We Always Do the Best We Can

In a recent online exchange, a good friend took exception to a comment I made. I had observed that everyone was doing the very best they were able in any given time, place and circumstance. Cindy queried me, “What about being responsible for our actions?”

After some contemplation I replied. “Here’s the first problem, Cindy. Human culture is always looking to place blame. Most often when we talk about responsibility what we’re really saying is we want to find someone at fault.”

Since Cindy has been on a spiritual path for a while, she was able to see and agree to my first proposition. Since her orientation was both Christian and Buddhist, she was able to understand the notions of karma as well as non-judgment. She’d just never thought of them in the context of responsibility.

I continued. “So, every action has an inevitable effect, though humanity again likes to find fault by referring to it as consequences. Perhaps a more generous way of viewing it is that we are always accountable for what we do and the results that then occur.”

“Now here’s where I’m going to ask you to step up your spiritual perspective, Cindy. Okay?”

Her affirmation was swift. I could sense that the aspiring part of her personality was now fully engaged.

“You know how we talk about needing to be an ever cleaner vessel for Spirit to work with and through us. And I remember how often you have said the Holy Spirit has acted through you. Well, responsibility means literally ‘the ability to respond” which is the same as being clean and clear on your insides. And because of that an appropriate response can pour through you. To be responsible is to be available as a vessel.”

The electronic pause that followed was fairly lengthy.

“Ron, do you mean my ego has an attachment to being responsible?”

I smiled as I typed. “Kind of puts Buddha’s thoughts about attachment as the source of suffering in a new light, doesn't it? And by the way, that’s a really good insight on your part.”

“So you know me,” Cindy replied promptly. “Always wanting to do something. What do I do with that idea?”

“Since you’re always doing the best you are able given time, place and circumstances, what do you think you could do with it?”

Another long pause followed before Cindy replied. “I think I’m going to experiment all day with not feeling any responsibility.”

“Experimenting is always a good choice. Let me know what you learn.”

Seeing True

Much of what we claim as responsibility is illusory. Yet it is a great comfort to the ego.

Seeing True in Action

My favorite experiment with responsibility is to choose an area in which I’m simply unable to act in what society would call a responsible way, then to bombard it with effort to determine if I can make myself act responsibly. Be forewarned, you may need to be very open-minded in order to see the truth.