steve

A practitioner's responsibility

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By request, I've created a new topic to discuss this:

 

Steve

A great piece of wisdom from the tradition I follow:

The superior practitioner takes full responsibility for everything that occurs in her life - 100%.

The mediocre practitioner takes partial responsibility.

The inferior practitioner blames everyone but himself.

 

Bindi

Full responsibility for abuse suffered, for the devastation to self and family from war, for destruction of home and family from natural disasters? 

 

Mudfoot

Full responsibility for how I react, over time, to those traumatic events?

 

Steve

Yes

Best to start working with this under more manageable conditions at first.

We tend to jump to extreme examples and challenge this principle as it does seem a bit outrageous at first blush.

It takes quite a bit of stability and realization to apply our spiritual skills and learning to such horrific circumstance but yes, even then.

 

The rationale is that no matter what the circumstances, no matter how horrible, no matter if they are totally out of our control, all we can ever do is manage our own response as best we can.

We can always try to make the best out of whatever circumstances we find ourselves in.

In that sense we are always fully responsible.

 

Bindi

Though I wouldn't have questioned statements like "all we can ever do is manage our own response as best we can" and "we can always try to make the best out of whatever circumstances we find ourselves in," I just didn't read your statement in this light.

 

Taking 100% responsibility for everything that occurs in my life makes me think of  taking 100% responsibility for any and all situations I'm part of occurring, responsibility for creating all experiences, maybe it does mean this still, or it doesn't?

 

Steve

Yes, it does mean precisely that - taking 100% responsibility for everything.

 

This is a very deep teaching from the tradition I follow.

It is not easy, it is not something most people ever achieve in their lifetimes, even dedicated practitioners, but that's what it means.

That's the way we're asked to engage with our practices and our lives.

It's very important to be honest with ourselves about this. In the West, we find it very difficult to look at ourselves as inferior or even mediocre. It's painful and embarrassing. It's not as difficult in the East. If we try to practice at a level we have not reached, we will only be frustrated and fail to make progress. I'm mediocre at best but I'm making progress.

The interesting thing is that the more comfortable I become with this, the more liberated I feel - very counter-intuitive.

 

The first statements you quoted above are a good and comfortable place to start.

 

As we start to push a little further from that comfort zone, we can look at how we play some role in nearly everything that happens to us. If we are victim of a natural disaster, how did we get to the place where it occurred? We chose to visit or live there, for example. If we are mugged, it is a place we chose to visit, and so forth. We can always find an example of how little choice we have in a given circumstance but those extreme examples are best approached once we've made some progress with more accessible situations. We start with easy examples and gradually build our "muscles." It's important to not look at this as blaming oneself. It comes from a different culture with different values. This is related to the concept of karma, not the Abrahamic concept of sin and guilt.

 

To take it a step further, these teachings are from the Dzogchen cycles which are intended to bring us to direct realization of non-duality and to integrate that fully into our lives. Following such a non-dual realization, we directly see and feel that we are not separate and discrete individuals but rather manifestations of a continuum, a wholeness, with a profound connection to everything and everyone around us. That's referred to as the awakened heart. We experience ourselves at a much deeper, more pervasive level. In that context, we truly are 100% responsible for absolutely everything that happens and that realization can be as much a part of daily life as driving to work.

 

I'm just a beginner on this path but I've seen and experienced enough to be convinced that there is deep truth here worth pursuing - for me anyway. It is certainly not for everyone. The way I suggest to work with this is a bit light-hearted and playful. Focus on day to day situations in our lives, there are plenty opportunities there. No need to look for extreme examples. They can wait for now. See how it works for you. If it doesn't feel right, let it go. It's only helpful if it feels right and makes some sense. If it creates conflict or bad feelings inside, I think it is best to leave it alone, especially if you don't have an experience guide to help navigate the tricky parts. 

 

Bindi

I can just see how this might be a useful philosophy to follow, though for myself I find it too broad right now, and unnecessarily challenging.

 

I prefer to deal with dysfunction within myself as I come across it, and maybe when all of that is resolved I might understand the truth of ultimate responsibility, or maybe I will find another truth altogether. 

 

Steve

I think your priorities are in the right place.

I also think your approach is already building a relationship with this idea.

One last thing about it, for me it takes the form of a practical instruction more than a philosophy.

I think there is a difference there

 

KuroShiro

This deserves its own thread please. Can you please copy and paste these last posts to start a new thread?

 

Jox

May you share which tradition do you follow? :)

 

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Thank you very much Steve.

 

23 minutes ago, steve said:

I practice Yungdrung Bön

 

You're a student of Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche right?

