CHURCH OF THE FINAL JUDGEMENT September 1967
1. 1 Where a person has the power to choose, he has responsibility. Where he accepts his power to choose, he accepts responsibility. Where he rejects his power to choose, he accepts no responsibility.
2 CHOICE CAN BE BOTH CONSCIOUS AND UNCONSCIOUS
3 Conscious choice is where we consciously decide to do something or not to do something, and act on the decision.
4 Examples: 1. You lead a blind man across the road. You have consciously chosen to help him. 2. You slap someone's face. You have consciously chosen to hurt that person.
5 ACCEPTANCE OF CONSCIOUS CHOICE IS A FULL RECOGNITION THAT THE CHOICE IS ENTIRELY OURS, FREELY MADE AND FULLY INTENDED.
6 Rejection of conscious choice lies in attributing it to:
7 a) 'Ungovernable external pressures. Examples: "What alternative did they leave me?" "My duty dictated my choice." "I had to stay within the law." "A sense of loyalty compelled me to do it." "Morality..." "Common sense... "Convention... "Society..." "The urgency of the situation... "Public opinion... "The interests of the family... "The boss..." "My reputation... "My religion..." "My moral obligations... "My principles... "My upbringing...
8 There are countless elements that can seem to dictate our choice for us, and upon them we can convincingly place the responsibility for most of our conscious decisions.
9 b) Unavoidable ignorance of the true state of affairs.
Examples: "How could I have known?" "No one told me." "They told me such and such." "I thought... "I assumed... "I didn't understand... "I didn't know...
10 The Law makes no allowance for ignorance. It regards knowing the Law as a part of our responsibility. Yet society has made ignorance a prime and much used justification for people's failures and mistakes.
11 UNCONSCIOUS CHOICE COVERS EVERYTHING THAT WE CAUSE OR HAVE THE POWER TO CAUSE WITHOUT MAKING A CONSCIOUS DECISION; EVERYTHING THAT WE CHOOSE UNCONSCIOUSLY BUT NO LESS DELIBERATELY.
1. You fall downstairs. You have not chosen consciously to fall downstairs, but nevertheless you have chosen. The choice in this case is unconscious. Thus you are as responsible for your fall as if you had said to Yourself quite consciously; "I am now going to fall downstairs", and done so. The choice is yours; no one else's.
2. You make someone very happy by something you say to them. You had not consciously intended to make them happy. Your remark, so far as you were aware, had another purpose altogether. But nevertheless, unconsciously you had chosen to make him happy and your remark was deliberately calculated to do precisely that. His choice was to be happy, yours was to be the instrument that made him so.
13 ACCEPTANCE of UNCONSCIOUS CHOICE is complete knowledge and awareness of the nature and extent of our power to choose in a situation, a total lack of the need to justify or deny that power, and complete awareness of what it is we are choosing or have already chosen in that situation.
14 REJECTION of UNCONSCIOUS CHOICE lies in:
15 a) Being unaware of the extant of our choice, and attributing circumstances which we have ourselves created to outside agents and forces that are, or seem to be, beyond our control.
16 Examples: "He did it to me." "They made me do it." "He wouldn't let me do it." "It was because of the weather." "I couldn't help it." "Im not in a position to be able to do that." "I'm not capable." "I can't." "It was just bad luck." "It was just good luck." "I couldn't stop him." "I have no choice." "Im helpless." "I didn't mean to." "I was forced to do it." "It's the fault of the government ... the social system ... my education ... my lack of education ... my strict upbringing ... my permissive upbringing ... the Blacks ... the Whites ... the President ... the church ... the communists ... the fascists ... the jews ... or the devil."
17 We are never short of this kind of justification.
18 b) Being oblivious of the implications and significance of the circumstances that we have unconsciously chosen to create.
1. You say something that makes a friend very unhappy, by being completely unaware that you have made him unhappy, you can effectively reject your unconscious choice to do so. You can reject responsibility for what you have quite deliberately done, by being unconscious of it.
2. You have done a job very badly. It has been a complete failure. You have deliberately, though unconsciously, chosen that it SHOULD be so. But in order to avoid any sense of responsibility for having done this, you are unaware that it was a failure. You do not see it as a failure.
3. You fail an examination. Deep down, though you do not allow yourself to be conscious of this, the examination was of very great importance to you. Now you have failed quite deliberately. And, as it happens, you are willing to recognize that it was your unconscious intention to fail. But what you are not willing to recognize is the extent of the failure for you. You reduce the importance of the failure. You remain unaware of the magnitude of what you have done to yourself by failing that particular examination. In this way you evade responsibility for the full implications of your action by being unconscious of them. You knew you have chosen to fail, but refuse to know the full extent to which you have chosen to fail.
