The Birth of Responsibility by Alan Watts

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“This is therefore to say that the transformation of human consciousness through meditation is frustrated so long as we think of it as something that I by myself can bring about, by some sort of wangle, by some sort of gimmick. Because you see it leads to endless games of spiritual one-up-manship. And of guru competition. Of my guru being more effective than your guru. My yogas are faster than your yoga. I am more aware of myself than you are. I am humbler than you are. I am sorrier for my sins than you are. I love you more than you love me. There’s this interminable goings on where people fight and wonder whether they are a bit more evolved than somebody else and so on.

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All that can just fall away. And then we get this strange feeling that we’ve never had in our lives except occasionally by accident. Some people get a glimpse that we are no longer this poor little stranger and afraid in a world it never made. But that you are this universe. And you are creating it at every moment. Because you see it starts now. It didn’t begin in the past. There was no past. If the universe began in the past, when that happened it was now. But it is still now and the universe is still beginning now and it’s trailing off like the wake of a ship from now and as the wake of the ship fades out, so does the past. You can look back there to explain things but the explanation disappears. You will never find it there. Things are not explained by the past. They’re explained by what happens now. That creates the past. And it begins here.

That’s the birth of responsibility. Because otherwise you can look over your shoulder and say, ‘Well, I am the way I am because my mother dropped me. And she dropped me because she was neurotic because her mother dropped her.’ and we go way way back to Adam and Eve or to a disappearing monkey or something.We never get at it. But in this way you are faced with that you’re doing all this. And that’s an extraordinary shock.

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So cheer up! You can’t blame anyone else for the kind of world you’re in, and that helps a great deal, because most of the good things we are trying to do are based on blaming somebody else and to improve them. ‘Kindly let me help you or you’ll drown,’ said the monkey putting the fish safely up a tree.

If therefore we would stop blaming others, it would be very difficult to go about a war with a straight face. And you see if you know that the I — in the sense of the person, the front, the ego — it really doesn’t exist, then it won’t go to your head too badly if you wake up and discover that you’re god.”

– Alan Watts