His Awakening the Luminous Mind was one of the first books I got but I haven't read it yet :blush:
 

 

I believe you're posts are of paramount importance.

I'll start here:

 

24 minutes ago, steve said:

A great piece of wisdom from the tradition I follow:

The superior practitioner takes full responsibility for everything that occurs in her life - 100%.

The mediocre practitioner takes partial responsibility.

The inferior practitioner blames everyone but himself.

 

25 minutes ago, steve said:

Yes, it does mean precisely that - taking 100% responsibility for everything.

 

This is a very deep teaching from the tradition I follow.

It is not easy, it is not something most people ever achieve in their lifetimes, even dedicated practitioners, but that's what it means.

 

 

This is indeed a very deep teaching, capable of profound healing transformation and beyond.

I've just started to read/study the teachings of Wang Fengyi. One of his "simple" instructions is "Do not Blame!" - not others, not yourself.

I'm having trouble even realizing what exactly is blame so as to then not blame. :lol:

 

 

Does "taking full responsibility for everything" in Yungdrung Bön also accounts for not blaming yourself?

 

I see you wrote "It's important to not look at this as blaming oneself. It comes from a different culture with different values. This is related to the concept of karma, not the Abrahamic concept of sin and guilt."

Is karma to blame here for what happens? If so the blame is still there but is shouldered by karma? How do you separate yourself from that concept? Can you please elaborate on this?

 

Also can you please explain or give examples of how do you put it in practice in daily life?

 

 

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1 hour ago, KuroShiro said:

Thank you very much Steve.

 

 

You're a student of Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche right?

His Awakening the Luminous Mind was one of the first books I got but I haven't read it yet :blush:

Yes, that book was my first introduction to his teachings and Bön.

I came from many years of Daoist practice before that.

 

1 hour ago, KuroShiro said:


 

 

I believe you're posts are of paramount importance.

I'll start here:

 

 

 

 

This is indeed a very deep teaching, capable of profound healing transformation and beyond.

I've just started to read/study the teachings of Wang Fengyi. One of his "simple" instructions is "Do not Blame!" - not others, not yourself.

I'm having trouble even realizing what exactly is blame so as to then not blame. :lol:

 

 

Does "taking full responsibility for everything" in Yungdrung Bön also accounts for not blaming yourself?

Yes

Blame is usually defined as assigning responsibility for a fault or a wrong.

In the Dzogchen teachings the core message is that there is no fault, there is no wrong, everything is precisely as it is.

Nothing is out of place. 

Dzogchen means great perfection, that describes our natural state.

So blame is irrelevant although responsibility for the practitioner is paramount. 

I'm a beginner so take what I say with a grain of salt, but that's my interpretation.

 

1 hour ago, KuroShiro said:

 

I see you wrote "It's important to not look at this as blaming oneself. It comes from a different culture with different values. This is related to the concept of karma, not the Abrahamic concept of sin and guilt."

Is karma to blame here for what happens? If so the blame is still there but is shouldered by karma? How do you separate yourself from that concept? Can you please elaborate on this?

Once again, there is no blame here.

Karma is simply an observation, not a force or entity to bear blame or responsibility.

I look at it more like a mathematical equation or physical process.

Actions lead to consequence.

Right and wrong, good and bad, blame and fault... these are simply judgements we assign based on our perspective and conditioning. Such judgement doesn't exist outside of the mind. This seems to me to be similar to Chapter 5 of the Dao De Jing that discusses straw dogs.

 

1 hour ago, KuroShiro said:

 

Also can you please explain or give examples of how do you put it in practice in daily life?

No better field of practice than driving! Someone cuts me off or aggressively pushes in front, rather than looking at it as their fault and getting angry or aggressive, I try to see it as my responsibility to anticipate their maneuver, their need, and accommodate them. I recently had the insight to try and drive in such a way as to always try to make the other driver feel comfortable. 

 

Someone was inappropriately instructed to throw away personal belongings of several people where I work this morning, including my own. Several people were furious and gave them both a hard time. I see it as my failure for leaving things piled up rather than storing things appropriately or taking them home. Then I look at it as an opportunity to let go of these things, whatever they may be and move on.

 

In general, when someone makes a mistake or causes me a problem, I do my best to look at how I could have anticipated or prevented it rather than blame or punish them for their actions. After all, they are just the agent of the universe in action. It puts me in mind of Zhuangzi's parable The Empty Boat.

 

It's getting late and I've got an early morning. If some more specific examples occur to me I'll try to post some more tomorrow.

Good night

_/\_

 

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, steve said:

 

So blame is irrelevant although responsibility for the practitioner is paramount. 

