Dr Helen Ford - Spiritual Responsibility

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Spiritual Responsibility

"If ya come to do somet'ing, ya do it. But if ya come to do somet'ing an ya don't do it, ya fighting against God".

Bob Marley

Everyone has one basic responsibility, which is to be true to their own soul. This means simply being what you are created to be. To be what you are created to be is an offer of respect to Creation. It is doing what is naturally done by trees, plants and everything else in nature...expressing the essence of your own inner being

Anyone who is absolutely and unfailingly true to his/her own soul will also automatically always be in his/her right place within the universe at his /her right time to be there and will therefore be in perfect alignment with the natural order and harmony of creation. This means that they will be making the best contribution they could possibly make to the order, beauty and harmony of the whole. So, if we could be considered to have any responsibility to creation itself, and to everything else which is part of creation, that responsibility would also be met by exactly the same process of being unfailingly true to our own souls.

Fulfilling this responsibility is simple (though not necessarily easy when it involves undoing a large quantity of childhood programming which inculcated beliefs about being responsible for others!), as all anyone who decides to fulfil this responsibility has to do is to listen carefully to every feeling which arises naturally from within themselves and to consistently follow the direction these feelings give.

This will involve regularly taking the time to listen inwards in order to access their deepest feelings of pleasure and desire and trusting these feelings to lead them towards whatever is right for their own soul. It also means paying careful attention to all negative warning signals, such as pain, anger, fear, frustration, sadness etc. and allowing these uncomfortable emotions to warn them that they either have, or are about to, step out of alignment with the harmony of their own truth.

There are people who fear pleasure and suggest that the pursuit of pleasure may lead to a variety of 'bad' results (some of them probably classifiable as unmentionable in a respectable 'spiritual ' article such as this!) So, first of all I want to make it clear that when I am talking about desire, I mean the true desire of the soul, the kind of desire that comes up through the heart with a flood of warmth, joy and delight and, when it is fulfilled, generates an all-pervading feeling of total well-being and happiness. The pleasure which is felt throughout the process of moving towards the fulfilment of this desire comes from deep within the whole being, relaxes the physical body and clears the mind. It is accompanied by a continual sense of rightness and a certainty of the value of what you are doing. All the energy you need seems to be there in abundance and any help you may need seems to magically appear! After completion, any tiredness you may feel is a relaxed, easy pleasant tiredness and there is never any sense of being drained or exhausted. Also, whenever you look back on any occasion on which you brought such a desire from conception to completion you will still feel the warmth from the memory and a sense of appreciation what you did. And all this applies in just the same way whether the initial desire was as simple as to smile at or speak warmly to a stranger, make a lemon meringue pie or to undertake a massive project which would take years to complete.

The reason you can always trust the innermost desires of your own heart is that they always direct you towards pure love.
The soul's deepest desire is to experience the fulfilment and pleasure of the flow of pure love. The flow of pure love flooding throughout the whole being both from within and without the self at the same time is the greatest of all possible pleasures. Thus, since it is only the flow of life force through pure truth which generates pure love, the desire for pleasure will automatically lead us towards truth, both in ourselves and others. Beauty, truth, pleasure and spirit are one. They are all combined in pure love. Each of these is closely connected with the other. In seeking one you find the rest.

I fully realise the implications of what I am saying here. The basic statement I am making is, "Your responsibility to others is to be true to yourself, which means following the path of your own deepest desires, pleasure and fulfilment". The implication is that it is never constructive to put aside your own desires, pleasure or fulfilment for the sake of anyone or anything. However, many of us were trained to believe that true love for others inevitably involves sacrificing our own desires, so I will spend the rest of this article explaining why this is not so and also how we may have come to believe that it is.

