Question: I spend my days fulfilling my responsibilities -- to family, job, etc. I know I should find time to slow down, to meditate, but this stressed life seems to be what I was brought up to live! I'm trying to be a good person, but these responsibilities are weighing me down.
Answer: One of the things we're not aware of is this terribly mistaken idea about who we are, why we're here, and what we're supposed to be doing. Because of that terrible idea, we always feel like we're carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders. The fact that we're not supposed to carry weight around with us psychologically runs completely contradictory to our formalized, inculcated consciousness.
Our responsibilities -- whatever they are -- are not supposed to be a weight.
The weight we feel is the gravity that is imposed by us being in relationship with the world beneath us. The world above us draws us, lifts us, sustains us, balances us. We are meant to live in this alignment, so that we can always have the nice feeling that "I don't have to carry this weight."
Most people meditate, or try to find ways to be quiet, because they still have a certain intuition that they're not supposed to carry that weight, and so they try to find a time in the morning, afternoon, or evening -- whatever their interior work is -- and take time to put the weight down. If we never set the weight down, we get so habituated to carrying it around that it never even occurs to us that we're not meant to be worrying, trying to figure out what to do, or how to get everything handled.
In a way, meditation is a time in which we deliberately bring ourselves to a place for the point of realizing that we have a capacity, the possibility of experiencing setting the weight down. Some people call it surrendering. When you surrender, you set the weight down.
Question: How do we release ourselves from the idea that we own these energy-draining responsibilities in the first place? And then how do we become rightly responsible?
Answer: Our minds and hearts are not meant to be burdened all the time with the weight of false responsibilities. The only way you're released from a false responsibility is to see that it is based in a false belief, and it is the false belief that has to be released. I've made a list (below) of some of the great false responsibilities of life and the true responsibilities they reveal. As you consider these, remember that the truth about yourself will never hurt you. Learn about false responsibilities and watch the weights fall off of you.
False Responsibility: You must at all times be in control of everything.
True Responsibility: Welcome everything that happens to you as an opportunity to transcend the weight of any false responsibility.
False Responsibility: The measure of your worth is in how much you possess or in how others see you.
True Responsibility: Claim yourself. Learn what it means to be in possession of yourself.
False Responsibility: Unless you worry about your tomorrows, they're not going to turn out right.
True Responsibility: Be actively present and patient to the moment. What matters is where your attention is right now.
False Responsibility: You must appease your own suffering by comforting yourself.
True Responsibility: Learn to bear your own negative manifestations.
False Responsibility: You alone must see to it that anyone who ever wronged you will get exactly what they deserve.
True Responsibility: Be self-correcting.
False Responsibility: You must be all things to all people.
True Responsibility: Be true to yourself; stop being true to your fears.
False Responsibility: You must repair the past.
True Responsibility: You can be a new person right now. Let go of anything that wants to revisit and relive the past.
False Responsibility: You must create your own happiness by filling yourself.
True Responsibility: First, remember the Truth; second, consider others before yourself.
I encourage you to sit down and make your own list, remembering that your one true responsibility in life is to be awake and receptive to the eternally unfolding present moment, even as you give your full attention to what is revealed within you for its ceaseless passage through you.
Question: How do we recognize and accept our responsibility to others? Is there any compromise or sacrifice to self when fulfilling our responsibility to others -- especially our family?
Answer: If you have a responsibility, fulfill it. You must take care of your children. If you have a sick parent, and there is no one else to help them, you should be a good son or daughter. If, on the other hand, you have a twenty-five-year-old child living at home that you can't say "no" to, this is a completely different story. We must each find out where it is that we accept a life of fear, calling it a necessary compromise, and, on the other hand, how it can be equally true that we won't compromise with others out of some self-image or other fear. So, what do you really want? Truth does not deny anyone its Life based on what responsibilities that person may have. In fact, quite the opposite is true. It is the person who refuses real responsibility that the Truth doesn't see.
Excerpted from Seeker's Guide to Self-Freedom
Question: I feel increasingly burdened with the responsibilities of my daily life, let alone what I am asked to do spiritually!
Answer: We are spiritually free when we have no fear of shouldering those moments when life brings more challenges than we have ever had to handle before. We understand the spiritual law that holds we cannot be harnessed to any load without being given the subsequent strength we need to succeed with it. Here is the implied exercise to be found in this law: Always accept a little more responsibility whenever conditions in life ask you to step up and test your spiritual strength. Just as our willingness to risk failure is one of the prerequisites for learning to live without fear, so too is our willingness to reach the end of our power an invitation to realize a source of a power within us without end.
Excerpted from Let Go and Live in the Now
Question: I feel it is my responsibility whether I succeed (or not) at having a spiritual life? What is wrong with wanting to succeed? Isn't that the point?
Answer: Yes. But your inner success is Truth's responsibility, not yours. Your task is to understand this -- and then to let Truth do for you what you have been unable to do for yourself.