Accountability and Spaciousness
“Pema Chödrön: Accountability, as you’re talking about it, is my understanding of the spiritual path. With Trungpa Rinpoche, my feeling was that all he was doing was getting people to take responsibility for themselves, getting them to grow up. He was a master of not confirming. Talking to him was like talking to a huge space where everything bounced back, and you had to be accountable for yourself.
Personally I feel that the role of the teacher is to wean the students from dependency, and from taking the parent/child view of life altogether. That’s what I think of as non-theism. Theism doesn’t just have to do with God; it has to do with always feeling that you’re incomplete and need something or someone outside to look to. It’s like never growing up.” Cultivating Openness When Things Fall Apart by bell hooks and Pema Chodron as published in Shambhala Sun
Accountability is about taking responsibility for yourself, which is the true spirituality. Too many spiritual and religious figures encourage emotional dependency. Emotional maturity in a student is the ultimate threat because then the person no longer needs their approval.
I love that Pema talks about her teacher as a “huge space” where everything bounced back. Inner spaciousness is a recurring theme in Buddhism. It is all-inclusive and beautiful. There is room for human imperfection, rough edges, compassion, anger, being fed up, all of it. When you are large enough to contain chaos, power is there. Walt Whitman said something like, “I am vast. I contain multitudes.” There is no need to avoid anything. He who accepts the most goes the least crazy. From that acceptance comes the stability to do something productive. Isn’t that what the world needs most right now?