AM I NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ME ENLIGHTENMENT?
Someone might ask:
- "Am I not responsible for my own suffering?"
- "Am I not at choice when it comes to my spiritual ignorance or enlightenment?"
- "If there is some 'outside' Source or sources acting upon me, does this not take away personal responsibility and make me something of a victim?"
- "At the end of the day, do I not have a choice as to whether I whine about my plight in life or take responsibility for it?"
Yes, at the end of the day it is up to us to decide whether to whine, or take personal responsibility. And, I also know that at the end of many days, I still whine and do not take personal responsibility, and that too is part of the soul making process.
Some of us have reacted, probably over-reacted, to being under the oppressive thumb of the all controlling God invented by traditional religion. This God gave us virtually no choice while the harping clergy continued to tell us that we were putrid, worthless sinners without hope unless the Savior graciously rescued us. And, honestly, some of us understand that notion of divine grace, having been in situations where we despaired of ever escaping our addictions or hopeless situations. However, many of us became sick of being the pawns of a temperamental deity that toyed with our fate like a cat tormenting a captured mouse. So we reacted and went from being pawns to being absolute masters. As a result, I think that we have over-played, over-estimated and over-valued what some like to call taking personal responsibility or being at choice.
If we are growing souls, then like infants or children, we need teachers and parents to support us where we can't be responsible or make conscious choices.
The West has so humanized the personal psyche and burdened the individual self with responsibility, that many are guilty and exhausted. Christians are telling us we need to repent and be saved. New Agers are telling us we have to control our thoughts in order to get what we want, or that we have to be awake and at choice before we can do soul-making. We have all but erased the realm and role of a Living Psyche, an intelligent Universe filled with archetypal energies engaging us even when we are not awake and responsible. Who among us is really ever fully awake, or always responsible? If not being awake, or not making the most conscious choices handcuffs the individual soul making process, doesn't that make us quite the powerful little beings? Often, that sort of ragged individualism makes us too powerful.
It seems to me these days that my, and every other, soul was being beautifully fashioned long before I was conscious, responsible and 'at choice'; in fact, likely before I was conceived. Not that Jesus or the Bible is the ultimate authority, but his little known parable addresses this whole issue in Mark 4:26-29:
Then Jesus said, "God's kingdom is like seed thrown on a field by a man who then goes to bed and forgets about it. The seed sprouts and grows—he has no idea how it happens. The earth does it all without his help: first a green stem of grass, then a bud, then the ripened grain. When the grain is fully formed, he reaps—harvest time! Mark:4:26-29
A seed doesn't need a farmer standing over it, coaxing it to put down roots or sprout blossoms. A fish doesn't have to know it is in the ocean to be growing and thriving as a fish. Soul, as I see it today, is that Ocean. Ego is planted in the soil of a thriving Universe, and is acted upon even when irresponsible and ignorant, thank the gods! My little ego, which makes some choices, is as responsible as it can be today. God, or the gods, know that if my personal consciousness were dependent upon my ability to be awake, aware and at choice, I'd be in big trouble. My sprouting ego chooses to engage in lots of spiritual reading, classes and practices - and I receive many benefits from rising into the spiritual light. But soul dwells in the depths, and puts roots down into the soil unseen by me and others. I can care for soul, but I am not in ultimate control of Life's lessons, or even how I respond many times. Often, after I respond 'poorly', I get to observe and learn - but soul is being developed whether I respond the 'right way' or not, whether I am enlightened or benighted.
The New Age Movement has provided us with great tools for self help and solo-making, for doing intention work based on my juicy, needy but limited ego awareness of what I want. I do need to do my best to be responsible for taking care of myself and my suffering, for discovering and setting my intentions. But sometimes, in fact many times, I fail miserably. I become discouraged, threatened by others, filled with doubts, anger, jealousy, envy, etc., and soul is being made even when I have thrown responsibility for my spiritual life to the wind.
I saw a book the other day, Fleeing Fundamentalism. As a wounded ex-Fundamentalist, I sympathize immensely with the title, but it betrays a disposition that is basically Fundamentalist! The author is doing what the Fundamentalist Christians are doing, namely, seeing some parts of this life as evil, Satanic, detrimental and 'flee-worthy'. The author creates a world of duality, trying to save people from the dark side of evil Fundamentalism. Soul-Making, on the other hand, sees the dirty soil of life or the harbor of Fundamentalist Christianity as a normal and necessary stop for some of us, not the work of the 'evil-doers'.
The seed of soul-making is growing even when the farmer is asleep, the ship is taking on necessary cargo for my destiny in every port. I may look back upon those hard times where I was cracking apart under the dark soil and smelly fertilizer of Fundamentalism, and if I am not aware that Soul was sprouting deep roots, I will not see the beneficial necessity of that time. I don't flee Fundamentalism, the Universal archetype of Fundamentalism flees from me when it is done with me.
I remember years ago waking up to the completion of the Fundamentalist process, and like Chicken Little, I ran around telling friends and family of a new awareness that had hit me on the head. At the time, minister friends and my now ex-wife were horrified by my questioning the Christian doctrines, my Father told me I was going to Hell. They too were/are being fashioned by the ubiquitous Forces of the Universe.
Some have also questioned me for placing an external God and others outside of me on the same plain as my internal self; they have asked, "Aren't you placing us in the role of helpless victims when you say other people and an outside God are making our souls? Isn't it up to me as a spiritually aware individual to make soul?"
From the perspective of self help programs and personal growth I would agree. By definition, self help is about me and my personal potential being realized. Clearly I have some choice about my reactions and responses. However, I often don't, or can't, exercise those choices very well or at all - in spite of my best efforts. At the level of Soul Making, the whole Universe is interconnected and the self is one little fish in the ocean of Soul. Others and God (gods) are not external to the self. We all swim in the same Ocean, comprise the same soil, participate together in the Universal Soul. There is no 'outside' of me in soul making.
We modern westerners have isolated the individual, named it the self/ego, and made it the center of all reality and psycho-spiritual development. This rugged individual Protestant paradigm is a reaction to the collective communal Catholic paradigm that ruled the west for centuries. Both paradigms are extremes and prone to imbalance when taken alone. We are both. We are individuals involved in self help (solo -making). We are also part of a universal community (soul-making).
A complete view of Reality includes the self as just one component? My neighbor, God, the gods, all thoughts and ideas are really all One. I am not only playing the instrument, but am being played like an instrument. My brain is more like a TV monitor, receiving multiple signals in the Ocean of Soul rather than just being a brain that is the producer of one show called 'me'?
This opens the conundrum of divine providence and personal responsibility. Do I make choices or is Someone making choices for me? It seems to me that both are true, just as light is made up of both particles moving in a straight line and made up of waves bending around corners. Perhaps we can call it Quantum Soul Making.
Let me conclude this longer than expected blog by saying that we are on a quest for psycho-spiritual understanding. The realm of Soul is the New World. We are explorers on the vast Ocean of Soul in our tiny ships, landing on a new shore here and there, wandering inland, discovering rivers and founding new villages. We have just begun. None of us knows that much. This blog is my journal, my rough map of the terrain. Many have gone before me and millions will follow. Each gains from the steps, or missteps, of prior adventurers. Open your imagination, for Imagination provides both the ship and the territory to be explored.