At the same time, blame (shame, guilt) are natural emotional reactions which motivate us to take responsibility and action. 

 

But, in the terms of Kashmir Shaivism, they also leads to contraction, and in a contracted state you are limited. 

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The philosophy of personal responsibility for whatever happens in your life is a powerful one. It can be found in various spiritual teachings across cultures.

 

It implies that (on some level), we "choose" whatever happens to us. But since other individuals make choices too, it means that we "choose" their choices, insofar they affect us. And by the same token, they "choose" our choices as well.

 

That's one of the difficulties I have with this perspective, although I intuitively recognize its validity.

 

Thoughts?

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2 hours ago, Mudfoot said:

At the same time, blame (shame, guilt) are natural emotional reactions which motivate us to take responsibility and action. 

 

But, in the terms of Kashmir Shaivism, they also leads to contraction, and in a contracted state you are limited. 

 

Yes, these are natural emotional reactions, which we have for a reason, yet the purpose of many spiritual teachings is to guide us beyond the limitations of such instinctive reactions as we transcend them in the light of wisdom.

 

We are indeed raised to act motivated by guilt and blame. This is seen as a necessity, even though underlying our emotional experiences are dualistic attitudes designed to take us away from our true nature. Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu (amongst others) talk about this in their way, and about returning to our original "innocence".

 

A full acceptance and understanding of the principle of personal responsibility should cause us to go beyond and let go of both blame as well as guilt (which is blaming yourself).

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Steve,

 

Thanks for opening this thread, I was reading yours and Bindi's conversation on the Mantak Chia thread and finding it interesting.

 

Just saying that for now :)

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Taking responsibility for that which other people do ,allows one to avoid assigning blame where it belongs ,and suggests one has powers they do not have. I doubt it really reduces the resentment toward the actual responsible party but it probably does a good job of sweeping it all under the rug. 

Many suffer guilt they didnt earn , it can burn one up from the inside, create neurotic behaviors and send them in self destructive directions. Thats why normal reation is to blame others, especially when ones own intent was not as negative as an outcome. 

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2 hours ago, Michael Sternbach said:

The philosophy of personal responsibility for whatever happens in your life is a powerful one. It can be found in various spiritual teachings across cultures.

 

It implies that (on some level), we "choose" whatever happens to us. But since other individuals make choices too, it means that we "choose" their choices, insofar they affect us. And by the same token, they "choose" our choices as well.

 

That's one of the difficulties I have with this perspective, although I intuitively recognize its validity.

 

Thoughts?


Not really an expert, but I do not think we choose their choices and they choose our choices. By them making a choice a situation is created and when you are in that situation you are responsible for it, but not responsible meaning as the one who caused but as the one who takes care of something. And what you are supposed to take care of is the wellbeing of the beings in that situation (others and yourself). Your responsibility lays in turning the situation into a beneficial one or at least avoid it being harmful to you or others by making you react with anger (for example the car situation Steve used, instead of driving in such manner that you accomodate others, you can start chasing the car that did something nasty to you which can cause an accident).

You are not responsible for your parents death (unless you killed them :D ), but you are responsible for the situation and for turning the situation into something positive (people dealing with their emotions, forgiving each other, etc.).

That is at least my understanding. Sorry for weak examples. Please correct me if I am wrong.

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1 hour ago, Stosh said:

Taking responsibility for that which other people do ,allows one to avoid assigning blame where it belongs ,and suggests one has powers they do not have. 

Yes, this is an important issue. 

Should a child take responsibility for being molested? 

That is actually a psychological trick used by the perpetrator. 

 

Should a woman take responsibility for being raped. 

That line of reasoning is sometimes used in court. 

 

And so on. 

 

As an adult, I can learn to assume responsibility for my thoughts, emotions, physiological reactions, and my behaviour. 

 

And psychotherapy have assimilated a lot from eastern spiritual traditions, working with all levels of being. 

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A reminder that what I am offering here is instruction to dedicated spiritual practitioners, more specifically Dzogchen practitioners.

This is not something all people can or should live by. It is something that cultivates enormous personal confidence and liberation but only if the practitioner is ready for it and has a karmic connection.

 

Stosh and Mudfoot make important and valid points. The frame of reference from which they are speaking is true or most of us for most of our lives. From that place, this teaching may not be useful. That does not invalidate the teaching but does remind us of the importance of acknowledging that it is not for everyone at every point in their lives. With an interest and an open mind, it can become useful if one invests some time and patience in digging deeper into the concept and into oneself.  But again, it is not for everyone - we all need different things in our lives.

