It's a basic principle of respect for others and the recognition of their individuality, that they are responsible for their actions and reactions - that is their freedom of choice. They are not a slave or puppet. One can consider a question like "What could I be responsible for?" and one may conclude "everything". That may ultimately be true but it is not necessarily the best approach to life, for happiness for yourself and others.
That "you create your own reality" is true but nonetheless this world we live in is indeed real! If it's raining, I might consider "This is wonderful, so good for nature and it smells lovely," whilst another person says, "How awful, I'm not going out in that, how depressing." Two realities, but subjective ones.
From your interpretation of reality you make decisions and your decisions and choices and emotional tone have enormous influence on the direction of your life and what happens. Psychic and telepathic phenomena are also a big factor, but generally act subconsciously as the society suppresses them, because they threaten the status quo game of a purely mechanical reality, based on competitive survival.
There are better games to play, which give win-win results, but still the element of fun requires unknowns and randomness, even if self-imposed. In one's own universe (inner mind) and when exteriorized from this Earth game, one can adopt more of a source viewpoint that does not have the same games conditions. As when lucid dreaming, in which you can create/do what you want. And one can 'awaken' in this game and start to influence it, to play as Games-Maker, and create a better game.
Looking at life and relationships in terms of Communication, Understanding and Empathy (CUE) is actually a spiritual viewpoint. It is like the 'love of God' - it can seem harsh but it's about the 'greatest good'. It has no room for the 'victim' identification, jealousy and those kinds of very human responses, which are based on conditioned misconceptions.
Consideration for the other person comes into play when you judge ethics, what is best overall, not just for oneself. However the other may not agree with your judgment nor like it. That is an aspect of the unknowns and randomness of the game. You try to make it a win-win rather than competitive game by increasing the qualities of CUE.
You are responsible... for creating your own belief system and internal map of the world. For interpreting situations however you do and creating feelings based on those interpretations. For your choices, decisions and actions. For being true to your own judgment but never being judgmental of others. For communicating with honesty and integrity, developing and maintaining an open mind, and promoting understanding and empathy. For never compromising your freedoms and rights nor trampling on another's. For always acting from the primary motivation of love. That's all and quite enough.
This is something from Bill Harris about beliefs, which I feel is relevant...
Is there an ultimate reality? Yes. Does that matter to the person who believes something that is contrary to that "ultimate" reality? No. Whatever a person believes, for them, is true. I'm not talking about frivolous beliefs, such as "I believe I'm going to win the lottery," or "I can change myself into a chestnut tree," but rather deeply held beliefs about who you are, what your place is in the world, what is possible for you, and so on.
I do not think that if you "believe" a stone is not hard it will cease to be hard - though if someone believed this deeply enough they could create a hallucination of some sort in which stones were not hard, which goes along with my point that for the believer, what is believed IS true, regardless of whether or not it disagrees with any ultimate truth. Which, other than on a philosophical/intellectual level, makes "ultimate truth" somewhat irrelevant.
People believe many things about themselves, about the world, about other people, about what is possible (and so on). In many (if not most) cases, people are not even aware they believe these things, because they so much take them for granted that they never consider whether they are reasonable or resourceful beliefs (which I think is a much better way to evaluate what you believe than whether or not it is "true').
These beliefs cause a person to either 1) attract, and be attracted to, people and situations that allow them to confirm the "trueness" of what they already believe (as when a woman who believes men are pigs keeps getting attracted to pigs); 2) cause them to filter the evidence coming to them so as to interpret what is happening as confirmation that what they believe really is true, even if it isn't (as when a person interprets "I can't go out with you tonight" as "I don't really love you," even if that isn't really what is happening); or 3) they behave in such a way that they ultimately make what they believe to be true actually come true (as when a person who thinks they can never make money makes poor financial decisions and loses their money, gets into debt, and so on).
Certain beliefs (such as "I can do anything" or "People like me") are worth having because they are resourceful, because they create the results you want in life. The fact that in a ultimate sense they may not be true (or might only be true part of the time) is, in that respect, irrelevant. If you are after results, believing these things does create direct and real results.
Here are some questions about spirituality and the answers I offered...
Q: Is there only one consciousness and do all entities need an ego?
A: I'll give my opinions and subjective experience in regards to your question. But remember the truth of your reality is inside you.
I think there's a confusion here between the spiritual being that creates its reality, and that part of the being's mind that you can label the 'ego.'
From the spiritual plane, a being could simply not consider that the universe exists and it would have no reality for that being. But just by nature of having a viewpoint located here in the physical universe, identified with a body, the being has accepted the existence of the universe, as it is, including the parts of the universe unperceived from that located viewpoint.
The being's mind has created the ego, which is a personality, a face to the world, containing a system of beliefs and solutions to the problems of survival as a human being. That belief system has a map of the world that may only approximate to the reality, and be full of delusions. It is the colored glasses the person views the world through.
The reality is only an illusion (not a delusion) with respect to the Higher Self, the spiritual part of the person that remains in the spiritual plane while its viewpoint located in the physical universe is identified with a body, to experience the physical dimension and learn the lessons that offers.
I believe that the sound in the forest happens whether or not anyone perceives it. Is the clock ticking in the next room? I believe so, since when I go there the clock tells the predicted correct time. I think this is a common error philosophers make in failing to differentiate the spiritual and physical dimensions or planes of existence.
Similarly the aliens (and life forms on other planets) are living in this same physical plane so they would perceive the same universe as us - though it may look quite different through their eyes and other senses, it would be the same objectively. We haven't found alien life forms yet because we don't have the technology to look very far. But they are perceivable from the spiritual dimension and life pervades the universe. (Some would say there is physical evidence but it's suppressed for political reasons.)