RESPONSIBILITY IS CHOICE
2. 1 ACCEPTANCE OF RESPONSIBILITY IS THE AWARENESS OF CHOICE
2 Acceptance of responsibility is not in taking or not taking a particular action in a particular situation, but in recognizing the true extent of choice that we have in a situation, being aware of precisely what we are doing, have done and can do with our power of choice, and all the consequences involved. And finally acting or not acting on the basis of that recognition and awareness.
3 TO BE AWARE IS TO BE RESPONSIBLE, AS LONG AS WE ACCEPT OUR AWARENESS AS A VALID STANDPOINT AND BASIS FOR OUR ACTIONS AND DECISIONS.
4 We cannot judge a person's level of responsibility by what he does or does not do, except inasmuch as it reflects the extent of his awareness. For it is his awareness of the implications, the significance and the consequences of what he is doing or not doing that defines his level of responsibility, and not the rightness or wrongness, according to our values, of his action.
5 And we will be easily deceived by ourselves if we ASSUME that a person is unaware and therefore irresponsible, simply because he is doing something that we consider wrong and would choose not to do, or that he is aware and therefore responsible because he does things that we consider to be right and would choose to do ourselves. This is compulsive identification and is a totally unreliable form of assessment.
6 NO ACTION OR NON ACTION, HOWEVER APPARENTLY MORAL, CONSTRUCTIVE, ETHICAL, CONSIDERATE, HUMANITARIAN, RELIGIOUS, SOCIABLE, HEROIC OR PROGRESSIVE IS NECESSARILY RESPONSIBLE.
7 It does not necessarily stem from a standpoint of acceptance or responsibility, because it does not necessarily stem from awareness.
NO ACTION OR NON ACTION, HOWEVER APPARENTLY IMMORAL, DESTRUCTIVE, UNETHICAL, INCONSIDERATE, ANTI-HUMANITARIAN, IRRELIGIOUS, ANTISOCIAL, COWARDLY OR RETROGRESSIVE IS NECESSARILY IRRESPONSIBLE.
9 It does not necessarily stem from a rejection of responsibility, because it does not necessarily stem from unawareness.
10 The only true criterion is our awareness and our attitude to our awareness.
11 If a person is unaware of what he is doing, the consequences of what he is doing, the nature of the effects he is creating and the motives behind his actions, then he is rejecting his power of choice, and thus his responsibility.
12 If a person is aware of these things and discounts his awareness, invalidates it to himself, and puts a lie in it's place, he still rejects responsibility.
13 If however he is aware, knows precisely what he is doing, it's implications, significance, and consequences; sees clearly the nature of the effects he is creating, and is totally open with himself about the true motives behind his actions, this then is a truly responsible person.
1. You are given some important information and asked not to divulge it to anyone. You tell a friend, and as a result someone else loses his job, at which you are utterly amazed and extremely upset. Your reaction is: "Well, how was I to know? I thought. . . You see. . . ', and so on. Now your irresponsibility in this situation is not the divulging of the secret. It is not in doing something you were asked not to do. Nor is it in causing someone to lose his job. No action, however apparently 'wrong-, is necessarily irresponsible. No, your rejection of responsibility is - in unawareness of the consequences of your actions, or the possible consequences of them. You were not even taking a calculated risk, and - in your ignorance of the fact that if your action caused someone to lose his job then you deliberately chose that this should happen.
2. You bewail your financial difficulties and blame the government for over taxing you. And your employer for underpaying you. You are convinced that you are the victim of exploitation and mismanagement. So you 'strike' ' and because several million others with roughly similar attitudes to yours 'strike' also. Your country's economy is hurt. You suffer a worse deprivation than ever, continue to bewail your lot, blaming now not only the government and your employer, but the entire system. Now again your irresponsibility is not in 'striking', nor is it in contributing to a national crisis. These actions could stem from perfectly responsible attitudes. Your irresponsibility is your unawareness a) of the probable consequences of your actions both to yourself and nationally, b) of your own deliberate intention to play a part in bringing about these consequences, and c) of the extent of choice you have in your own circumstances, i.e. that if you are unable to make ends meet, its because you choose to be that way. Maybe it is an inadequate system, but you choose to be at the painful end of it. Maybe there is mismanagement but you choose to lose by it. Maybe there is exploitation, but you choose to put yourself in an exploitable position. There is nothing irresponsible about choosing any of these things, the irresponsibility lies to the fact that you are unaware that you have deliberately chosen them.
RESPONSIBILITY IS CHOICE
3. 1 IT IS OUR CHOICE TO FAIL. IT IS EQUALLY OUR CHOICE TO SUCCEED.
