RESPONSIBILITY IS POWER

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Author: 
Karnamrita Das

Many successful people, both religious and secular, accept the idea that we all have to take 100 % responsibility for our lives—though for many of us, this can be challenging at times. Responsibility means accountability in whatever situation we may be in for our behavior and its consequences. We may think the life circumstances we were born into were just a chance occurrence or our karma, but regardless of our perceived reasons for our birth, we are responsible for how we deal with our life in the present. We can bemoan our fate and blame God, our parents, or ourselves and remain stuck in a negative cycle, or decide to better ourselves regardless of apparent disadvantages.

One way to frame our lives is with the saying that, “What you are, is God’s gift to you. What you become, is your gift to God.” [though this saying may not be absolutely truth, I find it a useful construct for accepting my life, and my responsibility to change, regardless of my past.] In very dire circumstances this may be more difficult to swallow, and with a superficial understanding, calling it one’s karma may seem cruel in the beginning. However, to me, even accepting that our karma (which only means what we have done in the past, or cause and effect) is behind our current life environment and body, our past karma manifesting our life at birth is the same idea of everyday life played out.

Today, life responds according to our actions, attitude, and thoughts. The point is that even behind difficult life circumstances or results we may obtain is the Universal intent to help us rise above them and become better persons. At least this is my understanding and experience, which is even truer in regards to spiritual growth, the real purpose of life. If we are well grounded in spiritual understanding then we have a different way to evaluate what is good or bad—“good” fosters our spiritual growth, and “bad” doesn’t, though it can also be an opportunity to change course.

Whether we have a material or spiritual perspective of our lives, we are still left with the fact that success in life doesn’t rest on our past or what happens to us, but is dependent on how we react and what we do about our life. We either create reasons or endeavors to succeed, or we create excuses for our mediocre, stuck, or painful life.

Taking responsibility is very different from blaming. Blaming is usually used as an excuse for staying the same, and brings up the emotions of guilt and negativity, resulting in inaction and depression. Responsibility, on the other hand is solution oriented, and empowering with hope that we can change, which can propel toward our greater good. As many have said response-ability means we "respond to our ability" and spiritually there is more capacity then we may normally think we can draw on. Thus, we can pray to go beyond our small perceptions of who we think we are, or in thinking we are the ultimate doer. I like the saying that, "Act as if everything depends on your actions, but know that everything depends on God."

Negativity or positivity creates an attitude that’s a self-fulfilling prophesy. Some situations we may not be able to change and we have to let them go, but we can always change our attitude and perspective. It is our determination or choice, though we may require help to change our perspective. Help comes from associating with those more advanced on the spiritual path, and from those who can help us in our personal growth work.

In bhakti, we are endeavoring to surrender to the Lord of our hearts, while understanding that we are dependent on God, for everything, as we aren't the doer of actions (even to move our finger!). We can and do desire and that is where our work is. We are entrusted with the process of bhakti to purify our desires and intentions so we may become Divine instruments in the world—whatever the world is for us—our family, community or whatever our given sphere of influence is.

Though we may theoretically believe what we "should" desire and aspire for, we have to dig deep to honestly answer the question, what do I "really" want, conditionally speaking so we can purify that desire by are sadhana and if possible work with it, and dovetail it in way that is favorable our bhakti life, and our highest ideal. That is one of the arts of living and for staying the course of bhakti for our whole lives, lest we be in denial.

For today, I would request us all, to contemplate on this subject of responsibility versus blame. If you are so inspired, you can leave your realizations or thoughts, and we can discuss further. I would love to see this this blog space be as dynamic as it was before everyone migrated to Facebook which depends on your particupation! This is a very important topic. Thank you!