Where did our churches and the general population get the idea that individual responsibility is easy? Jesus did not teach a soft easy way. He said, “Take my yoke upon you and learn of me.” He was saying this way is easy because if we are seeking to escape the invariant Universal Principles or Laws, there is no way at all. At the same time he didn’t say that our choices will always be easy. He said, “Take my yoke.” Who wears a yoke? Beasts of labor! This indicates that his yoke requires work. He said, “Learn of me.” What did he teach about learning of him and finding the Kingdom? He taught work on Self. He said, “Straight and narrow is the way and few there will be who will find it.” Work, search, study, yoke, and do – these are all words of action. It is simply not possible to stop the slide of society without starting with each individual self. It is not possible to rectify the wrongs we see without establishing in the minds of each individual the fact of his or her personal responsibility.
How do we avoid a mind set that leads to reactionary thinking and confused ethics? When relative thinking is removed from the picture long enough to see clearly the Universal Truths, right thought can be formulated. Relative thinking is fear based and reactionary. With right thinking we can begin to work on a problem effectively. We create with thought, we have proper perspective, we can know that what we have created in thought exists, believe it will manifest and that it will do so through our actions. If we were all working on ourselves, we would, of necessity, love, give, teach and benefit society as a whole.
How do we recognize faulty thinking that feeds unstable ethics? When a proposition for salvation is presented that sounds easy, it has popular appeal. We say it is a beautiful system that God has created for us. The man says, “I’m in sin now and even God knows how weak I am. He isn’t blaming me. I’m not responsible for my condition. Adam did it! All the good I do in the world isn’t going to get me the kingdom. Thinking is tough. God does it for me and Jesus did all the dirty work by sacrificing himself for this unworthy world. If I revere him, all I have to do is live the best I can, sin as little as possible and I’m home free.”
We cannot escape personal responsibility for what we have done. We can ask forgiveness of those we have harmed. We can make amends and work to balance the books, but no matter what we do, we still are personally responsible for the harm we have done. A murderer, even if he confesses in court and is found legally not accountable for his actions, is still responsible for them. There is no one else. This fact of responsibility cannot be taken away by anyone and is not a responsibility for which Jesus can or would take. It is the murderer’s responsibility, and to begin work on himself and ever balance the scales of justice for his soul, he must start with this recognition. Only through the Law of Balance and Equalization is there a system of complete and perfect justice. Only through this Law can the soul make amends for the crime; and only through this system can the soul evolve and unfold. This principle, which we readily accept in scientific terms as “Cause and Effect” when it comes to physical matter is no less true in the subtle form concerning the soul, spirit or life force.
All the Universal Principles or Laws find expression in natural laws. When we can understand the perfect justice of these Principles, realize our purpose for existence, and exercise the power innate in us all, things become clear. We can see with our eyes, hear with our ears and understand with our hearts. Understanding with the heart comes through understanding with our minds, with our reasoning. “Come let us reason together” is the Biblical admonishment. Understanding is our purpose. It is all we can take with us, and it is all important to gain as much as possible in this cycle of life to maximize our potential.
Each of us has put in place the basis for our soul’s growth. Each experiences what he must. It is our purpose to reason, to learn and create the circumstances most needed. There are no accidents. All is subject to the Law of Evolution and Unfoldment. This does not mean that God is somewhere out there separate from us predetermining everything for us. All that we attract to our learning experience is brought to us by the choices we make and the situations in which we place ourselves. All the diversities of experience, trials and achievements of life can be understood through the knowledge of the essence of man and his evolution – his unfoldment through the stages of his continuing existence. The first step in the process is the acceptance of responsibility for our situations and the choices we make.
If one recognizes that philosophy, like science, has been a process of trial and error, then one would know that to have truth one must discard deficient philosophical thought as one discards a previously accepted scientific truth when it is proven wrong. Philosophy is accumulated knowledge, and if that accumulated knowledge is correct, the philosophy is as perfect in its truth as a scientific law is perfect in its objective truth.
Ethics cannot stand alone without a philosophical base because our rules of behavior are tied to our philosophy of life, whether religious in nature or based upon reason. If our reason is faulty or our religion is based upon the warped understanding of God that has come to monopolize religious thought and ethics, we cannot hope to solve the crisis of human ethics. Each thought creates constructively or destructively. One way or another creation is going on. Fear based thinking has created the destructive results we see today, and love based thinking in harmony with the Universal Laws will create the kind of world we are capable of imagining.