In practice, the physical and spiritual are intertwined and so all the confusions occur. Our spirituality does have a profound influence on our physical experience, due the spiritual aspect of our make-up that is retained as human beings. It provides an inner knowing of truth, if we are open to it, through intuitive connection with our Higher Self. There is interconnection between all human beings as well, due to our common spirituality. We can also have a direct influence on the physical plane by creative intention on the part of the Higher Self, itself connected and part of the energetic force (that one can consider essentially an expression of Love) that creates the physical universe and other planes.
Q: If we are all ONE, as we are told then why do we have individual souls?
A: Because it is one state of being, Love, but expressed through countless viewpoints making up All That Is. Without individual souls there would be no communication, understanding or empathy - which requires some separation. So it's go apart, come together, experiencing, interacting. If you read about Dale Askew's spiritual experiences on the trans4mind site here, he describes the need of God to express and experience. That requires us, we are God, so it's all One, at the same time we are each a unique vibration with our special qualities and memories. That's how I see it.
Q: How does our soul attach itself to a human body, and at what point, and how does it choose?
A: The spirit, the Higher Self, remains exterior to the physical universe but attaches a remote, located viewpoint to the energy field of the human body, which works (intentions are passed) via the pineal gland and the right brain's intuitive faculty, then interpreted by the left brain consciously. A connection is made soon after conception and the consciousness is identified more and more with the baby as it develops, so that after birth the experience is very much "in the body" rather than that of the Higher Self with a remote viewpoint. There is previous and ongoing communication with the parents to determine the appropriateness of the family, and often there are arrangements for incarnation to continue ongoing relationships and learning paths.
Q: Also why a body, why not a stone or a tree?
A: Some do that, but "high vibration" spirit needs the flexibility of communication to express its qualities. Spirit learns and evolves to higher vibrations, though this can go backward or take eons.
Q: What is the point of this? If the soul is eternal and the physical plane is only a temporary visit before we go home, then what use is this experience back in the soul plane?
A: It's because the physical experience is unique, it's not etheric and dreamlike, so we have to learn to play games within fixed boundaries, to deal with a body-mind and ego, and so on. We create the reality from our spiritual level of consciousness but then at the same time as human beings we experience and play games within it, and any game requires unknowns, the duality of the "other side". Our life here offers opportunities to experience and learn about emotions in a very physical way that is just not possible otherwise. It's also the opportunity to be part of the whole creation. It's God fully experiencing Itself through playing the game of life. It's a privilege, not a prison sentence (like some feel)! When we're enlightened we realize this, and our vibration rises so that we don't need this stage in our spiritual evolution anymore, then we can move on. Most people are far way from that but more are closer to it now than since a long time. In history there have been cycles of raised and lowered vibration.
Some feel the purity of spiritual realization requires us not to be "interested in the things of the world" - that manifesting our desires is a low state of being. I feel this is mixed up, almost like a death wish, and it assumes all desires come from ego attachment. We ARE spiritual beings, we're here for the physical experience, to enjoy and learn from the game of life in a world of dualities.
Q: Also this connection, what causes it to disconnect and cause death - is it voluntary or does the soul have no control over this?
A: Normally there's no control and illness, accident or old age causes death of the body - because the being has identified so thoroughly with the body. Those rare enlightened persons who are completely in touch with their higher selves are able to leave the body and die at a time of their choosing however. In near death experiences we hear how persons are sometimes given a choice or guided about returning to the body and in these cases sometimes miraculous healing occurs.
Q: Thanks Peter, for the in depth answers, they help a lot but as with most answers they pose other questions. I can grasp the creating my own reality aspect, although I have been led to believe that we should not seek to create by ourselves but ask God or the Universe and it shall be done for us.
A: I feel that we are the creative expression of God in this world, we are part of God, through our Higher Selves. God creates through us. Yes, we can and should ask for guidance and help, and that comes from God through our Higher Selves. We (and our free will) are part of the process, not just at the receiving end.
Q: But what I don't get is how other people can see my world. If everyone's ego is creating a different "reality", how do we interact and "agree" on what we see as the world? Quantum physics says that the very nature of viewing something causes it to take on form, and that quantum matter can exist in different states at the same time, i.e matter and energy. It is the viewing that causes it to appear as matter?
A: We are observing from within the physical world, through our eyes. It is the same object and it's there whether we observe it or not. The quantum phenomena you describe is related to creation from the spiritual viewpoint. The 'zero point' of the atom is spiritual, metaphysics and physics combine. It's two sides of the same coin, both are true at once. Really, our life on Earth is about experiencing from the physical viewpoint; at the same time we give more meaning to our lives by recognizing we each have a spiritual viewpoint too, from which we create our reality 100% - but it's best to differentiate the two so as not to be confused. Though in truth the two are not really separate but aspects of the one.
Q: How then do we agree with others that we are observing the same matter, for example a cat, if we are creating our own separate illusion?
A: Communication, observation and more communication. We live in the same world, we have a shared objective reality (it's only an illusion from the spiritual viewpoint), but we see it through different colored glasses, due to our subconscious beliefs and fixed ideas. We each have different subjective realities that overlap with the objective reality (and other people's subjective realities) to a greater or lesser degree. The path of growth is to make those beliefs conscious and reassess them, and to open our minds to new ideas based on observation in the present time and other people's contributions to our map of reality. To take off the glasses. To live consciously rather than being automatons (a product of our conditioning and the safe solutions of our egos).