Obligations and Duties

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From lecture 108, FUNDAMENTAL GUILT FOR NOT LOVING — OBLIGATIONS:

And now I would like to cover another topic: obligations. Many of you, in your self-search, have found your rebellion against living. This rebellion may assume various forms: it may be manifest or it may take shape as sloth, apathy, stagnation or a sense of utter drabness, where everything becomes an effort and you would rather do nothing at all.

Now why do you rebel against life? It is not only the unhappiness or the pain you fear and rebel against. That too, of course, is one reason, but there is also another. You resent the obligations, responsibilities, and duties that life imposes upon you. Your fight for physical and psychological survival necessitates alertness, power to make decisions, willingness to make mistakes and learn from them. You must expose yourself, and act in the face of risk. When you do not say yes to life in loving and relating, as well as in obligations, you are pushed and dragged through life against your will. To quite some degree, if you want to remain sane, you have to go through this active part of living, but you do so against the stream, as it were. You submit to it because you have to, and not because you have said yes to it. If you do not willingly say yes to life in all its aspects, but allow yourself to be pushed by it, you cannot experience the dignity, the grandeur, and the beauty of it.

You go to the extreme of your unwillingness when you refuse to shoulder your moral obligations toward yourself. You may acknowledge accountability for your own misery in theory, but when it comes to practical living, you wish to absolve yourself from it. Subsequently, everything in your life becomes a tedious task. In an advanced stage even the daily routines of living, such as eating, getting up, cleansing yourself, doing little chores, may become too much. Then there is no dignity or freedom in performing everyday chores, be they big or little.

When everything is an ordeal, something in you rebels. If you fundamentally absolve yourself from accountability for your personal unfulfillment and trouble and refuse to look for the inner connection, then such a weariness is the outcome. You want things done for you. You do not want to cope with decisions, with the strain of living. Or, more accurately, what would ordinarily be an exhilarating challenge becomes a strain. How can you resolve this, my friends?

I would like to again point out that deep within there is something that has not said yes to the fight, to the challenge in a good sense, not in a hostile one, that life puts to us. Find this little voice, bring it out into the open, and then accept its meaning. You will find that this voice belongs to a greedy child that wants to receive everything but give nothing. Ascertain the selfishness and laziness in this voice once you bring it out of hiding. When you understand its nature, and see it without false moralizing and justification, you will want to change. Mature responsibility also requires love and unselfishness. Find where, why, how these are lacking when you put up a lazy resistance against assuming responsibility in your life, or do so only because you have to. You will eventually change your inner attitude and thus go with life rather than against it. When you are constantly tired and apathetic, or when you constantly find yourself in the throes of depression and rebellion, investigate, my dearest friends, whether this very basic rejection of life holds true or not for you.

When you discover this rejection, allow it to come out just as irrationally and unreasonably as it exists. Do not be ashamed of it. Pronounce it to yourself, write it down, open up unrestrainedly to your helper and reveal all the comfortable illusory ideals you harbor. Maybe this voice will state that it just likes to vegetate and do nothing; that it does not wish to overcome, to make efforts, to cope with people and their demands; to decide whether or not these demands are justified or not. It does not want to deal with obstructions, frustrations, criticism. It will tell you that you wish just to float.

You see, as there is in everything a healthy and also a destructive aspect, so it is with the desire to float. There is the healthy floating that comes from following the universal powers of love, from being active in life, saying yes to it. And there is the unhealthy version, the distortion, in which one wishes merely to vegetate and not shoulder life at all. Only when you determine this unhealthy desire concisely, and acknowledge it without self-deception, can you begin to find out why this seems so tempting.

I venture to say there are as many reasons as individuals, but there are always certain common denominators. There is fear of exposure to failure and inadequacy, in other words pride. There is desire for greater perfection than you have. It is a substitute for the love you don’t allow yourself to feel. And here is the link. You need not be so perfect if you love. Therefore you need not fear failure. If you did not fear failure so much, life would not become so difficult. It is often the inherent, unconscious terror of failure that makes life so arduous. So here we have the pride and the fear. Or, you may say no to life because you cannot stand anything going against your will. You fear frustration so you do not willingly go along with life. Here we are back to pride, self-will, and fear, the fundamental faults that prohibit love and disturb the soul.

In each case you will have to start from your own consciousness of feelings and reactions. At first, they may appear to have no similarity with either pride, self-will, or fear. Yet when you look closely and analyze their significance, you will always come back to this triad. And when you go a step further, you will see that these three attitudes directly prohibit love and are contrary to it. Because of them you harbor a deep-seated guilt, whether or not you are now aware of it. Hence you burden yourself with attitudes and behaviors that are infinitely more difficult to live with than the love you originally wished to grow into.

So my dearest friends, I recommend that you set out to find how much rebellion you have against life, and how it takes shape in your life. Find where, deep inside you, you equate having no obligations with freedom. Then seek further to understand that this is wrong. Ponder this lecture and see how both parts of it — the guilt for not loving and the problem of obligations — have a common denominator.

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Thanks:

To my teacher Marieke Mars who taught me self-honesty. To my courageous and loving pathwork helper Dottie Titus.

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