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Shambhala Life Skills: Self-Responsibility

Originally the word "health" meant "whole" or "undivided." However, today the word "health" has come to mean something quite different. Today, it is more likely to mean free from illness or able to pursue your daily activities.

Shambhala Black Belt Life-Skills bring us back to the original meaning of the word "health" by recognizing the interconnectedness of the mind, the body and the spirit. Shambhala Black Belt Life-Skills unify and strengthen the bond between the mind and the body, resulting in a powerful spirit that becomes your guiding Life-force.

Shambhala Black Belt Life-Skill Number Three Self-Responsibility

SELF-RESPONSIBILITY leads the way for all the other Shambhala Black Belt Life-Skills. Without SELF-RESPONSIBILITY you will have difficulty grounding yourself in the other Shambhala Life-Skills. SELF-RESPONSIBILITY, as it is used here, means having the ability to respond to your Self. In this instance the word "Self" is spelled with a capital "S" because it refers to that part of you that is naturally and continually aligned with Nature's Intent and your original Integrity. The Life-Skill of SELF-RESPONSIBILITY enables you to respond to our needs for internal harmony, as well as to your needs for harmony with the outer world.

The youth of the 1960's and 1970's are euphemistically referred to as the "me generation." The "me generation" is typically characterized by a disregard for the needs of others. This disregard of others may have resulted from a growing resentment of the mutually dependent relationships of that era. Mutually dependent relationships are based on the philosophy of "others before self." Such a philosophy can result in a complete loss of your SELF-RESPONSIBILITY (your ability to respond to your Self).

Co-dependent relationships, where you accept responsibility for another’s well-being, excuse you from the responsibility for your own well-being. Becoming a mature and responsible adult in our culture means taking on and providing for the well-being of a spouse, children, aging parents, employees, etc. Becoming a responsible adult typically means maintaining co-dependent relationships.

Nothing is inherently wrong with mutually dependent relationships; co-dependence can be the basis for strong, long-lasting relationships. Yet, at the same time, the underlying philosophy of these bondings, "others before self," leads you to believe that there is something inherently wrong, immature, or selfish in being Self-reliant, Self-contained, Self-loyal … and SELF-RESPONSIBLE.

Historically, there was wisdom in discouraging self-oriented behavior. As our early ancestors faced the trials of nature and wild beasts, individuals who strayed away from the group and/or tried to make it alone put themselves and the group in jeopardy. Banding together, relying on the safety in numbers, encouraging co-dependency and the division of labor were necessary to promote both individual and group survival.

But, today this is not the case. In our technologically advanced cultures, with survival nearly guaranteed via medical technology, social security, welfare and other public systems of regulation and support, you do not have to secure your position within the group to survive. Nor do you need to bond yourself to a mate to provide for yourself. Women are free now to enter the employment ranks, and labor-saving devices make it easy for men to provide for their own domestic needs.

You no longer need to sustain mutually dependent relationships to survive. Nor is it necessary to subjugate your own personal needs to the needs of a relationship to ensure your own physical well-being. Survival is no longer dependent on the relationships you secure, even if you continue to act as if it is.

You are now free to create relationships for other reasons, such as companionship, sharing leisure activities, intellectual stimulation, communication, personal enrichment, etc. What you want to experience with the people in your life today is different than what your great grandparents needed from their spouses – and it is difficult, if not impossible, for you to fulfill your contemporary needs in relationships which desperately cling to co-dependent bonding styles.

I don't want to grow old with someone
Because they are stuck with me
Or because others say
That's how it's supposed to be.

I don't want to grow old with someone
Because no one else will have me.
Or because someone wants me
For their old age security.

I don't want to grow old with someone
Because they've contracted me to.
I don't want to grow old with someone
Because they've nothing better to do.

I don't want to grow old with someone
So grown children can visit home.
Or even because I might be
Fearful of living life alone.

I don't want to grow old with someone
Because there was once warmth in our kiss.
I'd rather grow old alone,
Than to cling to another, because of all this.

The Shambhala Master

The idea that mutual dependency is mature, adult-like behavior while self-reliance is construed as childishly immature and selfish fosters within you a reluctance to be Self-responsible. This culturally acquired reluctance to become independently responsible for your own physical, emotional and social well-being annihilates your capacity to accept the sole responsibility for regaining your original Integrity.

Your culturally acquired reluctance to become independently responsible for your own well-being also fosters your general sense of powerlessness, especially when it comes to issues of your own health. These feelings of powerlessness lead you to believe that friends, family, acquaintances, doctors and other "experts" know you better than you know yourself.

As you flounder in your fears of powerlessness your only recourse is to hope that someone you can trust is in control and can make things right. Feeling as powerless as you do, from time to time, it becomes unbearable for you to realize that something as precious and complex as your health is your own responsibility. Consequently, your only comfort comes from abdicating the responsibility for your well-being, your quality of Life and your Integrity to your loved ones or other "experts."

The Life-Skill of SELF-RESPONSIBILITY allows you to begin taking on the challenge of Life and health instead of surrendering that responsibility to others (i.e., loved ones, health professionals, spiritual experts). SELF-RESPONSIBILITY is the process of empowering yourself to become "respond-able" to your Self and responsible for your own Integrity.

The Shambhala Life-Skill of SELF-RESPONSIBILITY does not diminish the importance of relationships with others. To the contrary, this Shambhala Life-Skill recognizes relationships as an important source of your personal fulfillment and makes healthy relationships a high priority. At the same time, SELF-RESPONSIBILITY requires you to become as loyal and responsive to your own Self as you are to the people you love. SELF-RESPONSIBILITY enables you to be responsive to your emotional, physical and spiritual needs for Integrity. At the same time, SELF-RESPONSIBILITY increases your ability to create relationships that further enrich the quality of your life.

Life is Dangerous; Live at Your Own Risk

It will be difficult to take on the responsibility of your own life and health with the kinds of legal and consumer trends popular today. You hear daily that if there is an accident or an injury, then someone else is to be held responsible; someone else should pay. You are living in a time when the host or any supplier of alcohol can be held legally responsible for any alcohol-related accident.

This kind of thinking will make it difficult for you to begin assuming responsibility for your Self. Nonetheless, by using the Shambhala Life-Skill of SELF RESPONSIBILITY you can prepare yourself for the task of assessing that you need to regain and maintain your Integrity. Through the Life-Skill of SELF-RESPONSIBILITY we can develop an understanding of the inseparability of life and death, of right and wrong, and of responsibility and freedom.

Freedom is the challenge and the art
Of taking full responsibility for oneself.

Few ever experience freedom.

Shambhala Master

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