2 We do not reject responsibility only for our failures and inadequacies, although this is the most common area. We also reject it for our successes and our good qualities. We 'disown' our successes in much the same way that we 'disown' our failures. Either we remain unaware of them by now seeing the implications and significance of our actions, or if we cannot fail to see them, we attribute them to circumstances beyond our control.
1. You are promoted in your job. Instead of recognizing that this is your own deliberate choice, you attribute it to sheer good luck. By so doing you accept no responsibility for causing your own promotion.
2. You go to a meeting and during it you provide intense stimulation for all those present, so that they leave enriched by the experience. However, you are completely unaware of the effect that you have created; and when complimented on the fact that you 'made' the evening for everybody, you 'modestly' brush the compliment aside and deny having done any such thing. First of all you reject responsibility for the effect you have created, by being oblivious of it. Secondly, when faced with the effect, you reject the responsibility of having created it.
4 MODESTY IS A FORM OF IRRESPONSIBILITY. IT REFLECTS A STATE OF UNAWARENESS OR NON ACCEPTANCE OF A QUALITY OR ACHIEVEMENT IN SELF
5 Now it is not hard to understand why we reject responsibility for our failures and inadequacies, either by being unaware of them or by justifying them. We feel that they reduce our stature, and we do not like our stature reduced. We do not like to feel inadequate. We do not like to have a sense of failure. But why then do we bring failure upon ourselves? Why do we choose to be inadequate? For the same reason that we justify or remain oblivious or our successes and our superior qualities.
6 If all we wanted was success and adequacy, than all we would have would be success and adequacy. All we would choose would be success and adequacy. Also, we would never need to shut our eyes to our successes or shift responsibility for them. We would not need to attribute our achievements to other people. We would give credit and gratitude where they are due. But we would not disown our own personal choice to succeed.
7 So why, as well as being shy of failure, are we also shy of success?
8 Because although we do not want too small a stature, we do not want to feel inferior. We do not want to be burdened by a permanent sense of failure and inadequacy. On the other hand; nor do we want too great a stature, for fear of what might be expected and demanded of us, both by ourselves and by other people.
9 If we show brilliance, than brilliant achievements will be expected and demanded of us. If we are aware of our brilliance, then we shall feel obligated to realize it; to make use of it. We shall demand brilliant achievements of ourselves. The same if we show our ability to help people and recognize that ability ourselves. Everyone, ourselves included, will expect us to make full use of it.
10 So the effect of displaying our qualities, both to ourselves and to other people is to enlarge our area of 'known' responsibility. To make us aware of a wider scope of choice than we want to know about. To show us the extent of our power to choose. Nothing can change the ACTUAL extent of our power to choose, the ACTUAL scope of our responsibility. But success can extend our AWARENESS of this scope. Where before we consciously felt no obligation, no need for fulfillment in a particular direction; and therefore no conscious burden of responsibility in that direction. Now that obligation appears, and we realize that there are moves we have to make, tasks we have to undertake, functions we have to perform, responsibilities we have to take upon ourselves which before we had effectively hidden behind the curtain of our own awareness.
11 Blindness achieves nothing ultimately, but we have convinced ourselves of its effectiveness. We have persuaded ourselves that what we cannot see is not there. What we do not know about does not exist. Therefore we have an unconscious agreement that the scope of our responsibility is equal to the extent of our awareness of the scope of our responsibility. Therefore we feel that by expanding or contracting our awareness, we expand or contract our power of choice. Not so. The extent of the power of choice, the scope of our responsibility does not change. Only our awareness of it changes as we choose to see more or less of the true and complete picture. And the size of the gap between our vision of the scope of our responsibility and the true scope, is the extent of the lie by which we live.
12 But why do we wish to reduce the scope of our responsibility, and thus attempt to do so by reducing our awareness of it?
13 Because, again, we are afraid of failure. We are afraid of the demands that might be made upon us, because we might prove inadequate to meet those demands. We are afraid to expect things of ourselves, because we might let ourselves down.
14 WE WANT OUR STANDARDS LOW, SO THAT WE CAN MEET THEM AND THEREFORE NOT FEEL INADEQUATE.
15 Either way, the enemy is ultimately a sense of failure. A feeling of inadequacy and inferiority, of dissatisfaction with self; of lack of fulfillment. If we fail according to our standards, and are aware that we have failed, then the feeling is with us, the enemy has a victory. If we succeed beyond our standards, or achieve something outside the limits we have set ourselves, and are aware of our success or our new found capability, then we are forced to raise our standards. Or extend the limits of our expectation of ourselves; and thus we become just that much more susceptible to a sense of failure. Just that much more vulnerable to the enemy.