First of all, the bare facts! Pure love arises as a result of the flow of life force through truth. Doing things you have no desire to do or going ways you do not desire to go is going against truth and therefore cannot possibly generate pure love. We are all part of the same whole. Each part benefits most from the other parts being true to themselves. Each organ in the body functions best when every other organ does what it is best fitted to do. Trying to be something you are not is not only very difficult and uncomfortable and exhausting, it is also lying. It is not only a betrayal of your own soul, it is a betrayal of others, especially those who are open to you by their own love for the truth of what you really are.

People sometimes say to me, "But what if everyone did what they wanted?", in a tone suggesting that there would be chaos and anarchy - or generalised rape and pillage! In fact, when people do act from the very deepest of their innermost desires, they always choose to act out of pure love, simply because this is the greatest of all pleasures. The very nature of pure love is to give out of itself, to share what it is with all other beings. Pouring the whole of what you are outwards into life of towards someone or something to whom you desire to give yourself is a deeply and intensely pleasurable experience. (Why else would people want to fall in love?!) A being that is flowing pure truth gives out all that it is, all that it knows, through the whole of its being. What is 'selfish' or destructive about this? What is chaotic or anarchic about a tree or the structure of a single cell or the form of a flower? Which human being who has really known and committed him/herself to giving out his or her own innermost truth has ever shown any desire to indulge in rape or pillage?! Partial truth, frustrated truth, focused truth or distortions of truth may do these things. Pure, whole truth does not. It has no desire other than to be what it is and give that out to all beings because there is no greater pleasure than this. This also naturally brings in the greatest return of pure love and thereby of pleasure in what is received.

Another problem we have to contend with is that the whole issue of responsibility, which is basically very simple, has become massively clouded by both the large number of individuals who are looking for someone to blame for whatever goes wrong in their own lives and the probably equally large number of individuals who are willing to take on the blame and, by implication, the responsibility for whatever anyone else chooses to dump on them as their fault! So it comes about that many people only do what they really feel like doing some of the time and then give the rest of their time to doing what they believe they have to do for those who are not doing what they feel like either but have somehow managed to shift the responsibility for their consequent unhappiness onto members of the first group. The consequence (like the previous sentence!) then becomes increasingly complicated. The first group are so busy trying to sort out the problems of the second group that they never have enough time or energy to do the things they really want to be doing. They then become frustrated and increasingly angry. Members of the second group also become frustrated. This is because they are not getting on with what they really want to be doing either, since they are putting a large proportion of their energy and attention into manipulating the first group! They also feel inwardly humiliated because they are not being respected to do what they need to do for themselves, so they tend to become increasingly resentful. As a result of this resentment, they generally block or refuse to utilise whatever help the first group is offering and then use their inevitably continuing suffering to make the first group feel guilty! (Continually maintained suffering in the face of consistently offered assistance invariably means that the suffering individual is capable of helping themselves and is best encouraged or left alone to get on with doing so.) If this goes on long enough, members of the first group may end up feeling as if they are complete failures, on the grounds that they have been unable to produce any significant improvement in the situation of the second group. They now are reduced to feeling what the members of the second group already felt.... powerless and useless, no good to themselves and no good to anyone else. Thus the revenge of the original sufferers becomes complete, since they have now made others feel as worthless and unable to contribute as they were made to feel in their own childhood. Also, if pushed long and hard enough in this way, the first group may opt for their own revenge ('re - venge' meaning a direct return of what was received) of having so much suffering/exhaustion themselves that they obviously cannot be expected to bear the burden of group twos ailments any longer. This leaves the members of both groups with the options of either smartening up and taking responsibility for getting on with their own lives or staying in 'failure'/'victim' mode and concentrating their energies on trying to manipulate someone else into taking care of them!

As you can see, this gets to be a mess! This is hardly surprising since getting someone else to do something for you is not what we are here for, nor are we here to do for others what they are innately capable of doing for themselves! If you look back into your own past experiences you will see that no-one ever feels really satisfied with themselves until they have done what they really want to do for themselves. Each being is a unique expression of Love and the only help which will be of any real use to it is whatever help it genuinely needs in order to bring its own unique beauty into perfect form. No-one else can do that but itself, therefore any help which is offered needs to be directed towards supporting it to do it for itself. So, if you really want to help others, your goal needs to be to help them to realise that they can create what they desire for themselves. And there is no way that you will be able to do this until you have already succeeded in creating what you want for yourself. Since you will never be able to create what you truly desire for yourself until you learn to trust and follow your own innermost feelings, the sooner you start to practice this, the sooner you will be able to help others!

