Responsibility and accountability are really interesting topics that have a huge bearing on our life, both from a spiritual as well as material perspective.  We examine the urgent need to refocus our lives using these principles so that we may become happier and live better lives.

Aum Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya

So, over the last few weeks we’ve talked about a lot of things that in part point to the nature of the world that we live in at this time, where, through the influence of social media specifically, people are encouraged to become increasingly self-centered (hence, the word selfie), self-centered and making it all about Me. And we learn from the ancient teachers, the great spiritual teachers, that that path is a path towards incredible unhappiness and loneliness. It’s when—This shift, from being it’s all about me and what I can get out of life and get out of things, to a greater spirit of giving and sharing brings a massive transformation in your thinking and your experience of life, and this is absolutely true. And yet we’re encouraged to go the other way, because when you go the other way, you’re more easy to exploit financially, get you doing this, buying this, engaging in this way, whatever, getting all your data and selling it. It’s all about exploitation.

In the human form of life, we have an extraordinary gift. It doesn’t matter what your economic status is, the nature of your body, meaning its racial identity or sexual identity or gender—that’s all small stuff, that’s all passing stuff that cannot actually fulfill us and give us great happiness.

In the ancient Vedic culture in India, like since forever (although it’s rapidly changing now, because of these influences that I’m talking about), there was a thing that all people did. When they rose in the morning, they would step outside and bring with them a container of water. And the sun was rising, and it—just like in yoga asana, you have surya namaskara, well, that was the yogi thing, we’re talking about the general people—they would offer prayers of gratitude. And someone might go, “What!? But that’s just the sun!” And they would lift their hands and pour water as an offering and chant wonderful prayers or mantras. And it was a recognition, it was a recognition of my place in this world and the dependencies that we have. If the sun did not rise, I would have no life. If the sun did not rise, there would be no food to eat. There was that intimate recognition of the importance of something as simple and straightforward as the sun. And so there was this expression of great gratitude for this gift. And that’s the beginning of your day.

Then there was the offering of some grains or sometimes sugar to insects and birds who would come and accept the offering, and that connected me to how I am just one part, one small part in a much bigger picture, and the need for me to have both gratitude and a sense of responsibility, of duty towards, kindness towards others, offering towards others, sharing what I had, was just like, this was deeply ingrained. And of course, this is incredibly helpful for people to cultivate this awareness, rather than you wake up and just reach for your phone and start scrolling.

And so, oh my God, what is that, in terms of—It’s become a ritual that everybody’s engaged in. And what do you get out of it? You just get more of the same. You’re going deeper down the rabbit hole. We become increasingly disconnected. And like Rasa Lila was mentioning when she was doing the Gauranga breathing, the ancient sages taught everyone you are an eternal spiritual being. Life arises from the presence of an eternal spiritual being, and there are a myriad of life forms, different bodies but all contain my brothers and sisters, eternal spiritual beings.

And there was this understanding and appreciation that my incalculable fortune is that I find myself in this lifetime in a human body. And a human body is the highest form of privilege that you can have. All the other privileges that people talk about now, it’s all so small in comparison to this big picture. The distinction between the nature of the human body and the type of mind that comes with it, and other life forms: I can ask the question: “Who am I? Why am I here? What is this all for? Do I have a higher purpose?”

And this was considered like, whoa, this is the big picture. And when we incorporate that type of thinking and questioning and seeking into our life, and we choose a course where we give of ourself, rather than just being focused on what can I take? what can I grab? what can I—it’s just like, that leads to unbelievable sadness, and it produces broadly what I’ll call criminal mentality, the idea that this place I can use it as I wish; I can do with it as I wish; I will never be accountable—and that is a massive lie. We are accountable for everything. Having this life, there is both responsibility and there is accountability. Both of those things are inescapable.

When I run the programs in prison it’s kind of quite amazing. You talk to people what—“How did you end up here?” and of course, people point to some criminal action. And I usually say, “No, that’s not the reason you’re here. It’s not the action. It’s kind of like, well, what led you to that action? What was your path? What were you thinking? What was your value system that brought you to that point?” And of course, everybody has the mentality that if I don’t get caught, meaning that I don’t get busted by the police, then I got away with it. And I just say, “No! There are laws, just as there is a law of gravity which we cannot escape, there are laws of karma. There are nature’s law, natural law. You pay for everything. There is no free ride. You will pay for everything.”

