Nisargadatta Maharaj said, “love says ‘I am everything.’ Wisdom says ‘I am nothing.’ Between the two, my life flows.” Likewise, for me, love says, “100% responsibility for everything” and wisdom says “0% responsibility for anything.” Between the two, my life flows.
Let’s start with wisdom. Responsibility ultimately does not exist. Responsibility is a creation of the mind and requires duality to exist. Responsibility is only personal and we apply it to only things with a will and higher thought (i.e. humans mostly).
We do not talk about the responsibility the sky or mountains have, because they are not alive (as we use the term usually). We do not talk about the responsibility the trees and flowers have, because although alive…they do not have wills and consciousness (as we use the term usually). We do not talk about the responsibility that dogs and cats have to their owners, because although alive with a will…they do not have higher consciousness perhaps. We only talk about responsibility regarding humans.
In form of an analogy, what is the responsibility of the stomach to the heart? What is the responsibility of the heart to the stomach? You could say the stomach is responsible for digesting food and the heart is responsible for pumping blood through the body. However, that is not responsibility. You just described what they are…their natures. The stomach’s nature is to digest food. The heart’s nature is to pump blood. That is what makes them what they are. They do not feel responsibility…a debt or liability…they just do what they do.
When we use the term responsibility…often we are referring to liability in the form of debt and fault. If a boy gets a girl pregnant, he has to take responsibility and marry her and provide for the family (as the old story goes). It is his fault and so he owes his child. But some boys refuse to take responsibility and “abandon” the girl…this too is a repeating story. So if some take responsibility and some don’t take responsibility…then isn’t responsibility a mental creation that some accept and others do not? Responsibility is not an absolute. Responsibility is also highly subjective.
Let’s move onto love. In nonduality it is Self-Love and so it would also be Self-responsibility because there is not anything other than the Self. This would make you 100% responsible for everything within your experience, knowledge, etc. Two hurricanes – Harvey and Irma – have ripped through Texas and Florida. You are aware of them (at least now you are) and so you are responsible for them. Those hurricanes are not other than the Self.
With this viewpoint, there is no guilt or shame…there is only – “what can you do about it?” Perhaps you go to the location and help with relief efforts. Perhaps you send money to an organization working on the relief efforts. Perhaps you start fundraising to send money to an organization working on relief efforts. Perhaps you just pray for them. If praying is all that can be done by this body/mind right now, then that is what will be done.
I don’t pray, but I practice Ho’oponopono in these situations. I will not go into it too much, but I will say it is based on accepting 100% responsibility and then letting go of repeating patterns. It is a technique to clear away repeating patterns within yourself that manifest as issues internally and externally. It also tends to bring together into unity…it does not let you keep a distance from anything internal or external. The four main phrases on Ho’oponopono is: I am sorry, please forgive me, thank you, and I love you. Each has the effect of opening and unifying and allowing.
In nonduality, you can say there is no responsibility or you can say there is 100% responsibility…but you can not pick and choose portions. There is the Self and no other, so how could picking and choosing happen? If there is only the Self, you can not claim responsibility for solely this specific body/mind and life. That would be creating a duality…I/me/my and other. My responsibility and other people’s responsibility…this is part of the illusion of duality.
This illusion of separation is exactly what the jnani has seen through. When the illusion of separation goes, “responsibility” no longer has the same meaning. Some may say responsibility ceases all together…and that wouldn’t be wrong. Some may say there is 100% responsibility for everything…and that wouldn’t be wrong. Upon awakening, the meaning for “responsibility” no longer fits the typical meaning bound by duality.