Our biggest responsibility of all is a spiritual one.
You are not a physical body with a soul dwelling it. You are a soul being dwelling temporarily with a physical body.
This is a very important point. I cannot prove it for you; only you can prove it for yourself. But I can illustrate it.
Consider what your physical body is. It is a collection of chemical elements, configured as molecules, cells, tissues, fluids, bones, and so on. The scientific community generally agrees that every one of the nearly ten thousand trillion trillion atoms in a typical human body, comprising around one hundred trillion cells, gets replaced over the years—often cited as seven years. But at the very least, we know that skin can be scraped off and it regenerates, hair drops out and more grows back in, blood may be lost and it gets replaced, and so on. Yet, through all of this physical change, we still maintain a sense of self; indeed, we know our identity and we know that it persists over the many changes over many years. We are still ourselves.
So clearly, we are not our physical bodies. Even if a leg or arm is amputated, we still know that we are the same person. Our memories reach in one continuous sweep back to childhood (and sometimes earlier, to previous incarnations) even though our physical bodies have undergone many changes.
So what are we? If we are not physical, then we must be non-physical. Such a state of being or form can be described as spiritual. We are spiritual beings. Our essence is often referred to as the soul, or the spirit, or the spirit body, or the psychic body, or other such terms. As C. S. Lewis wrote: “You don’t have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.”
My own preference is the term “soul personality”, following the Rosicrucian teachings. I am a soul personality. So are you. So is everyone.
As mentioned, I can't prove any of this for you, but I have proved it for myself to my own level of satisfaction. And you can also prove it to your own level of satisfaction if you really want to do so and are willing to make the considerable effort that is needed. But for the purpose of this article, I will accept it as a fact: we are soul personalities temporarily living with physical bodies. I say “with”, not “in”, because the soul personality not only permeates the body, but also surrounds it. In a sense, the body is in the soul personality.
So, with this in mind, it should be clear that the notion of personal responsibility extends beyond a caring for our mundane physical bodies and environment, to caring for our soul personalities and our spiritual environment. Ordinarily, religious institutions and their associated priesthood have been entrusted with those matters in our society. However, in the same way that our physical matters should not be entrusted to others, such as governments, teachers, or leaders, our spiritual matters should not be entrusted to a religious hierarchy, such as clergy, scriptures, or institutions. As modern, educated, mature persons, we should entrust only ourselves, our inner selves, our inner spiritual guides, with such important responsibilities.
We need to accept personal responsibility for our spiritual welfare. Don’t abandon it, as if it were a throwaway item. Study for your spiritual development, research it, honour it, and work on it, to the point that you can detect tangible spiritual growth, new understanding of Truth, and sublime inner contentment.
(Adapted from W. Bezanson, Abandoned Shopping Carts: Personal and Spiritual Responsibility, Bloomington IN: Trafford, 2012. Used by permission.)
Copyright © William Bezanson, 2012