the natural world.
The interplay of multiple consciousnesses engaged in personal, mental dramas upon the sound-stage of 3D reality is life as we know it. Our engagement with the social system and our interpersonal connections to others comprise our levels of responsibility. The social compacts that we agree to as we mature within the different cultural realms of production across the world determine the nature of that responsibility.
As individuals living within greater systems that integrate ritual and belief in a criss-crossing interweaving of institutions and interactions, lesser and greater forms of coalescence around ideologies and material manifestations of such in all areas of people activity including capacity limitation, intellectual bounding, moral culpability, interpersonal interactivity and individual and collective responsibility, we make the conscious choice to maintain the system with our acquiescence and our mental and physical support. We become the system and uphold the system as an agreement with others within the system.
Our responsibilities are then determined by outside forces that we have internalized. Our choices are then bounded by a complex of ideas and formulations that limit our capacity to respond creatively to life and to the unlimited potentialities that surround us because of this mental encapsulation that we subscribe to and represent in our words and actions, if not our thoughts. We become beholden to family, to friends, to society. We limit our thoughts, our words, our actions based upon what others think of us or because of our fear of the potential ramifications of going beyond the boundaries and the imposed responsibility of societal production.
Responsibility in the cultural sense often has to do with the continued propagation of society. Inter-generational societal production. It is almost as if cultures were alive, thinking and conscious entities comprised of countless individual souls who live and die within them much like cells within organic bodies. They are born and die without remark but the body lives on. Humans engage different processes of societal production during their lifetimes, acting very much like cells and we often attempt to pass on our roles to our children, who then pass them on to theirs. We re-create what are often outdated memes as we are conditioned to do even as the world changes around us. Culture must conform to the world within it is expressed, response must be commiserate with ability.
At a certain point, those who seek freedom through spiritual practice come to recognize the limitations of societal responsibility and make different choices. It becomes possible to recognize personal responsibility and to cast off imposed structures that are not necessary for one’s own progress in life. But the ramifications of such are not without consequence. Social censure and castigation, banishment or disowning, disapproval, anger, disappointment and every other form of emotional and physical punishment available, even unto bodily harm and death, are the potential costs an individual must pay for their mental and physical freedom.
The higher notions of philosophical and spiritual responsibility of collective involvement and interactivity is bolstered by the quantum realities of entanglement and superposition. Everything and everyone is connected in a web of consciousness and choice is a matter of perception and attention resulting in the collapse of the wave function into a pattern of lived reality corresponding to personal knowledge or belief. We are individuals acting within a collective, affecting it but possessing our own unique perspectives. We engage others’ perspectives and enter into and exit different time-lines and realities with the course of each series of thoughts, words and actions. This is the real nature of responsibility: to be true to ourselves
and, by doing so, being true to the whole
The only physical responsibility we are born with is to ourselves. Whatever we do is our destiny; is the way it is supposed to be. The only spiritual responsibility we are born with is to our own evolution of consciousness. However we individually evolve is of benefit to the All, is an expression of exactly how things are supposed to turn out. Everything else that we pick up along the way that cause us to doubt ourselves, to self-flaggelate and to entertain worry and regret is to misunderstand the nature of incarnation and life and to misappropriate time and energy upon pointless recrimination.
Life is not designed to be thought out, it is designed to be lived. Taking it as it comes, immersing yourself in the Now opens up the vistas of possibility unto the infinite, releases flows of energetic potentiality that expand human ability beyond dreams and material limitations. Choose your responsibilities wisely and make the choices that lighten your soul instead of those that increase the burden. Accept where you are and what you can do based upon your options in the Now. Be prepared for immediate change by keeping your mind clear and open and watching for the synchronicities that lead you upon your soul’s perfect path.
But mostly, do what you have to do. Own your thoughts, words and actions without regret. It is our most pressing responsibility in life.