On Earth Day a friend had sent me a wonderful quote by Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda which read:

“This planet can be made a happier, more peaceful place to live, but the change will have to come from within the hearts of all of us living here.”

The implication is that we need to become more responsible as individuals, which is a profound spiritual truth.  Mahatma Gandhi has said – “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.”

Personal responsibility is deeply eroded by consumerism, engaging on social media, frequently by usage of the internet in general, and we don’t even realize it because we are so conditioned by the ideology of materialism.

So what do I need to change in my life. A good starting point is to deeply reflect on, and try to live by, the principles found in the “Serenity Prayer” –

Grant me the serenity to accept that which I cannot change,

The courage to change that which I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference.


Sorry about the video quality of this talk.

Aum Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya

So, we’re going to be not speaking for very long; and the theme, and what I would kindly ask you to think about, is personal responsibility.

Just take a second, if you will, to close your eyes, and say that to yourself in your mind, reflecting on these words, “personal responsibility.” One of the things that has bought this to my attention, somebody sent me a wonderful little quote from one of my spiritual teachers, because yesterday was celebrated as Earth Day. And the little quote was,

“This planet can be made a happier, more peaceful place to live, but the change will have to come from within the hearts of all of us living here.”

So one of the big challenges in the world is you have so many people concerned about the state of the environment and society and all kinds of things, and people want to try and bring about external change without considering that what we are experiencing in our own life (and I’m talking about everything we experience, every day) is the product of choices and decisions that we make, of what we are going to do, what is important to us.

We live in, probably in the history of humanity there has never been a more challenging time, where people’s personal autonomy is actually really being stripped away. If you have one of these, [holds up phone] if you ever use the internet, even if you never use the internet on this, but you have one of these, your life is being completely monitored, and you are being directed, you are being directed towards this philosophy that has actually taken over society: the idea that the single most important thing for me in life is the fulfillment of all the desires and wishes that manifest in my mind, that is the single most important thing for me. And it’s like we’ve become completely removed from what was the standard in older cultures, where there was a greater concern for others than for myself. This is not an exaggeration. This is a reality.

Mahatma Gandhi stated that this world can provide for every person’s need, but not for every person’s greed. And so we are in this predicament. And in spite of all the protesting and attempts to utilize alternate energy and everything, you will not solve any of the problems until there is an internal—a change of people’s heart. And that lies with personal responsibility, where I actually become responsible for my choices, for the actions that I will take, for the nature of what I will contemplate and think about. And that is massive. And unless we do become more responsible, then the unhappiness continues.

Human society has never been in this place where there’s so much unhappiness, where there is so much mental illness, where rates of suicide are so high. And it’s just like climbing every year. And it’s like nobody’s saying, “Hey, we’re going in the wrong direction. Everything needs to change.” No, they’re just going to come up with programs of what they call “mental health,” and the taking of psychotropic substances to try and help you get through the day. The idea that we’re hankering after and chasing things that can never make us happy and will in fact long-term contribute to our unhappiness, that idea is not even on the horizon.

I mentioned, a few weeks back, this Serenity Prayer. This Serenity Prayer is totally focused on this principle that we’re discussing, personal responsibility. And it goes,

“Grant me the serenity to accept that which I cannot change, the courage to change that which I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Everybody—I mean social media and Twitter and Instagram, it’s just like, oh my God! It’s like people just committing emotional suicide, the people feeling like they’ve got to shout at each other. You know, wake—you have no responsibility for what anybody else says and does, and we become utterly focused on what this person said to me, what happened to me, all the stuff that I actually cannot change; and what I can change is how I will receive that, and how I will react to that.

But the model of Big Tech is to make people hyper-partisan, hyper-emotional. Outrage is the actual model, to make you outraged, because it keeps you engaged, and they can keep milking you.

So this single phrase, personal responsibility, is like a really, really deep idea. And we need courage to make those changes actually which fall in my area of responsibility. What I put into my mind, how I think about things, what my values are, how I am interacting with others in the world, that’s my responsibilities, nobody else’s. And this needs to be my focus.

With that, I will kindly ask you, in fact beg of you, to really think deeply about this. If you want to live a more spiritual life, if you want to become happy, if you want to experience fulfilment and real purpose, this is foundational to that kind of a life.

And while we relinquish, if we are going to relinquish that responsibility and simply become victimized by our own minds—I mean what an amazing idea! In the Bhagavad-gita it says the mind can be one’s greatest friend or one’s greatest enemy. And what is the distinction between those two states? They use the term, in English, unbridled, an unbridled mind is your greatest enemy, where you are not exercising the control of your mind and deciding how you are going to react, how you are going to respond, what kind of decisions that you are going to make, then the mind is categorized as one’s greatest enemy.

So please consider this. I can absolutely promise you the most extraordinary and wonderful life if you take this principle really seriously. And of course, the agent of change, that which will bring about this change, will make it so we grow legs to stand on, is this use of spiritual sound. It absolutely will purify your heart and mind, and change the way that you are looking at things.

So I will chant the mantra Aum Hari Aum.