 

As I mentioned earlier, we can easily think of extreme examples (child abuse, rape) where applying this sort of teaching is extraordinarily challenging and may even seem offensive. That is not the place to start if one is interested in exploring this concept, it is the endpoint one may achieve when one has reached the level of all experience being of one taste - another very deep and elusive teaching in the Dzogchen cycles.

 

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14 minutes ago, steve said:

A reminder that what I am offering here is instruction to dedicated spiritual practitioners, more specifically Dzogchen practitioners.

This is not something all people can or should live by. It is something that cultivates enormous personal confidence and liberation but only if the practitioner is ready for it and has a karmic connection.

 

Stosh and Mudfoot make important and valid points. The frame of reference from which they are speaking is true or most of us for most of our lives. From that place, this teaching may not be useful. That does not invalidate the teaching but does remind us of the importance of acknowledging that it is not for everyone at every point in their lives. With an interest and an open mind, it can become useful if one invests some time and patience in digging deeper into the concept and into oneself.  But again, it is not for everyone - we all need different things in our lives.

 

As I mentioned earlier, we can easily think of extreme examples (child abuse, rape) where applying this sort of teaching is extraordinarily challenging and may even seem offensive. That is not the place to start if one is interested in exploring this concept, it is the endpoint one may achieve when one has reached the level of all experience being of one taste - another very deep and elusive teaching in the Dzogchen cycles.

 

Good response actually ! Point taken , within Dzogchen it may indeed be a functional perspective to hold to for a while. Very good. 

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This here is perhaps the basic idea , if I am getting it correct.

 

Strive at first to meditate upon the sameness of yourself and others. In joy and sorrow all are equal; Thus be guardian of all, as of yourself. The hand and other limbs are many and distinct, But all are one--the body to kept and guarded. Likewise, different beings, in their joys and sorrows, are, like me, all one in wanting happiness. This pain of mine does not afflict or cause discomfort to another's body, and yet this pain is hard for me to bear because I cling and take it for my own. And other beings' pain I do not feel, and yet, because I take them for myself, their suffering is mine and therefore hard to bear. And therefore I'll dispel the pain of others, for it is simply pain, just like my own. And others I will aid and benefit, for they are living beings, like my body. Since I and other beings both, in wanting happiness, are equal and alike, what difference is there to distinguish us, that I should strive to have my bliss alone?"

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Posted (edited)

The idea of common humanity, as it is called in Neff's version of self-compassion. 

Very useful. 

 

And very good @steve that you pointed out the context of where this is relevant. 

 

 

Edited by Mudfoot
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1 minute ago, Mudfoot said:

The idea of common humanity, as it is called in Neff's version of self-compassion. 

Very useful. 

 

 

Personally I dont understand how the bridge is made between regular life and this other view , but .. I figure theres got to be a way.

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1) Small steps 

2) An immense experience through meditation, where your interpretation of things change. 

 

No 2 being the most important IMO. 

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21 minutes ago, Stosh said:

Personally I dont understand how the bridge is made between regular life and this other view , but .. I figure theres got to be a way.

 

 

17 minutes ago, Mudfoot said:

1) Small steps 

2) An immense experience through meditation, where your interpretation of things change. 

 

No 2 being the most important IMO. 

 

Having that profound experience of connection is extremely valuable but then the work continues.

It takes a lifetime to integrate that experience into our practical lives. 

 

One thing to realize, IMO, is that both the relative and absolute perspectives are equally valid and equally important. 

Arguably, for most of us, most of the time, the relative truth is what counts so that's where we should focus our attention.

 

There are practices designed to try to induce an experience of the absolute.

In fact, I think this instruction we're discussing is part of that.

But the tricky part is that such an experience either happens or doesn't.

I don't think we have control of that. 

That's why it's often referred to as a blessing or a gift.

 

In terms of integrating this into our lives, my teacher likens us to a flame. When our flame is small, it needs protection. We practice what we can, what we feel comfortable with, what supports us. We don't want our flame to be extinguished by too strong a gust of wind. As we have deeper realization and stability we can subject ourselves to stronger gusts. When our flame is like a bonfire, even a strong wind will feed it rather than blow it out. At that point we seek out and thrive on challenging situations but it's not a good idea to overestimate our abilities and do that too soon.

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27 minutes ago, steve said:

 

 

 

Having that profound experience of connection is extremely valuable but then the work continues.

It takes a lifetime to integrate that experience into our practical lives. 

 

One thing to realize, IMO, is that both the relative and absolute perspectives are equally valid and equally important. 

Arguably, for most of us, most of the time, the relative truth is what counts so that's where we should focus our attention.

