It should be obvious that we have to seek the goal of Zen in darkness. We will be groping about trying to get a sense of what Zen means, trying to see our true nature or the same, by realizing pure Mind. And since this nature or Mind is luminous which is totally unknown to the darkness we live in, the journey becomes even more difficult. In spite of this difficulty, we have to take responsibility for our spiritual life.
But what does it mean to take responsibility for our spiritual life? Does it mean to be answerable as the primary cause of our spiritual progress or failure, refusing to blame everyone and everything other that our self? I think this gets pretty close to being an adequate meaning of spiritual responsibility.
Bearing this kind of responsibility is where a spiritual transfiguration comes from (becoming spiritually awakened). Short of this kind of responsibility nothing happens. If this all sounds heroic, well it is.
When one undertakes a spiritual journey, seeking in darkness for the mysterious light of their true nature, there can be no halfway measures nor can we bear multiple responsibilities. To be frank, we can’t have a professional career that demands a lot of time, or raise a family and expect to become awakened. Children demand one’s whole life up to a certain point—our responsibility is to them for the time being.
Zen without full responsibility is like going to church every Sunday. It’s also like sitting in zazen a couple of times a week in front of your little shrine or joining a Zen community. This is not going to bring about enlightenment. To think otherwise is to trivialize Zen and the spiritual journey. It is also to trivialize Zen and act irresponsible, expecting a teacher to take responsibility for us, like an adult being responsible for their child.
A teacher is not like a wheelchair or a crutch. Their main job is to motivate us; to remind us of our responsibilities and admonish us when we fall short of our responsibilities. In other words, we have to stop acting like toddlers in adult bodies.