You sit for a scholarship, because you are considered academically clever enough to have a fair chance of winning it. No one demands that you win the scholarship; you have not shown abilities that would lead people to take it for granted that you will. Nor do you demand it of yourself No one will blame you if you fail, nor look down on you. And you will not blame yourself You might feel some disappointment, but you will not feel that you have had a dismal failure. If you should win the scholarship on the other hand, everyone's assessment of your academic ability will go up, including your own. A possibility will have become a certainty. Consequently from that moment on, much more will be expected of you than was before. Your future academic career will be predicted on a very high level. You will be expected to progress much faster than other students of your age who have not won scholarships. Your success will not only be expected but assumed, taken completely for granted. If you do not emerge with honors and prizes, everyone, yourself included will feel extremely let down. You could be accused of laziness and irresponsibility. Whereas, if you fail the exam, nothing more than a slightly better than moderate performance will be expected of you. If you should win a prize you will feel a great sense of achievement and you will be praised - and it can always be attributed to excessively hard work, as opposed to too much brilliance - and if you should not win a prize, no one, not even yourself, will be disappointed in you.
Faced with sitting for the scholarship that would probably not be your conscious assessment of the situation. But it would most certainly be your unconscious assessment of it. And unconsciously it is quite likely that you would decide to fail the exam. And your decision, on the basis of the above argument, would be a perfectly logical one. And if you unconsciously decide to fail, whatever your conscious attitude might be, you would fail. And that would be your choice.
RESPONSIBILITY IS CHOICE
4. 1 THE SCOPE OF A PERSON'S RESPONSIBILITY IS THE EXTENT OF HIS POWER OF CHOICE.
2 The scope of his awareness of his responsibility is the extent to which he recognizes his power of choice.
3 The scope of a person's responsibility includes everything - people, groups of people, situations, circumstances, objects, groups of objects, environments and events - past, present and future; upon which he has the power to create an effect, should he choose or had he chosen to do so. It also includes every effect which he has or has had the power to create, and every action which he has or has had the power to take.
4 We have the power to create effects upon everything with which we have or could have any kind of contact, direct or indirect.
5 The nature and the extent of the effect which we have the power to create on something depends upon the nature and the extent of the contact which it is within our power to have with that thing.
6 Therefore everything with which we have or could have any kind of contact, direct or indirect, comes within the scope or our responsibility.
1. You have a friend and you have the power to create effects upon him through your contact with him. He comes within the scope of your responsibility.
2. You are a newspaper columnist, therefore you have the power to create effects on the readers of your newspaper. They come within the scope of your responsibility.
3. You are invited to a party. You can go or not as you choose. You have the power to create an effect on the party and the other people at the party, because you have the power to make contact with them if you choose to go. Consequently the party comes within the scope of your responsibility.
4. As an employer, as well as having a direct contact with your employees, which brings them within the scope of your responsibility, you also have an indirect contact, through them, with their wives and families, and even their friends and neighbor, which gives you the power to create effects upon all these people, and therefore brings them also into the scope of your responsibility.
8 Whoever we are, whatever may be our position in the world, we have the power to make some kind of contact, direct or indirect, with people and situations and objects. Even the knowledge or the awareness of the existence of something or someone gives us the power to make contact of some kind or another and therefore to create an effect.
9 But remember also that the scope of our responsibility is defined, not only by whom or by what we have the power to effect, in other words, the purely physical extent of our power of choice, but even more significantly, by the nature and the extent of the effects which we have the power to create upon those things and people. And this of course depends upon the nature and extent of our contact or potential contact with them.
The effects which a man has the power to create upon his wife are much stronger, more complex, and more far reaching than those which he can choose to create on an acquaintance, whom he has the opportunity of meeting once and year.
Similarly the effects he can create on his own home environment, are far greater and more numerous than those he can choose to create on someone else's.
11 THE INDIVIDUAL HAS THE POWER AND THE CHOICE TO HAVE PERMANENT DIRECT AND COMPLETE CONTACT WITH HIMSELF.
12 Therefore he and everything about him is permanently within the scope of his responsibility, and the extent of the effects an individual has the power to create upon himself, whether consciously or unconsciously, is limitless.
13 Whatever we are or are not, whatever we do or do not do, whatever happens to us or does not happen to us, whatever we think, feel, know, see or sense in any way, whatever we experience or do not experience, all these effects upon ourselves we have or have had the power to create or not create. Therefore all of these effects or non-effects we ourselves have chosen, consciously or unconsciously. Everything that happens to us, we have chosen should happen to us. Everything that we do we have chosen to do. Everything that we think and feel, we have chosen to think and feel. Everything that we experience we have chosen to experience.
