I had many goals and ambitions as a young adult, but these frequently fell by the wayside, as I couldn’t get past the stumbling block of being hooked by one fleeting pleasure after another.
In fact, I had a reputation for laziness and disorganization to such an extent that a housemate introduced a visitor who had self-discipline as “my nemesis”! But through uncovering and working to reduce various subconscious drives within me, using a technique taught by Belsebuub, I learnt that I too could develop this discipline and start to act in a more responsible way, to benefit not only myself, but also others around me.
When I first learnt the technique, I can admit that I actually felt a little disappointed as it seemed so simple and I had some skepticism as to whether it could really bring about a profound change in my personal habits and behaviors. However, through persistent efforts, I realized that many of the personality traits I considered to be a fundamental part of my character could be significantly altered.
The starting point for this change came about through a process of trying to maintain awareness of my environment, through the five senses, while at the same time observing the various emotions, thoughts and reactions within, which Belsebuub writes about in Self‑Knowledge for Spiritual Awakening.
Then whenever I saw something that I recognized as being part of what Belsebuub refers to as an “ego state”, I applied the technique to ask for its removal. I noticed that these “ego states” came and went rapidly and included a variety of emotions, thoughts and feelings. These included obvious strong outbursts, such as speaking in a curt manner to someone who annoyed me, banging something down in frustration when I couldn’t work out how to fix it, or noticing my heart beat accelerating when under pressure to make an appointment on time.
But they also included more subtle manifestations of subconscious drives and desires, such as looking for information on the internet but getting hooked by a trivial or unrelated article – or the effect of the subconscious upon the mind, such as recurring thoughts that criticized others, or simply ran away on their own track, flitting from one idea to another.
The process of change had a beneficial effect in many aspects of my life and along with it came the understanding of the need to be responsible throughout the events of everyday life, rather than just having it as a grand, but hard to reach ideal. By applying the technique to reduce lower inner states, I gained a motivation and strength to go against the desires and drives of the subconscious, including those that wanted to pursue endless pleasure. Through this, I was gradually able to act in a better way in many situations, and things that would have hooked me before, against my better judgement, were no longer appealing or tempting.
Acting Responsibly in the Workplace
As part of this process of inner change, I began to realize that the negative traits I sometimes criticized in others could often be a reflection of something I had inside too. I had previously noticed this when sharing accommodation as a student, where I and other housemates would complain about flaws in each other, but then display the same characteristics of laziness, carelessness, or irresponsibility ourselves. Later on, as I started to use the technique to remove “ego states”, I observed that I still had subtle aspects of the negative emotions and behaviors that I criticized in others, which needed to be reduced further.
Although I generally had a more responsible attitude in the workplace than as a student, when I reflect upon my working life, I can also recall instances where I reacted negatively upon being criticized for not completing a task correctly, which I would justify in my mind by thinking of all the tasks that other staff members had left unfinished or made mistakes on. However, I can now see that although I liked to be seen to be doing a good job when I was being observed, I would also sometimes take the opportunity to slack off when no-one was watching.
Moreover, because I lacked discipline in other aspects of my life, this sometimes impacted upon my work life too. For example, I would often stay up later than I should, watching TV or browsing the internet, then turn up late for work the next morning.
However, as I developed further my focus of acquiring self-knowledge throughout the situations of my everyday life, I set myself a goal of acting responsibly in every aspect of it. In the workplace, this meant that even if I had the opportunity to slack off, I would try to use my time effectively and get on with completing tasks that needed doing.
I’ve found that it can be easy to get drawn into politics at work, particularly when working on a Rota system, where tasks can sometimes be left undone from shift to shift. However, through my experience of practicing the technique to remove lower inner states, which Belsebuub describes, I reached a decision that I would make an effort to fulfill my responsibility at work in the best way I could, regardless of what anyone else did or didn’t do.
I managed to meet this goal while working alongside other staff members and after a while, an opportunity came up to challenge myself further and to observe the extent to which I was prepared to maintain the principle of responsibility during more difficult circumstances.