Your experience right now at this moment today is you are in this consciousness, and you’re experiencing what you’re experiencing, because of choices that you made, actions that you took, things that you value. And of course, we have the freedom, and we actually have the power to decide what our life is really going to be like, what it’s going—what that experience is going to be like, and how will my departure from this body be. That’s in your wheelhouse. That’s the big picture. That’s the stuff that needs focus, not the petty little things that go on.

So it was considered the highest privilege to have a human form, in these ancient spiritual cultures. There was no higher privilege. But then it is your responsibility to utilize this body, this life, in a way that’s deeply meaningful and produces wonderful outcomes. That is your responsibility. And if you are neglectful of that, if you want to try and deny that, then, of course, there’s going to be an accountability.

The massive rise in suicide and mental health issues and depression—these are all the fruits. You can’t go around living a life of just taking and unkindness and self-centeredness and not think you will not pay a price. You cannot inflict violence and cruelty and suffering upon others and think that’s not going—That’s going to come back and bite you in the butt big time. What goes around comes around. It’s inescapable. It’s inescapable.

The need for us—don’t worry about anybody else. Don’t worry what anybody else is doing. We have this terrible tendency to blame everybody else for our unhappiness. [Mumbles some complaint] Hey, you chose to be with that person. You often choose these situations, and then you moan about it. But we often have not actually taken charge of our life and behaved towards others in a deeply caring and very thoughtful, and compassionate way.

So, there is much that comes with these two words. And they’re like in a balance. You’ve got responsibility, and you’ve got accountability, and they’re directly related and in balance with each other. And you cannot just, through artificial means—you know, you can—it’s just like somebody that develops a massive drug habit. It’s kind of like, okay, you can cut yourself off from the world, you can just get lost in that experience in your head, but look what the outcome is? You become so degraded, you become so dehumanized, you become so unfortunate, so pitiable in this horrible suffering condition. Anybody that’s had a close connection to someone that suffers from addiction knows what I’m talking about. You can’t just think, “Okay, I’m not going to pay attention to that, I don’t believe that.” It’s like, oh my God, belief! Like as if you believe something or don’t believe it’s going to make it true. It’s no, we’re going to get over that one.

The things that I am saying to you, we can all directly experience the reality of. Each and every single one of you can experience the most extraordinary fruits of the attainment of self-realization and God-realization, the awakening of extraordinary and ecstatic condition of deep spiritual love. But we have to take these two things: the responsibility for us to make good choices, to act in good ways, and know that we are accountable.

Accountability, or the laws of karma, are not punishment. They’re not punishment. It’s like if you’ve got your hand in the door jamb, and then you close the door, does that feel good? Instantly there’s pain. It’s not like you’re being punished. You had your hand in the door jamb when you or somebody else closed the door, it’s just the natural outcome. And so, in terms of the laws of karma, it’s not about punishment. It’s just like, you make these kinds of choices, okay, this is the effect, this is the result, this is the effect of your actions, the effect of your speech, the effect of your choices. And the fact that it’s unhappy is just like, well, that doesn’t mean it’s a punishment, that’s just what you’ve what you’ve done to yourself, more or less.

So, really encourage people to try and develop a bigger picture of life. Get out of this area. [Indicating the phone screen] The phone is not it. It’s not the universe. Just because you can Google stuff or talk to some AI thing, it doesn’t mean it’s filled with enlightenment, and the universe, or the world is there. No, it’s not. We need to be real about this. We should become more focused on our existence and this extraordinary opportunity that we have.

Okay, that’s about as far as I’m going to go tonight. Hope that wasn’t distressing. It can be really distressing, I’m telling you, if you really think about it. But it’s kind of like it’s not, it’s not—utilize this amazing gift of this human form and the mind and the intelligence that come with it and your freedom to choose, and choose wisely, live wisely; you will become happy.

So, I’ll chant the mantra Aum Hari Aum.