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Word Gems 

exploring self-realization, sacred personhood, and full humanity


Editor's 1-Minute Essay: 

Spirituality, Part IV

The Crucial Role of Personal Responsibility in Attaining Spiritual Maturity



return to "Spirituality" main-page


The principle of personal responsibility concerning spiritual maturity is something I’ve understood for some time, but Jiddu Krishnamurti brought it all into very clear focus; almost, as a new precept.


Jiddu Krishnamurti
1895 - 1986


He was engaged in one of his discussion/lectures. See the entire discourse on this page.

I’d like to keep this article short, despite its monumental importance. Essentially, Jiddu’s point involved this:

A Hindu guru was discussing with him Indian holy books and scriptures. The questioner was well versed in Hindu lore and teachings. And yet, with all of his knowledge, he lacked a basic perspective on how the egoic mind makes slaves of us.

Jiddu explained, in the course of their dialogue, how the ego craves – everything, actually – knowledge, experience, religiosity, growth.

And what is wrong with desiring these good things? Nothing, of and by itself. But the questioning guru became an object lesson of how dysfunction occurs. He would often quote this-or-that ancient sage, or this-or-that holy scripture. He had an answer, he thought, for everything; and yet his perception of how things work was revealed to be very shallow.

As they talked, it become more and more clear, that the guru, like almost everyone else, had relied on external authorities for his perceptions of God, life, and righteousness – and had never “gone within” to find out for himself.

Jiddu led him to see that relying on external authorities devolves to an evasion of personal responsibility to live life for oneself. And, as we look at this whole dynamic more closely, we find that the ego, on all levels, attempts to deflect this personal responsibility.

We, each of us, are well acquainted with the process. We know people, and most of us have lived some of the same, that of,

attending church

memorizing parts of the Bible

pinning printed aphorisms of the bathroom mirror

listening to tapes or going to seminars on self-help topics

reading success books

following the advice of a priest/minister/ or some other clergy

and many similar

And our response to this list might be, what’s wrong with any of this?

And the answer, again, is nothing, of and by itself. But it all becomes dysfunctional very quickly if we surrender personal autonomy and responsibility to externals, if we fail to live our lives from “our centers.” This is the domain of the sacred soul, where we find our link to God, this is the means by which God teaches us directly.

Much could be said here, but I will leave this topic for us to consider carefully. Look at the many examples on the “Sensibility: 1-Minute” page, reports by those who crossed to the other side into a state of darkness. Why did this happen? – it occurs when people fall into various forms of cultism, of surrendering personal sovereignty to an external source.

The ego's impulse to seek for salvation outside itself leads it to reject personal responsibility as a general rule in life. It is easier to memorize scripture and to follow infallible gurus than to face life honestly, making one's own decisions, using one's own God-given mind, and living in freedom.

We cannot, eventually, and forever, ignore the soul's mandate to know both itself and Source. God made us to be thoughtful, enquiring beings, and we pervert ourselves to evade becoming who we were meant to be.


to be a 'spiritual' person is to align one's heart, soul, and spirit with the Source of Spirit

How do we do this? - see the "simply notice" writing.   


Restatement: The Crucial Role of Personal Responsibility in Attaining Spiritual Maturity

These additional thoughts are being added many months after writing the above. Currently, the country is sliding into, on the brink of, a civil war with blood in the streets. Personal liberties are being attacked. The rule of law suffers diminishment. Half the populace is goose-stepping in obedience to Dear Leader.

When these true-believers speak, we note that unmistakable tenor of “I am better. I am morally superior.” Elsewhere, we discussed this uppity attitude of “I thank thee Lord that I am not like other men.”

It’s all very strange. This fake sense of “I am above” comes with a smell. As we attune ourselves to the “inner energies,” we readily perceive that the haughty disdain is just a cover-up for a hidden fear of “I don’t have enough” because “I am not enough.” In other words, it’s a superiority complex shielding the opposite, a self-assessment of inferiority.

The haughty disdain is found in all frothing cult members – be it of the political, religious, corporate, or scientific materialistic version. It’s all the same spirit of “We deserve to rule over you because we are better, we are above.”

This is why the Dear Leaders and the cult members can’t just leave you alone and live their own lives, tending a rose garden or enjoying their children. Instead, they enter a state of “madness maddened” to invade your privacy, your freedoms, your personal life, an insatiable “driven-ness” to accumulate as much power-and-control as possible, as they subliminally attempt to quash the inner demons of “I don’t have enough” because “I am not enough.” For all its bluster and bravado, its fake "mask of piety," this is the essential weakness of evil; just a paper tiger.

When we fail to attain clear perception of the soul’s inner riches, we become easy prey to Dear Leaders’ propaganda, a promise of utopian safety and security, if only we surrender our critical-thinking faculties, our souls, to them. It’s a bad Faustian bargain. But this is the secret dynamic energizing every rabid cult member in the world.

I’ve talked about these obvious examples of cultish dysfunction in many Word Gems writing, but allow me address a more subtle form.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was one of the great men of history; a courageous man of character who stood up to totalitarian despotism, at the cost of his life. I would hope to exhibit as much fortitude if faced with a similar injustice. See a short article on Bonhoeffer on this page.

He is in a better place now, and I don't think he'd mind if I set the record straight concerning things which he errantly taught.

Bonhoeffer represents the best of enlightened, high-principled clergy in our world. He spoke of sharing the sufferings of Christ. There is great truth in this. We, each of us, are to live life following the truth, living and promoting it, in a fearless manner.

The Cost Of Discipleship

His famous book "The Cost Of Discipleship" offers much inspirational teaching. And, of course, preaching Christ is not new in the world, however, doing this in a sincere, non-materialistic way is very rare.  

And, yes, we all would do well to become "disciples" of Christ, but, in this emulation, we must proceed, such that, one is not led into a new "sanitized" form of cultism. See further discussion of the "Jesus Christ" page.

To many people, and I think to Bonhoeffer as well, following Christ means more than following a good example but becomes a surrendering of one's own inner sacred self. This is not good. While the motivations are different, this is the very same mistake that all cult members make.


more than drinking the koolaid

The long reach of cultism encompasses much more than crackpot churches. The root idea of cult offers the sense of "cut." This core concept of "cut" leads us to images of refinement and refashioning and, by extension, development, control, pattern, order, and system.

Cultism as systemization finds a ready home in religion and philosophy which seek to regulate and redistill the patterning and ordering of ideas. However, in a larger sense, the spirit of cultism extends to every facet of society. We find it scheming and sedulously at work in politics, academia, family, corporations, entertainment, science, artistry – anywhere power might be gained by capturing credulous and fear-based minds.

See the “cultism” page for a full discussion.


The apostle Paul, in the beginning of his ministry, also fell into this error. See much discussion on "the Galatians Commentary" home-page, near the bottom, under the heading "Paul's misunderstanding in Galatians, and how it affects the Church today."

I will opt for brevity here but with “homework assignments.” See much elaboration in other writings.

We need to understand that we’re not -- never! -- to become anyone’s “disciple” in the sense of surrendering sacred person autonomy, the fruit of one's “made in the image” status.

We are to develop our own unlimited human potential, the “inner hidden riches” of the soul.

And, if we fail to do this, we will find ourselves dysfunctionally drawn to the next Dear Leader who promises to fill our sense of existential emptiness with some totalitarian fake-news of safety and security.



Editor's last word: