Responsibility: terrible burden or wonderful proving ground?


The challenges of what’s called “life balance” are abundant. Modern living, particularly in the Western world, places higher and higher “upkeep” demands on our lifestyles – reducing not just our net available time, but the available attention we can afford to direct towards any given thing – to a minimum.

In the context of skill development and the pursuit of mastery, the word “responsibility” takes on a new level of significance.

For most people, the creative challenge is to balance the amount of working time with the amount of personal time for rest and recreation. But focused intrinsic growth and skill development requires more than just free time. It requires the integration of anindividualized practice and personal principles into all elements of living – both skill-related and otherwise.

For the individual who is committed to reaching higher levels of excellence in any field, there is a sort of “creative discipline” requirement, without which talent remains just raw potential, and skills continue to lay dormant.  Someone once made the distinction between “potential energy” and actual “kinetic energy”, which is energy that has been transformed into its physical equivalent in the world.

The Resistance Phenomenon

For the individual in pursuit of mastery, the need for balance between “upkeep” responsibilities – or necessary tasks for the maintenance of one’s lifestyle, such as work or taking care of one’s family – and the responsibility to one’s urge to learn, build, or otherwise create something new is more pronounced than it is for the average person.

In addition to the difficulties surrounding “necessary” objectives in daily life, there is a phenomenon that is at work around every individual who is involved in conscious growth in any area. It has many faces, but the easiest way to describe it is as a sort of invisible force of resistance that operates whenever we begin to apply effort to accomplish something new.

Anyone who has experienced an initial surge of inspiration in a new undertaking is familiar with it. After a while, a sort of blow-back occurs, and the daily duties of “upkeep” tend to swarm over us, seemingly resisting the very notion of pursuing something new or something other than the status quo. It’s a feeling distinctly recognizable as though everything is conspiring against our efforts.

The need for practice

Now, merely taking time to rest and be idle is no longer enough. But making ourselves slaves to self-imposed duty isn’t the solution we are looking for, either. The necessity for practice becomes immediately apparent.

The word Practice does not refer to habit or repetition as it would in the case of a mechanical skill. It refers to an all-encompassing, all-inclusive conscious implementation of chosen principles on a continuous basis; the same way we call a doctor’s work the practice of medicine, and a lawyer’s work a practice of law. It is understood that to practice a profession is to commit to the highest level of knowledge and skill acquisition on an ongoing basis. At this level, there is no such thing as completion. The practice continues forever, until we expire or willingly decide to do something different.

The establishment of a conscious practice consists of taking three major steps towards overcoming the metaphysical phenomenon of the world’s resistance:

  1. Cultivating intrinsic motivation;
  2. Demonstrating the highest level of commitment;
  3. Adhering to the Principle of Concentration of Effort;

All of these things will be discussed in much greater detail in the upcoming resource of The Personal Achievement Foundation; an online guide dedicated to people for whom lifestyle learning is a way of life.  Look for it under Barriers to Growth here:

The important lesson to remember is that we can crumble in response to the burden placed on us by existing responsibilities, or we can recognize that the circumstance of our life is a reflection of the cause and effect relationships we have created for ourselves with our action, thought and intent.  If we do the latter, the opportunity exists to use our burden as a proving ground for the tests and trials that have befallen on our path.   Sometimes, that is exactly what we must do.  Instead of “dealing” with it, we can choose to look deeper and evaluate whether there are any hidden lessons in the fabric of our reality, and whether we’re meant to experience the burden until we can introspect more consciously and resolve the mechanism by which it is created.  In this way, we “prove” to ourselves and the world that we have derived the necessary meaning and thereby eliminated the need for the burden to exist.

This may not necessarily mean that the responsibility itself is resolved, mind you, because certain responsibilities are just a fact of life.  However, if we can learn to accept them, understand what has troubled us, and continue practicing our position in life in spite of the challenges imposed by it, then it will mean we have grown stronger, more sophisticated, and more adept because of it.  This is what’s meant by the words “proving ground”, as the potential exists for inner resolution that reaffirms the right reasons and motivations behind the actions we take, and continue to take, in our practice.


~ by TheZov on August 10, 2009.

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