Anyone who has become entangled in either side of the group one/two situation above can step out of it at any time. All any member of either group needs to do is commit themselves to taking responsibility for being what they are created to be. This means getting on with being and doing what gives their hearts true pleasure and refusing to do anything which they have no genuine inner desire to do. Once they have experienced the relaxed fulfilment and happiness which invariably comes to anyone who takes this path, they will then be able to offer others the really valuable support of their own knowing, derived directly from experience, that everyone has the power to create pleasure and fulfilment within their own lives by closely following the direction given by their own inner feelings.

The best teaching is by inspiration. Being in the presence of someone who has already mastered something they desired to master and feels great joy and pleasure in what they are doing is the easiest and most pleasurable way to learn anything. So anyone who has made the choice of truth for themselves will automatically (and effortlessly!) help others to do the same simply by being there. Their own fulfilment and pleasure will radiate from them and will not only be a pleasure to others but also provide a powerful incentive to others to learn to generate the same degree of pleasure and fulfilment for themselves.

Some people may agree that it is fine in principle to do what you want some of the time, but still believe that it is wrong to do what you want when someone else who is suffering wants you to do something else or when the things you desire to do appear to cause suffering to others. They may accuse you of 'selfishness' .. or even 'heartlessness' ... and make comments like, "How can you leave others to suffer and just go off and do what you please?"

My answer to this is that no-one needs to suffer. Every being's truth is created by Love and every being's truth is loved and supported by Creation. No-one is excluded from this. Every being is capable of creating a life which would fulfill his, her or its innermost desires. That life is there, available ....available for the taking or leaving. Pain and suffering indicate separation from truth as surely as joy and fulfilment indicate its presence. Thus all suffering is only a result of a choice the suffering individual has made at some point in its own life to put aside its own truth and follow some other path. Anyone can change that choice at any time and their suffering would cease.

If someone abandons their truth, conceals it or distorts it, they are solely and wholly responsible for the consequences. Material life is organised in such a way that we rapidly and directly experience those consequences, with all the pain and suffering they bring. This is beneficial. Pain is a warning and if you ignore it when it is slight, it just becomes more intense until you have to take notice! I have found both in my own life and in those I have worked with, that suffering disappears when the soul's truth is released to flow freely and clearly through thought, feeling and action.

So if someone is suffering it is only because they have chosen not to take up what is there for them by being true to what they were created to be. Thus you cannot really help anyone to free themselves from suffering by giving up what you feel like doing in order to take care of their problem, as your sacrifice carries with it the implication that you do not believe they can manage to create what they want for themselves. Thus instead of helping them, you are effectively weakening them by going along with their belief that their suffering is inevitable and treating them as if they were helpless victims within their own lives. However, you can help someone who is suffering by communicating from your own understanding and experience your own certainty that all pain can be relieved by the choice to follow the inner directives of the soul. Then you are showing them what they can do to help themselves and so giving them power to create what they desire within their own lives.

I remember some while ago I was attending a spiritually oriented yoga course and another woman on the same course came up and thanked me. I didn't remember the precise occasion but apparently she had been at a lecture I was giving when I had said that arthritis is due to suppressed feelings of resentment in individuals who habitually sacrificed themselves for others. She said she had felt very angry with me and had gone home and told her family what I had said. However, in the process of talking to them about it, she had realised that what I had said did apply to her. She had then gone on to look into herself and her own feelings and move towards doing what she really wanted to do .... and her arthritis had almost disappeared. She remained grateful for what I had said at the lecture, even though she had been angry with me at the time. I have had many other similar experiences.

