Before we enter Yoga Sutra 26, let’s understand what is Individual Responsibility.
Once it happened, I was in the mountains with a few friends. We went to see a point known as the echo point; it was a beautiful spot, very silent, surrounded by hills. One of the friends started barking like a dog. All the hills echoed it – the whole place appeared as if full of thousands of dogs. Then, somebody else started chanting a Buddhist mantra: “Sabbe sanghar anichcha. Sabbe dhamma anatta. Gate, gate, para gate, parasamgate. Bodhi svaha.” The hills became Buddhist; they re-echoed it. The mantra means: “All is impermanent, nothing is permanent; all is flux, nothing is substantial. Everything is without a self. Gone, gone, finally gone, everything gone – the word, the knowledge, the enlightenment too.”
I told the friends who were with me that life is also like this echo point: you bark at it, it barks at you; you chant a beautiful mantra, life becomes a reflection of that beautiful chanting. A life is a mirror. Millions of mirrors around you – every face is a mirror; every rock is a mirror; every cloud is a mirror. All relationships are mirrors. In whatsoever way you are related with life, it reflects you. Don’t be angry at life if it starts barking at you. You must have started the chain. You must have done something in the beginning to cause it. Don’t try to change life; just change yourself, and life changes.
These are the two standpoints: one I call the communistic which says, “Change life, only then can you be happy”; the other I call religious, which says, “Change yourself, and life suddenly becomes beautiful.” There is no need to change society, the world. If you move in that direction you are moving in a false direction which will not lead you anywhere. In the first place, you cannot change it – it is so vast. It is simply impossible. It is so complex and you are here only for a while; and life is very ancient and life is going to be for ever and ever. You are just a guest; an overnight stay and you are gone: gate, gate – gone, gone forever.
How can you imagine, to change it?
Sheer stupidity, which says life can be changed, but there is much appeal in it.
The communistic standpoint has a deep appeal in it. Not because it is true – the appeal comes from some other source: because it does not make you responsible, that is the appeal. Everything else is responsible except you; you are a victim.
“The whole of life is responsible. Change life” – This is appealing for the ordinary mind because no mind wants to feel responsible.
Whenever you are in misery you like to throw the responsibility on somebody.
Anybody will do, any excuse will do, but then you are unburdened. Now you know you are miserable because of this man or that woman, or this type of society, this government, this social structure, this economy – something – or, finally, God is responsible or fate. These are all communistic standpoints. The moment you throw the responsibility on others, you have become a communist; you are no longer religious.
Even if you throw the responsibility on God, you have become a communist. Try to understand me, because communists don’t believe in God, but the whole standpoint of throwing responsibility on somebody else is communistic – then God has to be changed.
That’s what people go on doing in temples: they go and pray to change God.
Those people are all communists. They may be hiding in religious garbs; they are communist. What are you praying? You are saying to God, “Do this, don’t do that”; “My wife is ill, make her healthy.” You are telling the whole, “You are responsible.” You are complaining; deep down your prayer is a complaint. You may be talking very politely, but your politeness is false. You may even be buttering him up, but deep down you are saying, “You are responsible – do something!”
This attitude I call the communist attitude; by it I mean the attitude that, “I am not responsible; I am a victim. The whole of life is responsible.” The religious attitude says, “Life simply reflects.”
Life is not a doer; it is a mirror. It is not doing anything to you, because the same life behaves with Buddha in a different way. Life is the same; it behaves with you in a different way. The mirror is the same, but when you come before the mirror it reflects your face. And if your face is not that of a Buddha, what can the mirror do? When Buddha comes before the mirror, it reflects Buddhahood.
When I say this to you I say so because that’s how I have experienced. Once your face changes, the mirror changes; because a mirror has no fixed standpoint. The mirror is just echoing, reflecting. It does not say anything. It simply shows – it shows you. If life is miserable you must have started the chain. If everybody is against you, you must have started the chain. If everybody feels enmity, you must have started the chain.
Change the cause. And you are the cause. Religion makes you responsible – and that’s how religion makes you free because then it is your freedom to choose. To be miserable or to be happy – it is up to you. Nobody else has anything to do with it. The world will remain the same; you can start dancing, and the whole world dances with you.
They say when you cry you cry alone, when you laugh the whole world laughs with you. No, that is also not true. When you cry the whole world reflects that; when you laugh then too the whole world reflects that. When you cry the whole world feels like crying. When you are sad, look at the moon – the moon looks sad; look at the stars – they look like very great pessimists; look at the river – it doesn’t seem to flow, gloomy, dark. When you are happy then look at the same moon – it is smiling; and the same stars – dancing; and the same river – flowing with a song, all gloom has disappeared.
There are no hells and no heavens. When you have a heaven within you, this world…. And this is the only world there is! Remember, there is no other. When you are filled with heaven within, the world reflects it. When you are filled with hell, the world can’t help, it reflects it.
If you feel responsible yourself, you have started moving in a religious direction.
Religion believes in individual revolution. There is no other – all others are false, pseudo-revolutions. They look like they are changing; they change nothing. They create much fuss about changing – nothing changes. It is not possible to change anything unless you have changed.
These are the sutras about this responsibility: individual responsibility. In the beginning you will feel a little burdened: that, “I am responsible,” and you cannot throw the burden on anybody else. But know well, if you are responsible, then there is hope; you can do something. If others are responsible then there is no hope, because what can you do? You may be meditating, but others are creating trouble; you will suffer. You may become a Buddha, but the whole world remains a hell. You will suffer. In the beginning every freedom is felt as a burden – that’s why people are afraid of freedom.
Erich Fromm has written a beautiful book, THE FEAR OF FREEDOM. I love the title. Why are people so much, afraid of freedom? One should think otherwise; they should not be afraid of freedom. On the contrary, we think everybody wants freedom, but this is my observation also: deep down nobody wants freedom – because freedom is a great responsibility. Then only you are responsible. Then you cannot throw responsibility on somebody else’s shoulders.
Then you don’t have any consolation – if you suffer you suffer for your own causes, for your own self; you have caused it.
But through that burden opens a new door: you can throw it. If I have been causing my miseries I can drop causing them. I have been pedalling the cycle and I am feeling miserable on the cycle and I am tired, and I go on saying, “Stop it,” and I go on pedalling…. It is for me to stop pedalling, and the cycle stops.
Nobody else is pedalling it.
This is the deepest meaning of the theory of karma: that you are responsible.
Once you understand it deeply, that “I am responsible,” already half the work is done. In fact, the moment you realize, “I have been responsible for all that I have been suffering or enjoying,” you have become free, free from the society, free from the world. Now you can choose your own world to live in. This is the only world! – Remember. But you can choose now. You can dance, and the whole dances with you.Tags: Individual Responsibility Patanjali