1. If you are unhappy, it is because you choose to be unhappy. Certainly, you may use someone else to help you to bring about the state, but whatever the effect he has on you, it is your choice that he should have such an effect. His choice is to be used by you to create your state or unhappiness.
2. If you are ill, it is because you choose to be ill. Of course there is a germ or virus or some other organic agent that produced the illness. Your choice is to become subject to the agent, to use it to bring about your illness.
15 If a man consciously chooses to shoot himself with a gun, no one suggests that the gun is to blame for his death, and that the man had no power over the gun's decision to kill him. However, if a man unconsciously chooses to lay himself low with cancer, then no one questions the assumption that the man had no choice in the matter, that cancer was responsible for his condition and he the unfortunate victim.
RESPONSIBILITY IS CHOICE
5. 1 Choice is the power to choose.
2 Whatever the full extent of our fundamental power to choose, there is no doubt that we have severely limited it superficially. For instance I can say: "It is not within my power to fly, therefore it is not my choice that I do not fly." But that is no different from cutting off my hands and then saying: "It is not within my power to pick up things, therefore it is not my choice that I do not do so."
3 Basically, we are not human beings: we are universal beings, free souls journeying through time. And we have chosen to be human as part of our journey. We have taken on the limitations of a human existence and therefore become subject to its laws. We have chosen for a period to limit the extent of our choice. But even within the narrow confines of this human existence we still choose to limit ourselves even further; some of us more than others. We give ourselves incapabilities, inadequacies, ignorance and blindness. We deliberately reduce the immediate extent of our choice, and therefore within the scope of our responsibility.
4 So let us be quite clear that everything that happens to us, is, on some level or other, our choice, our decision, and therefore our responsibility.
5 But, you may protest, "If someone throws a stone at me, how can that be my choice? Surely it is his choice".
6 Quite correct. If someone throws a stone at you that is his choice. But if you are hit by a stone, that is your choice. His choice is to throw it; yours is to be hit by it. Your choice is to be afraid or unafraid, injured or unharmed. You might even be killed if that is your intention. Also, you have already chosen to put yourself in a position so that this whole situation can arise. You have chosen to be here. You have chosen to have no protection from the man throwing the stone. You may even have provoked him.
7 Your choice is what happens to you and your relationship to what happens to him.
8 If you hurt someone it is his choice to be hurt, it is your choice to do the hurting. What happens to him is his choice; your relationship to what happens to him is your choice. The part that you play in what happens to him, the effect that it has on you, your response to it, the fact that you are creating a specific effect on him, all these elements are your choice and therefore come within the scope of your responsibility.
6. 1 But whose choice, for instance, is a failed marriage? The wife's or the husband's?
2 It is a mutual choice, the choice of both of them. Both, consciously or unconsciously, want and have chosen a failed marriage.
3 But what if the husband wants a successful marriage and the wife a failed one?
4 Then the two do not marry one another. Even though we very rarely know and even more rarely openly state our unconscious intentions, we project them strongly. It is in fact on the wavelength of these unconscious projections that we really communicate with one another. Thus two people who unconsciously desire a failed marriage are drawn together on the basis of this mutual wish. Though of course they will find countless conscious rationalisations for their attraction to one another, the real links will be such as this shared desire for a failed relationship. They are sending out powerful signals all the time on this level, and each responds equally unconsciously, to the other's signals. And it is on this basis, the basis of true intention, not conscious protest or outward appearance, that such attachments are formed.
5 The situation is complicated by countless other unconscious desires of varying intensity and importance on both sides, and consequently the final decision to marry is only made and implemented on the basis of an overall mutual conclusion that a situation that will 'satisfy' both partners can be created.
6 And, depending on the nature of a persons unconscious needs, such 'satisfaction could well constitute sheer hell. Whatever their conscious protests, many people unconsciously seek only suffering. That is their choice, so that is their fate. Consequently they will look for partners who they can be sure will give it to them, partners who project the message that giving people hell satisfies THEIR unconscious needs.
7 But if to begin with, both husband and wife want a failed marriage, and then when they have one, one of them changes, What then?
8 Either the one who has chosen to change helps to bring about a change in the other which of course depends upon the CHOICE of the other, whether or not to change also or they will separate, because a relationship together no longer satisfied both their needs. Then each would find his or her wish elsewhere. The one who had changed would either find a successful relationship or would remain isolated, depending on the nature of the change. Meanwhile the other would most likely find another relationship in which to create and be subject to the still required failure.
9 Why should anyone want a failed marriage anyway?
10 As a limitation; in order to be able to say to him or herself; If only my marriage were not in such a poor state I could do so and so, be so and so, have so and so. It helps a person to put a justifiable distance between himself and his expectations of himself. If for instance a man has (in his terms and remember such terms as success and failure are totally relative) a successful marriage, he then has no excuse, no justification that will persuade him that it is not his fault, and therefore no reduction of him, that he falls short of his demands upon himself. In this case he will, if he needs such a justification, have to create for himself another limitation, another justifiable handicap on which to pin the responsibility for his inadequacies.