It is infinitely more fulfilling to me to see others fulfill their own dreams and desires than to believe, as I was brought up to believe, that I have to carry or support anyone who seems less capable than myself of creating what they desire for themselves. However it has only been through experiencing the consequences of both going along with the expected carrying and of choosing the path of my own true feelings that I have come to understand how damaging it can be to everyone involved to believe that some are 'better' or more capable than others of creating what they desire.

One thing I want to make clear here is that committing yourself to your own truth by deciding to only do those things which you have a genuine desire to do is not going to mean that you will never again do anything for anyone else. Far from it! Just as it is one of the natural desires and pleasures of the soul to give of itself to others, so it is also a natural desire and pleasure of the soul to support the growth and healing of other beings. It is also natural to take pleasure in offering or passing on to others anything which has given you pleasure.
Most of us love to see our garden respond to our loving care. Most of us have memories of deep feelings of fulfilment after having helped or having been helped by another being. I am constantly grateful to the teacher who shared with her love of Shakespeare and Virgil's poetry to her class of ten year olds which included me and to all the other teachers/inspirers I have had since then who have freely shared their own pleasures in things as diverse as enjoying avocados, working with spirit guides and appreciating Brad Pitt. And many people have at different times expressed gratitude to me both for the things I have directly shared with them and also for what they have learned or enjoyed by simply being around when I was doing whatever I happened to feel like doing at the time . Interestingly enough, this includes several occasions on which I have been expressing anger in defence of my own boundaries and out of respect for my own truth!
So the issue here is not a discussion of whether we should give of our love, time and energy to help others but rather a discussion of when is the best time to be doing it and how to know when that time is.
In my experience the answer is that the right times to be giving to others are the times when the desire to do so arises naturally within ourselves entirely of its own accord. These are the times when it becomes painful to resist the desire to help and a relief and pleasure to do so. If there is no natural upsurge of desire, then it is not appropriate for you to be giving your energy and attention to the situation.
Doing things for others can be an immense pleasure, as long as you are doing only what you really feel like doing for them and also following your own timing in doing it. If you take care to follow the feelings of your desire and pleasure as closely as possible, you will know when what you have done is exactly right by the resulting sense of inner peace and fulfilment and the warm glow around your heart.You can then also relax in the certainty that what you have done is exactly right, neither too much, which will weaken them and drain you, nor too little, which will leave them in need and yourself frustrated. Your heart never lies. All you need to do is listen and it will give you perfect directions!

Sometimes it may be obvious that a particular individual does not really need your help when they seem to be asking for it. However, you are also likely to come across situations where there does seem to be apparent need but you have no upsurge of desire to meet it. There are two main possibilities to be aware of in such situations. One is that there is no genuine need present. The other is that there is a genuine need but it does not happen to be your right place to meet that need at that particular time.
You can easily tell when a need is not genuine. First of all, you will have no upsurge of desire to help. Secondly, you may actually feel irritated... or at least unwilling. It may feel that you are being 'dragged' into giving your time and energy to the situation. Thirdly, if you do let yourself get dragged in, you can retrospectively cross check the non-genuineness of the need by the results of your own attempts to help. Whenever you allow yourself to get sucked in to giving your energy to a non-genuine need you will feel tired and drained afterwards. You are likely to still feel irritated with the 'needy' person, or at least find yourself wishing to yourself that they and/or their apparent need would go away and leave you in peace. Also, and perhaps worst of all, you will find that all your efforts to help will either have had very little impact on the situation or will be rapidly undone, so that the 'need' will shortly return to its previous state! (A non genuine need tends to resemble a black hole in its capacity to eat the energy of others!)
In the other situation, where someone does genuinely need help, but you yourself have no natural upsurge of desire to help them, then it is important to still trust your own feelings. If you do not feel like helping, then it is not your right place to do so. The Universe will make all necessary help available. Not only that, a true (heartfelt) desire to help will be present in those whose assistance is going to be the most useful to the individual who needs it. Thus both the giver and receiver of that help will receive fulfilment for their own part of the exchange. The giver has the pleasure of flowing his/her truth outwards and feeling it received with gratitude and pleasure. The receiver learns to trust that whenever he/she does have a genuine need, the Universe will provide exactly what is needed to perfectly meet that need and that what is provided is then given with pleasure. However, if you were to interfere with that natural and perfectly balanced process by stepping in and offering your help out of a feeling of duty or obligation, even though you are without any true desire to do so, you may end up preventing that process from coming to its own fulfilment. Not only that, you will have had to divert your own energies and attention from where they naturally belonged, so creating a disturbance in one area of the natural harmony and leaving a deficit in another.