 

There are practices designed to try to induce an experience of the absolute.

In fact, I think this instruction we're discussing is part of that.

But the tricky part is that such an experience either happens or doesn't.

I don't think we have control of that. 

That's why it's often referred to as a blessing or a gift.

 

In terms of integrating this into our lives, my teacher likens us to a flame. When our flame is small, it needs protection. We practice what we can, what we feel comfortable with, what supports us. We don't want our flame to be extinguished by too strong a gust of wind. As we have deeper realization and stability we can subject ourselves to stronger gusts. When our flame is like a bonfire, even a strong wind will feed it rather than blow it out. At that point we seek out and thrive on challenging situations but it's not a good idea to overestimate our abilities and do that too soon.

Ok , but I haven't seen anything challenging yet, .. there's no independent Jack the ripper, so there is no fault specifically on Jack , he's a leaf in the wind, but at the end of the day , someone goes out there to put the cuffs on Jack or the spree continues. 

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30 minutes ago, steve said:

 

One thing to realize, IMO, is that both the relative and absolute perspectives are equally valid and equally important. 

Or we remain stuck in a dual perspective. 

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Posted (edited)

Ah! 

Ok, been there done that, then what? 

Steve is aware the guy cut him off on the road, divorces responsibility for that from him, fine , any parent who had a child poop their britches has done the same.  Why should he retard just moving on to the next step ? and what is it?

Edited by Stosh

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8 minutes ago, Stosh said:

...someone goes out there to put the cuffs on Jack or the spree continues. 

 

Absolutely :-)

 

☮️

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Mudfoot said:

Yes, this is an important issue. 

Should a child take responsibility for being molested? 

That is actually a psychological trick used by the perpetrator. 

 

Should a woman take responsibility for being raped. 

That line of reasoning is sometimes used in court. 

 

And so on. 

 

As an adult, I can learn to assume responsibility for my thoughts, emotions, physiological reactions, and my behaviour. 

 

And psychotherapy have assimilated a lot from eastern spiritual traditions, working with all levels of being. 

Good ideas break down at the extremes.. ie rape, molestation, murder.

 

We're not saints or super human, but even at the extremes, there's a level of taking responsibility that allows you to move on.. past the trauma and regain your life.  One of the worst things that can happen to a victim is staying in that mindset. 

 

Not necessarily 'forgive and forget' rather 'seek justice and move on.. towards peace and wholeness'.

Edited by thelerner
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1 hour ago, thelerner said:

Good ideas break down at the extremes.. ie rape, molestation, murder.

 

We're not saints or super human, but even at the extremes, there's a level of taking responsibility that allows you to move on.. past the trauma and regain your life.  One of the worst things that can happen to a victim is staying in that mindset. 

 

Not necessarily 'forgive and forget' rather 'seek justice and move on.. towards peace and wholeness'.

But you're still going to keep bumping into situations where you know you don't control . Overfishing off the grand banks, school shootings ,..  rain. 

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Thanks for the topic steve. 

 

Recently, in January, I crossed over another level of understanding on this topic.

 

Lying in hospital, hovering on the line between alive and crossing over for several days as my blood went septic from the posioning due to the ruptures in my colon...  I had the full experience of my own responsibility for all of it.  Every bit of it.  It was beyond just mere mental understanding... I experienced my responsibility in my bones, in my very blood.

 

It was one of the single most beautiful, bouyant and empowering moments I've ever experienced.  Empowering as well... because the moment the cascade of understanding really bloomed in my awareness... the palpable sense that I had put myself there and thus, could also pull myself where I was drawn next... to health, or to the other side...  I was no longer a helpless, poor me, streaming about in the river of fate.

 

When I claimed complete responsibility for being there, for the experience and the results... gratitude such as I have never known, opened up within and without... saturating me. 

 

For a long while, I had been growing in the experience that just because I experience pain and horror and loss, does not mean I am suffering. 

 

Now it's just the way it is.  It's as clear and natural as the beard on my face. 

 

My wife is currently in and out of hospital.  They have no clue the causes, or the cure.  She's hovered near death as well and I look at my 12 year old son, our home with three cats and all the things reflecting our 29 years together and I accept all of it.  Yes, she is in pain.  Yes this digs deep into my personality.  But I am not suffering.

 

I am present.  I am here for her, offering healing, offering presence, just... being.

Connected and loving.  Bouyant and clear.

Fully sensing and accepting my responsibility in all of it.

 

It's remarkably freeing.  So bouyant.  Hard to describe with words if you're not in it.

I understand when others even get upset hearing such things... i used to as well.

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