11 If the nature of the relationship between two people is the choice of both of them, how can each person take COMPLETE responsibility for it?
12 Because responsibility is not a divisible item. Choice is personal, individual and total, and so is responsibility. A relationship has two altogether separate aspects, each representing a complete decision and a complete choice on its own. There is on one side, everything that happens to one of the partners in the relationship, everything he does, does not do, says, does not say, feels, does not feel, thinks, does not think, has, does not have, experiences, does not experience, etc. On the other side there is everything that happens to the other partner.
13 ACCEPTING RESPONSIBILITY IS NOT A MATTER OF APPORTIONING BLAME OR CREDIT. IT IS A MATTER OF RECOGNISING CHOICE.
14 It would be a worthless and meaningless activity to divide the responsibility for Xs and Ys relationship BETWEEN X and Y. To say that that particular failure is Xs fault, whereas the credit for such and such a success should go to Y, although of course Y is also primarily to blame for that disaster, and so on. This achieves nothing. The only valid activity with regard to responsibility in a relationship is that each partner should recognise and accept the full extent of his or her choice in the relationship. Bearing in mind that the fact (say) that X is unhappy about Y, involves two completely distinct choices. Y chooses to make X unhappy and X chooses to be unhappy because of Y. By all means X may recognise Ys choice in the situation, but if he uses it to negate, or justify his own choice, then he is accepting no responsibility. Acceptance of responsibility is a matter of being aware of the full extent and nature of our own choice and our own power to choose in a situation, and not of stressing someone elses.
You have a quarrel with your friend. You feel bad about it, and you say to yourself; "Hes so stubborn. He doesnt know what hes talking about, but he goes on insisting hes right. All I want to do is get my point across to him. I dont want to have an argument, but he refuses to listen, so I cant help getting angry. Now he wont speak to me at all. What can I do?
This attitude is simply pinning labels on an emotional reaction that stems directly from a sense of failure. The sense of failure is fine. Your choice. The emotional reaction is fine. Again your choice. But the labels are nothing; meaningless lies, a charade, a total rejection of responsibility. The truth is that you have chosen to alienate your friend and you have chosen to feel bad as a result. Also it is within your power to effect a reconciliation or not as you choose. Effecting a reconciliation would not necessarily be a responsible action. Nor would choosing to continue the quarrel necessarily be an irresponsible action. The criterion as always is the extent of awareness of the situation, and of your choice in it, the motives and implications behind your choice and of the possible consequences of your choice. If you act from a standpoint of awareness, then whatever action you take is a responsible one. If you act from blindness and self-deception then equally whatever action you take is irresponsible.
RESPONSIBILITY IS CHOICE
7. 1 EVERYONE IS UNCONSCIOUSLY AWARE OF THE TRUE EXTENT OF HIS OWN CHOICE, AND THEREFORE OF THE NATURE AND SCOPE OF HIS RESPONSIBILITY.
2 A RESPONSIBLE PERSON IS ONE WHO ALLOWS HIMSELF TO BE CONSCIOUSLY AWARE OF THE EXTENT OF HIS OWN POWER TO CHOOSE AND ACCEPTS IT.
3 AN IRRESPONSIBLE PERSON IS ONE WHO EITHER DOES NOT ALLOW HIMSELF TO BE AWARE OF THE FULL EXTENT OF HIS OWN POWER TO CHOOSE, OR WHERE HE CANNOT FAIL TO BE AWARE OF IT, DENIES IT AND REJECTS THE AWARENESS.
4 A responsible person, by his very awareness, is outside the conflict between compulsively taking responsibility and compulsively rejecting responsibility.
5 An irresponsible person, through his unawareness, through his unwillingness to see either the extent of his power to choose or precisely what he has chosen or is choosing, is caught between rejecting responsibility that is his, and demanding responsibility that is not his. He alternates between compulsive responsibility and compulsive non-responsibility. Neither is acceptance of responsibility, because both stem from a standpoint of unawareness of the true state of affairs.
You have a quarrel with your friend. You feel desperately guilty, blame yourself for the entire situation, insist that it was none of your friends fault and punish yourself with a bout of excessive remorse. Also you convince your friend completely, that you have done the unforgiveable and nothing will ever be the same again.