I had developed an illness, which restricted my ability to function and gradually changed over to less physically demanding work environments, until my main employment involved helping an elderly lady in her small apartment. I worked on a Rota system as a lone member of staff and noticed that there seemed to be a lot of tasks left undone, as it was easy for employees to spend time watching TV with the lady, or engaging in other pleasurable pastimes, when there were no other staff members around to check up on them.
However, I felt that even if others were sometimes letting things slide, I would do what I could to fulfill my responsibility within that role and to not give into the temptation to pursue more pleasurable activities. I needed to use common sense in this, as it would have also been irresponsible to push myself to take on more than I could manage, to the detriment of my own health. But I set about completing the various administrative tasks that had built up, which were either scheduled but often overlooked, or which had built up unnoticed over the years.
I actually found this more rewarding than passing a shift idly, as I knew that I was contributing in some way towards a solution, rather than escalating the problem.
Sacrificing Selfishness for Responsibility in Everyday Life
I have got a lot from listening to Belsebuub’s audio talks, which used to be broadcast weekly and are now archived on his website. In these, he often emphasized the need to be responsible in every aspect of our lives and mentioned that:
“…you need to have the dedication, aim, goal, and the sense that you are responsible for what you do and that goes throughout the actions of daily life; how you act even when there is no one around.”
~ There is a Responsibility Required in Awakening, Belsebuub
With this in mind, I made an effort to be responsible in every aspect of my life, regardless of whether it is seen or unseen by others. Looking back on my life before finding Belsebuub’s work, I can see how the subconscious desires within me often drove me to act in ways that were sometimes both irresponsible and negligent. I regret these past actions and can see so much selfishness in many of my old habits and behaviors. Although I had ideals about living in a good way and not causing harm, I would sometimes make excuses when given the opportunity to pursue pleasure, or for convenience.
For example, I recall a housemate commenting on how the company that made the cereal I was eating contributed towards poverty and illness in Africa. However, I got a lot of enjoyment from eating that cereal, so put the inconvenient information to the back of my mind and carried on buying it. On other occasions, I would eat in canteens for convenience, oblivious to the fact that the chicken on my plate was most likely subjected to a life of ill-treatment and ill health in a confined warehouse.
However, by regularly applying the technique to reduce my own subconscious drives, which I learnt from Belsebuub’s work, I naturally gained a greater control over these drives and consequently developed more compassion and responsibility towards the wider world, as I could see the consequences of my own actions or inaction much more clearly.
I was then able to apply this understanding to even the most mundane aspects of my life including the personal choices I could make as a consumer.
Understanding My Responsibility for True and Fundamental Change
As I got further into the study of self-knowledge, which Belsebuub writes about, I gained a greater understanding of my own responsibility to bring about profound inner change within myself, in order to have any kind of significant impact in the world. I realized that it’s vital to develop self-knowledge in every aspect of my life, rather than just having the pursuit of inner change as an ideal that I adopt when it suits me, or put aside when it doesn’t.
My efforts to change have often been met with a strong resistance from the “ego states” within me and moreover, these states have sometimes gone on “under the radar”, which sometimes led me to focus on developing discipline and responsibility in certain areas, while neglecting others.
For example, I was interested in the values of social justice, equality and the importance of protecting the environment prior to studying Belsebuub’s work, and using the technique to reduce my own subconscious drives allowed me to develop these principles further.
However, I would still sometimes act irresponsibly in simple areas of everyday life, particularly in my academic studies and in the way I would poorly manage my time. Sometimes I would get stressed and do rushed work around deadlines. Other times I would stay up late to complete assignments to the detriment of my health.
But through practicing the techniques I learnt from Belsebuub’s work, I was able to gain further ground in being responsible in every aspect of my life, rather than just in specific areas. I feel this has given me a more balanced approach to life and has allowed me to prioritize more objectively how to use my time effectively in order to meet the personal spiritual goals I have established for myself.
Belsebuub speaks about developing this sense of responsibility in the following talk, which I would like to share here: