May 2011 Taking responsibility seems to be the bridge that connects the Higher and lower selves. Seven years ago I received a life-transforming insight. I recognised that our thoughts, feelings, words and actions were our business and the thoughts, feelings, words and actions of others were their business. In my fancy, I saw these two aspects as entirely separate, divided by an impenetrable moat. So what exactly is the possibility this insight holds for us? If what I feel, or think or act is entirely my business, then how can I blame the other for anything? If I get angry because someone has abused me, it is not the other person’s fault at all. What he does is his business and my reaction to it is my business. It is up to me to process whatever reaction the abuse may have engendered such as anger, hurt or pain, and not seek to dump it on the other. Similarly, if I am attracted to someone, it is not his or her problem at all. My feelings are my business and I must grapple with them to the best of my capacity, and not impose it on others. If my mother-in-law turns demanding or critical, and I feel victimised, I need to separate the two events, because essentially there is no connection between the two. My sense of victimisation is coming from my lack of centredness, or confidence or self-esteem. It has nothing to do with what she said or did. We recognise this truth vividly when we see how two people react to the same stimulus. Let us say a thief enters a train compartment where there are only two people available. One may panic and shriek and the other may retain her composure. Same stimulus, different responses. What is the conclusion? The response depends on where we are in terms of maturity, confidence, equanimity and so on. However, in reality, we are deeply entangled with the feelings, thoughts, words and actions of others. We react to them ceaselessly, which in turn cause a volley of reaction from the other and so it goes on, reaction upon reaction until the relationship cracks from the weight of the negativity. But is it easy to separate the strands of reaction from each other and to step back and see our original state of disentanglement? Not at all. In fact I would say that it is only today, seven years later, that this insight is slowly becoming an experiential reality. While I still have a long way to go, I find that these days when my mind is distracted with thoughts, it is possible to take responsibility for them and take them deep into the centre of my being rather than resist them. I find taking responsibility for anything – emotion, physical sensation, thoughts – frees you fully of them and enables you to craft your response. It appears responsibility is what releases the Higher Self and enables it to take control. As long as we are not willing to take responsibility for our stuff, they control us, inflicting pain and discomfort. When we take responsibility, and I hasten to say this is a happening and not a decision, we are saying that the emotion or thought is less than us. It belongs to us. We do not belong to it.
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