The following simple illustration will help to clarify what I have just said. Let us suppose that I leave my house in my own right timing in order to go somewhere I have a good feeling to go to. Then, just as I step out onto the street, I see an old lady drop her basket so scattering its contents on the street. Near the old lady is a 'punk rocker' with the usual clothes and hairdo and he instantly moves forwards to help the lady. But I decide I 'should' stop and help her, even though I really don't feel like it. If I were to stop, the chances are the youth would pass on by, I would be impatient and pick everything up hurriedly and the old lady would sense my frustration and begin apologising for being a nuisance. Everyone goes away frustrated with themselves and each other. However, if I trust my feelings rather than my childhood training, I will stand aside and let the young man help the lady and continue on my own way in my own timing.

Looking at this imaginary situation from a wider perspective, it is possible that the old lady has been caught up in fear and/or judgement of just this type of youth and the Universe has sent her an opportunity to realise that unconventional hairdos and leather clothes do not necessarily mean violence or lack of consideration of others. It may also be that the young man has a need to care for and nurture others but has difficulty expressing that at the same time as maintaining his 'hard' image. So their meeting could potentially be a meeting of a need to give which is perfectly balanced by an equal need to receive. If only I had trusted my feelings, I would have allowed this meeting to take place....and everyone would have been fulfilled.

Our present day society offers many opportunities to have the experiences which can teach us about true responsibility. Although each soul incarnates with the desire and intent to give itself, there are probably very few individuals who manage to come through childhood without having taken on the blame for something which was not their responsibility and having done things they didn't really want to do as a result of that. The shifting of responsibility can start at conception when a woman who did not plan on being pregnant finds out that she is. The developing infant often becomes the object of blame. A child in the womb can be blamed for many things...and, most particularly for the physical suffering of its own mother. Many young children are exposed to competitive tales of horrific births..... "I had a terrible time with Jennifer, dreadful, I thought I was going to die.", "Well, I was ill for months after James...and I never did fancy sex again, which was probably why the old man left me when he was two." "Ruined my figure it did, having babies". Other children are directly blamed for various things, like the mother not getting enough sleep or enough time for herself or not having enough money or being able to afford the things she wants. Children get, and frequently take on themselves, the blame for marital conflict and breakdown. They almost invariably take on at least some responsibility for the death of a parent or sibling. They can get blamed for causing trouble, breaking things, upsetting relatives, making a bad impression among friends. They can get blamed for not being what their parents want them to be, for not fulfilling their parents unfulfilled dreams. And sometimes, the sensitive child just watches what is going on and takes on the responsibility for others simply because it sees its parents taking that kind of responsibility and concludes that taking on the responsibility for others must be the 'good' and 'loving' thing to do. For example, it is common for an older sibling to take on at least some of the responsibility for the care of a younger child. This is partly because it sees the parents doing it and partly because the parents may give a lot of positive feedback to a child who is prepared to take care of a sibling and the child may need this positive input to compensate for its own feelings of being displaced in its parents' affections by the newcomer infant. Another alternative can be that the displaced older child concludes for itself, as a direct result of its own observations, that the 'helpless' state is the best way to obtain loving attention. The first type of child is then set up to become the 'taker care of' and the second to become the needy dependent victim. So the roles are set up and played out ...maybe to the (very!) bitter end ...until each individual involved stops and stands back to reviews his or her own experiences and see the consequences of shifting responsibility to somewhere it does not naturally belong.

