If there is one thing we need to become on the spiritual path, it is responsible. As we journey forth on our path to self-awareness, we need to begin to take responsibility for who we are, what we stand for and where we are going.
It's always easy to blame someone else for our disappointments in life. That is a pattern common to many before consciously embarking on a spiritual path. However, after only a brief time into our journey up the mountain, we discover that we are no longer able to blame others. Whatever school of learning to which we happen to adhere to in our development, it will not allow us to blame anymore, no matter how traumatic our abuse from others may have been. We are told that instead we must look upon our misfortune as a blessing, learn from it, and get on with our lives.
This sounds easy enough, but to accomplish it isn't always that simple. It helps to understand that perhaps we attracted and even asked for our unfortunate upbringing so that we may learn to believe in ourselves a little more. In order for us to develop a particular soul quality within ourselves, the issue has to be forced upon us. If we had been born into a loving family, there would be no need to work on our self-esteem. Family members would always be loving and supportive. Often it's only when our backs are against the wall that we make an effort to change.
Our soul is perfect, but within us we carry the potential for imperfection. In other words, we have areas that are somewhat weak and need further healing for our perfection to be made manifest. When we see a small baby, we think of it as being perfect. But this soul -- this child of God -- also has the opportunity to gain for itself from earth experience.
We Carry Our History and Our Future With Us
Let us imagine that we carry our history with us. Within us is a record of all we have ever said, thought, or done. This record within us acts like a computer that relays messages to the universe, telling it to send us whatever is required for our growth.
That which comes back to us may come in the form of experiences of all different kinds. Whether they seem positive or negative to us doesn't really matter: it is all considered learning. There is no judgment involved.
The computer doesn't say, "Naughty boy! Now you need a bad experience." It simply gives us what we need to balance the scales and keep us steadily on our path. If we stray from our path, it will occasionally give us another experience to bring us back to the middle of the road that leads us up the mountain.
Get The Latest From InnerSelf
We tend to view God sometimes as a person on a high throne, passing out judgments and punishments. God consists, however, of loving energy. God doesn't punish us. Instead, our soul draws to itself the experiences it needs, whether they appear positive or negative to us. In other words, the soul, acting as the computer, sends out the appropriate message and the universe responds. God, on the other hand, is always there to pick up the pieces should we fall down. This is the energy that loves us all the while, allowing us to make mistakes.
Our First Responsibility On The Path
Our first responsibility on the path, then, is to understand our relationship to God, to other people, and to the events in our lives -- so that we may stop blaming something outside of ourselves for our troubles. Actually, it can be a great relief when we discover we can stop looking everywhere for someone or something to blame. It can be a relief to know we need only look in the mirror to find the source of our troubles.
But at the same time, we can congratulate ourselves on our courage to confront ourselves. And as we begin to uncover our issues one by one, and as we begin to heal, we come to see how much easier it is not to have to look far for our answers.
Then, when we have an experience that puzzles or dismays us, we can ask ourselves how we may have drawn that particular circumstance to us. Maybe we have a problem with self-confidence on which we have been working for some time. Our boss constantly cuts us to ribbons in front of everyone with whom we work. It's not hard to see why this happens to us. Most likely we were testing ourselves to see how far we've progressed with the confidence issue.
Overcoming Our Problems or Weaknesses
Even when we think we've entirely healed something and we have completely changed, we will still draw an experience on occasion just to see if we've really overcome our problem or weakness.
Our responsibility here becomes two-fold. Our first task is to look to ourselves for the cause of our difficulty. The second is to begin to look at our experiences in life and see if we can start to understand their meaning for us; i.e., to be consciously on the spiritual path.
As we start looking at life in this new way, it can be seen almost as a game. We stop looking from a judgmental point of view at others and ourselves and start looking more with interest at the events and experiences in our lives as we attempt to ascertain what they are intended to teach us. Now we are, indeed, becoming responsible and taking our growth seriously.
Being Responsible In The Area Of Relationships
Another way we need to become responsible is in the area of relationships. This is a whole area of concern on which one could write an entire book. But for the time, let's say only that our greatest responsibility in relationships is owed to ourselves.
We need to be as honest with ourselves as we can. To the extent to which we are honest with ourselves, we can practice being honest with others. This is the bottom line for open communication between two or more people in a relationship of any kind.
Once we have established honesty as the foundation, we can learn to trust. Trust comes from experiencing the honesty of another. There can be no trust if there has not been some history of honesty in the relationship. We first need to get honest with self; then we can both extend our honesty to others and expect honesty from them.
This is not the kind of honesty that hurts people's feelings by telling them we don't like their dress when they haven't asked our opinion. This is honesty based upon being who we are. It speaks well for us, allowing us to be our best selves and allowing others to be who they are -- without granting anyone license to offend another intentionally.
Growing Spiritually Without Hurting Others In The Process
We all need our space to experience and to grow spiritually without hurting others in the process. And when we offend, we need to make amends. In this way, we will be on the road to establishing an honest rapport with those around us.
We also need to forgive others who wish to ask our forgiveness. We must include in this category even those who don't really need forgiveness; our willingness to be inclusive helps our own soul to embody forgiving attitudes.
Refusing to forgive means we ourselves are as yet unforgiven and, as a result, will continue to draw unpleasant experiences to ourselves. As we forgive others, we are forgiven, and our "house becomes clean."
Being Responsible for Ourselves
Responsibility in relationships is important if we want any measure of peace and harmony in our lives. We're here to learn to have loving relationships in which we can share ourselves with others in honesty and in acceptance of who we are: spiritual beings, each trying to make our way up the mountain. We each carry our own load, and, though we may help another, we can't walk another's path. We each must go it alone, being responsible for ourselves and the load we carry.
If someone we love chooses to sit by the mountainside or go swimming in the nearby stream while we wish to keep climbing, we have a choice to make. Do we forge ahead, or lag behind?
The choice is ours to make. How can we best be true to ourselves? Though we love this person, can we be happy staying behind? Where does our responsibility lie? Does it lie with us, or with the one we love? Responsibility involves making choices that aren't always easy.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
Savage Press. ©1999. www.savpress.com
The Awakening of the Heart: The Soul's Journey from Darkness into Light
by Jill Downs.
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About The Author
Jill Downs has a BA in sociology and has worked as a licensed practical nurse; facilitated family groups in recovery; has experience working with the elderly in nursing homes and the dying in hospice. At present she conducts workshops on personal and spiritual growth. These essays are her way of helping every reader become fully human, fully conscious and engaged in this wonderful journey called life. The Awakening of the Heart is her first book.