To be responsible means to stop blaming the outer trigger for the inner trouble

Suppose we feel tempted by someone who wears revealing clothes. Or we feel irritated by someone who behaves in an annoying way. We may blame that person. Such blaming may be easy but it is disempowering. We have only limited control over how people behave. What we can control is how we respond to their behavior. 

To be responsible means to recognize that we are response-able, able to choose our responses. What agitates us may be triggered by someone external, but that won’t trouble us much if there were no weaknesses inside us, just as merely pressing the trigger of a gun will not harm if the gun contains no bullets. 

The Bhagavad-gita states that those who are intellectually and spiritually evolved — the brahmanas — learn to restrain both their mind and their sense (18.42). To restrain the mind and to be peaceful means that they don’t dwell on agitating stimuli; even if such stimuli come within their perception, they don’t give undue attention to them and thereby prevent unnecessary agitation. If somehow such stimuli register within them and start agitating them, they still maintain the necessary physical restraint by which they don’t let their inner wild emotions express themselves at the level of the senses. Such capacity for mental and physical restraint centers on understanding that we are souls, who are different from our mind and body. And if we complement this spiritual understanding with a devotional connection to the ultimate spiritual reality, Krishna, then we get the necessary strength to minimize the inner troubles caused by outer triggers. 

Still, all such self-reformation begins with putting an end to the blame game and taking responsibility for our emotions and actions, as the Gita calls for in its conclusion: deliberate and do as you desire (18.63).

Think it over:

  • How are external temptations like triggers, not causes?
  • What does becoming responsible mean?
  • How can spirituality help us become more responsible?

***

18.42 Peacefulness, self-control, austerity, purity, tolerance, honesty, knowledge, wisdom and religiousness – these are the natural qualities by which the brāhmaṇas work.

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