Ethics and Responsibilty

By Robert D. Trice

Originally printed in the MAY JUNE 2007 issue of Quest magazine. 
Citation: Trice, Robert D. "Ethics and Responsibilty" Quest  95.3 (MAY-JUNE 2007):

Main Entry: ethic
Pronunciation: e-thik
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English ethik, from Middle French ethique, from Latin ethice, from Greek ethike , from ethikos ,
Date: Fourteenth century

1 plural but singular or plural in construction: the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation

2 a: a set of moral principles: a theory or system of moral values ~the present day materialistic ethic ~  ~an old fastion work ethic~ — often used in plural but sing. or plural in constr. ~an elaborate  ethics ~  ~Christian ethics~
  b: plural but singular or plural in construction: the principles of conduct governing an individual or a group ~professional ethics~
   c: a guiding philosophy
   d: a consciousness of moral importance ~forge a conservation ethic ~

3 plural: a set of moral issues or aspects (as rightness) ~debated the ethics  of human cloning~  Merriam-Webster

David Trice

Throughout our lives, the urge of our souls is toward responsibility and obedience to the ethics, i.e., laws, of both God and society. For many years, possibly many life times, we are only dimly aware of these ethics—until the time comes when we begin to look "up" to the soul. When we realize that the soul is a guiding force in our lives, a sense of right and wrong begins to bloom. Then, as we take ourselves in hand, we build into the mind stuff (chitta) substance which is ethical, selfless, and true.


A sense of responsibility is the first indication of the soul. When we are young, the sense of responsibility expresses itself in the outer world: family, career, education, and friends mark out our circle of awareness and influence. At about seven years old, and as we grow older, a review takes place, impressed by the soul. Through the lens of the soul, we see our lives weighed against the ethics of the soul. Pythagoras understood this when he taught his students to review the day in reverse—by asking themselves "What have I done wrong today? What could I have done better today?"—and then visualizing the opposite of what was done wrong. This produces tension. Tension produces friction and friction creates fire which burns the dross within. We will always be given another chance, another opportunity, to correct ourselves and our ethics, to become "in sync" with the soul eventually. Remember this takes time, many lives, and patience. "Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy [against] the [Holy] Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men" (Matthew 12:31).

Many great men and women have come to us to give us the rules and framework for living an upright, ethical, and responsible life. They assumed great responsibility and made great sacrifices, sometimes to the point of death, in order to bring the divine message from the higher planes.

The Buddha gave us the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path:

Cease identifying with material things or desires.
Gain a proper sense of values.
Cease regarding possessions or even earthly existence as of major importance.


Follow the noble Eightfold Path of right relations, which begins with right values and ends with right happiness.

Patanjali, the author of the Yoga Sutras, is another example. He was a compiler of sacred teachings who wrote about the dangers of avarice. This avarice is a covetousness, or in reality, envy of characteristics and traits that you have not earned or worked for. Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet: "Assume a virtue, if you have it not."

Moses brought us the Ten Commandments. Regardless of its mired history (suspected by HPB to be from India), the Ten Commandments offer a basic framework of ethics that holds good to this very day. Later, Aristotle wrote on ethics, calling his work, Nicomachean Ethics, after his son Nicomachus, who probably edited it. He took Plato’s view that all that is done by anyone is for the good ultimately.The Master Jesus gave us the Lord’s Prayer:

Our Father who art in heaven,
Hallowed Be Thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come.
Thy Will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
As we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation;
But deliver us from evil.


Prayer, selfless prayer, always works. Remember always that we are evolving and it takes time to be those ethics. Most of us are a mixture of good and bad and as such, we must forgive our shortcomings and continue to strive for the ethics that we already have (yes, already have). Our conscience always lets us know if, we should not have done something. This is the soul, dear brothers and sisters: silent but firm.

The great nations that have come and gone have also had as their foundation systems of ethics instilled by those who led them in their earliest days. The legend of King Arthur and Camelot is a good example of high aspiration for a new world based on ethics and responsibility.

We have a responsibility not to be a burden to the Masters that we serve. We can honor this responsibility by staying out of places and planes which are beyond the protection of ethical, common sense, and responsible behavior. They should be avoided at all cost, as St. Paul cautions us, "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high [places]" (Ephesians 6:12). The phrase "high places" does not refer to altitude. The path is harrowing; and full of traps. Selfishness motivates errors. Always check your motive for it must be pure. We can always ask ourselves. "Is what I am doing serving the soul and humanity? Does what I am doing permit the Christ principle to enter into my life and therefore radiate to others?"

There is one more truth that should be imparted: the worst enemy that a Master has comes not from the forces of darkness, but from within his own camp. Innocent errors, personality problems, low desires (which should have been left behind long ago), and separatism all affect the group aura. When someone falls, a "hole" appears. This hole is taken advantage of by those who wish to see this happen and evil pours in. It takes much time, energy, and prayer to close up such a hole. Ethics and right responsibility prevents this from happening. It is important to foster fearlessness. Without fearlessness, paranoia and paralysis ensues. Fearlessness is the rock which all should seek.

In The Voice of Silence, HPB gives one of the most succinct descriptions of the path and its ethical requirements:

There is but one road to the Path; at its very end alone the "Voice of the Silence" can be heard. The ladder by which the candidate ascends is formed of rungs of suffering and pain; these can be silenced only by the voice of virtue. Woe, then, to thee, Disciple, if there is one single vice thou hast not left behind. For then the ladder will give way and overthrow thee; its foot rests in the deep mire of thy sins and failings, and ere thou canst attempt to cross this wide abyss of matter thou hast to lave thy feet in Waters of Renunciation. Beware lest thou should'st set a foot still soiled upon the ladder's lowest rung. Woe unto him who dares pollute one rung with miry feet. The foul and viscous mud will dry, become tenacious, then glue his feet unto the spot, and like a bird caught in the wily fowler's lime, he will be stayed from further progress. His vices will take shape and drag him down. His sins will raise their voices like as the jackal's laugh and sob after the sun goes down; his thoughts become an army, and bear him off a captive slave. (Stanza 69)


Rowe, Christopher, and Sarah Broadie, eds. Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle. Oxford University Press, 2002.
Blavatsky, H. P., Mabel Collins, and Jiddhu Krishnamurti. Inspirations from Ancient Wisdom. Quest Books, 1999.
Coogan, Michael D., Marc Zvi Brettler, Carol A. Newsom, Pheme Perkins, eds. The New Oxford Annotated Bible, New Revised Standard Version with the Apocrypha, Third Edition. New York: Oxford University Press, Inc., 2001.
Shearer, Alistair. Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Harmony/Bell Tower, 2002.


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