You can find out for yourself how you have been influenced by your own childhood conditioning by the following simple exercise. This exercise is based on the fact that the universe does not supply you with energy to do something it is not your place or business to do and, therefore, if you choose to give your energy to someone else even when you have no real hearts desire to do so, you will inevitably be draining your own reserves. Choose a day (or days!) on which you felt particularly tired or drained and list everything you did on that day. Then put beside each item a score out of 10 according to the degree of hearts desire you had to do that thing. On any item which scored 5 or below, ask yourself why you did it. Try to look as deeply as possible into your own motives. Then do the same thing for a day on which you really enjoyed yourself. The results will speak for themselves. You are likely to find that, at least in some instances, you are carrying some concept within your own mind which tells you that you are responsible for someone else's physical, material or emotional well-being and that it was the influence of this concept which stopped you doing what you really wanted. You are also likely to find that on those days on which you did what your heart desired to do, far more lasting benefit was achieved for both you and others.

We all have free will. We all need experiences to teach us how best to exercise our own freedom of choice. The choice to follow your own heart's truth even when others seem to be suffering from that choice can only be confidently made when you have had sufficient opportunity to observe the consequences of both following your own heart against the persuasion of others and of giving in to that persuasion. I now know for myself as an absolutely certain fact within my own life, that no lasting good has ever come to me or to anyone else when I have put aside the natural feelings of my own heart to do something I had no real feeling to do. But I have only been able to come to that confidence by the (repeated!) experiences of both trusting my heart's feelings and going against them.

Each individual is a unique creation and each needs to follow their own path to the perfected expression of their own truth. Everyone needs time, everyone needs practice and everyone is going to make mistakes along the way. You can help others and they can help you and sometimes it will be right to either give or receive help. However, ultimately everyone will find the best ways to give out their own truth for themselves. You cannot do it for them. They cannot do it for you. And you will slow down both their progress and your own if you either give help when it is not appropriate, out of a misplaced sense of responsibility for the suffering or apparent helplessness of others, or unintentionally withhold help from those who would have benefited from it by not being there when they really need you because you are too busy dealing with those who think they need you. However, if you take the time to stop and listen inwards to your own innermost feelings, you will know by the upsurging of your own desire exactly when, where and how much to give to others. You will also know by your lack of desire exactly when it is more appropriate to stand aside from a request to help and leave the requester to deal with the situation for themselves.

The decision to follow the direction given by your own feelings may seem difficult at first to anyone who has accustomed themselves to putting aside what they really desire and taking direction from the apparent requirements of others. However, commitment and practice will rapidly produce its own re-inforcement. On every occasion when you totally trust and follow the direction of your own inner feelings, you will experience complete fulfilment and also feel the security of knowing your own place in creation and the value of your own contribution to the whole. So your own experiences will then serve to reinforce your commitment to trusting your own feelings and following the directions they give.

Once you have mastered the ability to do this and observed the beneficial results within your own life, you will eventually come to the position where you can see clearly that the very best way to help others is to help them be true to themselves, and that the best way to do that is also to be true to yourself by consistently and committedly listening to, trusting and following your own feelings, doing what gives your heart pleasure and avoiding doing anything which either shuts down your heart or causes it pain. You will then be able to pass on what you have learned, mainly by the inspiration of your own example but also, where appropriate, by explaining what you are doing and knowing that others can easily do the same for themselves... if they choose to!
(By the way, everything I have said in this article is what I know from my own experience ... and this is an area where I have had enormous amounts of practice .... but even slow learners can get it if they keep at it!)

This is one of a series of articles about spiritual growth and the attainment of physical, mental and emotional health and well-being. For further details please go to the contact section on this site.


 

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