7 This is an example of both compulsive demand for and compulsive rejection of responsibility. By blaming yourself, by insisting that you take responsibility for your friends choice as well as your own, and also by persuading yourself that you have caused effects which you have not in fact caused at all, you are demanding responsibility for things for which you are not responsible. On the other hand by protesting that the situation is beyond recall, in other words that there is nothing either you or anyone else can do to change it for the better, you are rejecting the fact that if you choose to do so, you yourself can improve the situation both from your personal point of view and from the point of view of your relationship with your friend.
8 You are rejecting your power of choice and therefore your responsibility.
RESPONSIBILITY IS CHOICE
8. 1 THERE ARE FOUR LEVELS OF RESPONSIBILITY
2 LEVEL ONE: DETACHMENT IS THE MAJOR CHARACTERISTIC ON THIS LEVEL. DETACHMENT FROM THE WHOLE CONCEPT OF RESPONSIBILITY.
3 LEVEL ONE IS ABOVE AND OUTSIDE THE CONFLICT BETWEEN COMPULSIVE RESPONSIBILITY AND COMPULSIVE NON-RESPONSIBILITY.
4 A person reaches this level when he is totally aware of the extent of his power to choose. He accepts the entire scope of his responsibility, and bases all his actions and decisions on his knowledge of it. Such a person feels no guilt or remorse, unless he chooses to descend into the conflict and play the game inherent in it. But such a choice is a free and conscious choice rather than an unconscious compulsive one.
5 LEVEL TWO: BLAME IS THE MAJOR CHARACTERISTIC ON THIS LEVEL. BLAME OF SELF AND OTHERS.
6 LEVEL TWO IS THE LEVEL OF COMPULSIVE RESPONSIBILITY, THE LEVEL OF SELF INFLICTED BURDENS OF EXPIATION, OF SELF-BLAME, OR SELF- DEPRIVATION.
7 For someone on this level unawareness of the scope of his responsibility takes the form of exaggeration, of feeling he has done terrible things that he has not done, of thinking that he has created bad effects that he has not created, of compulsively trying to increase rather than decrease the scope of his responsibility. For instances, he will blame himself for something in which he has in fact had no part whatever. This is not an acceptance of responsibility through an awareness of the power of choice, it is a demand for responsibility in the form of a burden. It is the compulsive need to bear the brunt of everything, to take the blame for everything, to expiate.
8 People of this level tend to look at the worst in everything. They pile a heavy burden of failure and loss upon their own needs and very often on the heads of those around them, on the basis of straight identification; I want it, so presumable everyone else must want it but at the same time they see failure where there is none, they see wrongness where in everyone elses terms Neither are right. They blame themselves and everyone else.
9 BLAME IS MAKING WRONG
10 They need to feel that life is an endurance, and if they can find nothing to endure they create something, and if they cannot create anything, they imagine something. They suffer and that bear the suffering with tight-lipped stoicism, seeing it as the burden of life that must be borne. They are scornful and intolerant of those who cannot bear the burden, succumb to it and decline into victimishness.
11 LEVEL THREE: JUSTIFICATION IS THE MAJOR CHARACTERISTIC ON THIS LEVEL. JUSTIFICATION OF SELF AND OTHERS.
12 LEVEL THREE IS THE OTHER SIDE OF THE CONFLICT FROM LEVEL TWO, THE LEVEL OF COMPULSIVE NON-RESPONSIBILITY, THE LEVEL OF SELF- INDULGENCE, OF TAKING THE EASY WAY WHEREVER POSSIBLE.
13 Here the need is to minimise the scope of responsibility, to decrease it. People on this level act in the reverse way to those on Level Two. The latter attempt to make things wrong even when they are right. The former do the opposite. They want to make everything right even when it is wrong.
14 JUSTIFICATION IS MAKING RIGHT.
15 It is a beautiful sounding philosophy except that it never works, because it necessitates a lie. Either it means shifting blame onto something or someone else (generally unspecified). Its not my fault, I have no choice, Its not up to me, etc.; or it means pretending that nothing is wrong, minimising the sense of failure; Its really not so bad, Its not important, It doesnt matter, when it is and it does. Again, no acceptance of responsibility whichever way is used, but this time a demand for it to be taken away, a compulsion to try to reduce it as opposed to adding to it.
16 And it is applied to others as well as to self. The need to make right extends beyond self, just as does the need to make wrong. Justification of others; Dont blame him, "He couldnt help it, It wasnt his fault, He really didnt do too badly, He doesnt mind, Hes not as bad as all that, etc. is as important to the person on Level Three as justification of himself.
17 But if you have a sense of failure and you try to tell yourself that in fact youre not failing at all or that the failure isnt YOURS but something or someone elses, you may convince yourself on a superficial level, but somewhere you know that it is not true. If you know deep down that you have chosen deliberately to do a particular thing, it is useless to try and shift the responsibility for it onto something outside your control. Equally if you know deep down that what you have done feels wrong, it is useless to try to convince yourself that is feels right. In both cases you will only convince yourself on the surface.
