A weekly dose of dauntlessly dealt reality from the What It Is Wednesday Blog Carnival

I will be the first to say that I haven’t always had a good relationship to duty. I’ve always thought that duty is something the people on top foisted upon the people on the bottom. It’s grunt work. Chop wood, carry water.

I’m no stranger to that concept. Years ago, my mentor told me that the most profound spiritual work conveys through chop wood, carry water–the daily tasks that must be done. “Why else,” she asked, “do you think monasteries focus their lives around daily work? It’s not all about prayer and ritual.”

The only reason I assumed she was correct was because I admired and respecter her, her wisdom. But after a not-so-unblemished life, I thought I’d done my time with tedium. I thought I’d paid my dues, and was at the point that I deserved a break through.

Who doesn’t think that at some point, or points, along the way?

What I didn’t know at that time was the role of duty. A couple of months ago, a friend who works as a consultant for other professionals such as himself shared with me that often his clients think they deserve exemption for being good people, for having made the right choice, done the work. They think they are entitled a certain reward or response for their efforts. His response to his clients is, “That’s not enough.”

I understood what he meant–that none of us are special snowflakes, that none of us deserve anything. We are not entitled, period. Though his insight, along with my mentor’s left me wondering what is enough.

That’s the thing about duty. There’s no such concept as “enough.” Duty doesn’t reach a point that it’s finished. It’s ongoing. There may be tasks within one’s duties that complete; however, the overall role of duty goes on.

What is duty, exactly? It’s a determined system within a construct in which every part of it performs specific tasks. It does sound hierarchical, and maybe it is. That possibility doesn’t change the fact that work has to be done. If it isn’t done, bad things happen to every part of the construct. It is within that last bit that duty is deeply spiritual.

Ultimately our spirituality knows one fact: everything is connected. Whether we’re talking about All Things, or my family, or our community, the planet, everything is connected. And whether we’re talking about every special snowflake soul brings something unique to the cosmos or we each play a specific role in our families, we all have a duty–likely many duties.

Duty requires a system in which everyone involved has a responsibility, an obligation to carry out, not just to save or secure an outcome for self, but to ensure all. Ensure all.  No one is exempt. No action on our part renders us good enough or the right kind of person not to carry duty, ongoing.

What role does duty play in your life? How do you carry out duty and keep a peaceful heart?

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