By Wes Annac, Culture of Awareness
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” – Rumi
This morning, I felt the need to meditate on the moral responsibility of people who consider themselves ‘awake’ or ‘conscious’. As I did, two thoughts came to mind. One is that we aren’t here to be perfect, and our mistakes teach us and help us evolve. The other is that despite this, we have a responsibility to set an example that the world can live by.
It requires balance, because we have to give ourselves the room to make mistakes while trying to live the changes we want the world to embrace. Since we know that our actions affect the rest of the world, how can we set an example while giving ourselves room to make necessary mistakes?
I think the solution is to do our best and be honest about our imperfection. We can make the personal changes we want the world to embrace and do our best to stick with them, but we can cut ourselves some slack if we mess up. We obviously don’t want to keep making the same mistakes, but it doesn’t help to feel awful about them because we make them for a reason.
The point of our mistakes is to teach us a lesson, and while we have to be accountable for them so we can learn from them, feeling bad about them will keep us from making any progress. Some people make the same mistakes over and over and feel awful about them every time, and their self-imposed guilt keeps them from learning and assuring they don’t make the same mistakes again. Some people don’t feel guilty at all when they mess up, but they feign guilt because they think they should. All they really need to do is learn from their mistakes and move on, and guilt, whether real or forced, only makes it worse.
If you want to set an example for the world to live by, just do your best and be honest with yourself about your mistakes. That’s really all we can do, and when we get past our biggest setbacks, we rediscover non-dualistic consciousness and the idea that there are no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ choices or experiences; only lessons, some of which we teach ourselves by way of our choices.
Being honest about our mistakes or flaws is arguably the best way to get past them, but it requires us to love ourselves enough to be honest without turning on ourselves. A friend once advised me to ‘be my own best friend’ when I write about myself, and this helps when it comes to mistakes or things we feel like we can do better.
We don’t have to turn on ourselves just because we stray from the path, and we can be open and honest about our struggle without victimizing or demonizing ourselves. We just have to remember that we’re spiritual beings who are here to grow, and sometimes, the best lessons come from things we never thought we’d do.
Personally, I don’t always feel like much of a wayshower because I struggle and stray from the path now and then. While being a squeaky clean wayshower sounds nice and could be a goal for me and others who want to help people, I’m not there yet.
Right now, I can only share my feelings about life, society and spirituality while encouraging others to set an example and trying not to stray from my path or any moral obligation implied by my position in this community. In doing so, I can focus on the aspects of my life and my choices that keep me from a truly conscious lifestyle.
We have at least a little bit of a moral obligation (especially if we want to change the world), but I don’t think strict morality matters as much as doing our best and keeping our goals for our personal development in mind. Moreover, I think we should have compassion for those who are trying to make a change but still get caught up in destructive choices and habits, because at least they’re trying. We don’t want to be fooled by someone we think is trying who makes the same mistakes repeatedly, but we don’t want to shun those who are doing their best.
As long as they know there’s an issue that needs addressed and they’re willing to do something about it, we don’t have to be hard on them when they seem to fail.
I think we should set an example and use it to wake up the world, but until we know we can live by it, we can only keep trying and invite our creator to help us. Eventually, we’ll no longer struggle and we can help everyone else through their issues, but we have to learn the lessons that get us to this point (which might require us to mess up a few times) before we can do anything.