18 LEVELS TWO AND THREE ARE TWO ASPECTS OF ONE LEVEL. THEY CONSTITUTE THE HUMAN GAME, THE CONFLICT BETWEEN SELF-BLAME AND SELF-JUSTIFICATION, COMPULSIVE RESPONSIBILITY AND COMPULSIVE NON-RESPONSIBILITY.
19 They are two sides of the same coin; Irresponsibility. Humanity is caught between them, oscillating from one to the other, blindly struggling sometimes to justify itself and sometimes to expiate for its inadequacies, and often trying to combine the two. At one moment a person will bewail the fate of the victims, insist that they have no choice and heap responsibility for their state upon his own head. In the next breath he will very convincingly shift all responsibility onto a small group of materially powerful men, whom he and his fellow human beings have chosen to lead and control them. Either way, people on these two levels, continually pin the wrong labels onto their reactions and emotions, because they have chosen to be unaware of the true scope and nature of their responsibility.
20 And they move between the levels in a cycle. They have a conflict: to demand responsibility or to reject responsibility. Although a person may be enacting one level, he is by no means free of the other side of the conflict. The human conflict between self-blame and expiation on one hand and self- justification and the evasion of consequences on the other is the level on which most of humanity plays its game, and an agonising game it is.
21 LEVEL FOUR: OBLIVIOUSNESS IS THE MAJOR CHARACTERISTIC ON THIS LEVEL. OBLIVIOUSNESS OF THE WHOLE CONCEPT OF RESPONSIBILITY.
22 LEVEL FOUR IS BELOW AND OUTSIDE THE CONFLICT OF LEVELS TWO AND THREE. A PERSON IS ON THIS LEVEL WHEN THE WHOLE CONCEPT OF RESPONSIBILITY IS TOTALLY UNREAL TO HIM.
23 He does not feel the need either to expiate or justify. Guilt is meaningless to him. He feels, but not in terms of right or wrong, responsibility or non- responsibility, success or failure. He simply is what he is, does what he feels like doing and remains oblivious of the tortuous game that is being played out around choice and no choice.
24 This level has strong similarities with Level One on all appearances. Amoral people, for instance are to be found on both levels. But the vital difference is the level of awareness. Level Four is a level of great limitation, because where there is blindness there is little freedom. The BASIC extent of the power to choose is unchanged, but the immediate and apparent extent of it is heavily reduced. If a man has his leg amputated he does not alter one whit the overall scope of his responsibility but he drastically reduces his CURRENT scope; like a man who owns an enormous house, but locks himself into one room and throws the key out of the window.
25 The person on Level Four has reduced his awareness of the scope of his responsibility so completely that the whole concept of responsibility has become meaningless to him, whereas the person on Level One has increased his awareness to such an extent, that he has risen above the conflict between demanding responsibility that isnt there and discarding responsibility that IS there, and reached a plateau of detachment from all compulsive activity in that area.
26 THE MAJORITY OF PEOPLE ARE ON LEVELS TWO AND THREE. CONFLICTED ON ONE SIDE THEY WANT TO TAKE MORE AND MORE RESPONSIBILITY ONTO THEIR SHOULDERS, INCREASE THE EXTENT OF THEIR POWER TO CHOOSE, AND ON THE OTHER SIDE THEY WANT TO SHIFT RESPONSIBILITY, JUSTIFY THEMSELVES AND LAY CLAIM TO THE MINIMUM AMOUNT OF CHOICE OVER THEIR CIRCUMSTANCES. AS A RESULT THEY GO AROUND IN AN ENDLESS CIRCLE, ALTERNATELY TRYING TO EXPAND AND CONTRACT THE SCOPE OF THEIR RESPONSIBILITY, BUT IN FACT CHANGING NOTHING BUT THE NATURE OF THEIR OWN ILLUSIONS ABOUT THEMSELVES.
27 Often they stagnate in the centre of the conflict, fix on a pattern for themselves which gives them a scope of responsibility into which they can fit themselves without any great intensity either of demanding or discarding responsibility, and then close down on all emotions that might drive them one way or the other. To do this they must suppress all their natural instincts, and live in a self created vacuum shut off from themselves as they really are. Then they can behave according to a set of rules imposed from without instead of dictated from within, and although responsibility is real and meaningful for them, it is in terms of an external convenient code, instead of the painful demands of an internal conflict.
As it is, so be it. [ Signature -- Robert ]
September 1967 ROBERT DE GRIMSTON
THIS MATERIAL IS THE PROPERTY OF THE PROCESS
Return to Logics Return to Process Teachings