Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Obligation vs Responsibility

I so often hear people say things like, "If I didn't have to do this, then I would have time to do that, which is what I really love to do." I have always challenged this idea. People don't often realize that there is a difference between obligations and responsibilities. Obligations tend to be burdensome. Responsibilities tend to be liberating.

Let's say, for example, that I have offered to feed and walk someone's dog for the two weeks that they are away on vacation. I will certainly do that because I have obliged myself to do so. No matter what else may come up in my life, the dog will get fed and walked. This is an obligation. It is short term and at the end of the term I am free and clear to do whatever I want with the rest of the time I have on this earth. But for the two week period, I am burdened with the dog and its needs.

Now I am also a responsible person. If, for example, while this dog is in my care it should happen to get ill, I will certainly take care of it. I am able to respond to this dog's particular and specific situation. That is what responsibility is. It is the ability to respond.

When we are able to respond we become liberated. We are no longer trapped in the haze and fog of common consciousness. We are able to clearly see what is going on around us and take appropriate action in response to what we are perceiving. As we take action our world unfolds around us in the way it will, according to universal laws that state that all actions have a ripple effect. In the case of the dog, the ripple effect is the gratitude that its owners will feel knowing that, whatever was happening, their dog was cared for and not alone. Should I not respond to the sick dog, then when they come back home the ripple effect is much more negative.

When we apply these principles to every day life and relationships we find that we become more conscious of others' needs as well as of what our own needs might be. Clear communication is then possible and we are able to liberate ourselves from mundane misery and experience full joy and abundance. We then don't have to wait to do what we love to do. We do that and, while we do that, we also respond to the world around us. The thing is that we always have a choice in any situation. Even not choosing is a choice that leads somewhere. As we make our decisions, we allow ourselves to flow with the ripple effect.

Blessed Be


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