Living Beyond Duty And Obligation



By Raphael Awen

Is there a new and healthier way to relate to responsibility? ….that isn’t about the old ways of duty, sacrifice and obligation?

This question came up on the Men’s call Saturday as we felt into what does a man truly ‘showing up’ in life look like.

I’ve had to give this question a lot of space this life as I set out as a young man to really ‘do it right’ with choice and commitment leading over any kind of ‘wishy washy feelings’ hindering my progress. It worked really well for me and a solid self image around it provided me a strong sense of momentum and togetherness, and life direction, until,…it no longer did.

Decades later, I became very uncomfortable with doing what was right when it was more and more becoming evident, that I was living for the approval of some part of me, or living AS this approval seeking part of me. I could feel that between the dictates of duty and my own heart was a whole new ground I was being invited to enter.

I knew the choices I was about to make would not harm anyone intentionally, but I knew many would be unavoidably hurt. I concluded a marriage bond of 23 years and let it be known to my very Christian world that I no longer held Jesus as my personal saviour. There was hardly any larger of a dynamite that could have been placed under my world as I knew it, and yet I felt held by life and the divine to declare and walk out these new choices.

I remember telling friends and family that I no longer wished to live my life by the dictates of duty and obligation. It was very evident to me that my deepest heart and greatest gifts that I had to give the world were not out of synch with the deepest gifts I had to give myself. I knew the message that ‘self is bad’ was no longer working for me. I knew I wanted to live from my heart and I knew I wanted to make my own heart a beautiful place,…the ‘hearth of my own heart.’ Instinctively, I knew I was in fact opening my heart to friends and family for the first time, but that me saying such a deep ‘no’ to a previously agreed upon way of relating together would probably and understandably end the relationships.

This new way of relating to responsibility is a key piece denoting entirely different planes of existence. And it hinges deeply on not just the idea, but the deeply held emotional feeling ground that the self is bad. While this feeling world lives intact inside of us, it works like a free energy device generating a cohesive operating system to power and navigate life. When this inner ocean of inner self-unworth begins to be felt and nurtured by one’s own maturing and arising higher self, along with their conscious and arising more authentic self, one can only expect huge rumbles that will play out in their life as they know it.

So what then would the new operating system look like, that wasn’t based in duty and obligation? “Is it just giving in to doing whatever you want, whenever you want?” Is the usual question of protest that is raised by those feeling uncomfortable with even discussing this question.

Honestly, the short answer to that question, for me is simply ‘yes.’ The longer process around that question is learning more and more about what I actually want, even through the experience of doing it wrong, or even causing harm. Only by feeling what I truly want and what others truly want can I ever harmonize the love that I am with the love that the universe is. Only through ceasing to deny myself the love that I am can I cease denying the love that I am to another.

I need not make any longer case here about the difference between operating from heart vs. operating from a moral code, or self-imposed or society-imposed ‘shoulds’.You can feel this and don’t need to be convinced of it any further if it resonates for you.

What does bear feeling further in all of this though is the difference between how a ‘leading edge’ part of you can agree wholeheartedly, while another ‘trailing edge’ part of you, at the same time, can be very attached to living in the old dynamics. Being of two minds in this way is normal for most of present day human consciousness. Finding a way to bridge between these polarized parts of ourselves is our key to sanity, rather than just living in a default war between these parts of ourselves, or a default deadness survival pattern.

In this way, real sanity is feeling how a ‘split personality’ is true for all of us to significant degree under the layer of our presented-to-the-world self image of togetherness. Our deepest sanity isn’t about a forced external pretense of unity inside of ourselves, but rather a deep commune between each part of ourselves that is led by our arising authentic self who can be heart-present to every part of ourselves in a conflict.

In SoulFullHeart, we intimately get to know and feel parts of ourselves. We feel how they live and express in us in both wounded and healed expression. We hold a space for every part of us that arises in reactivity to life and relationships. Anything less than feeling how our conflicts live in us sub-personally (in our sub-personalities) in this way is simply another trip down the self improvement aisle of the bookstore by the very part of us seeking to change itself, while our authentic self isn’t yet awoken to its calling to lead our inner family.

And with our question at hand around duty and obligation, it’s here that the question really gets answered. Parts of ourselves can smell dutiful love a mile away and don’t buy it, and won’t respond to it. It is only through genuine curiosity and desire to feel that they will open out their world and secrets to us.

Only now as our inner world is felt in this way does our draw to spirituality, or awakening, or ascension become something that isn’t suspect as a medicative kind of reality covering over unfelt inner pain.

Only now can we embrace all of our-selves, from our roots to our wings, to be included in an awakening that doesn’t leave entire domains of our being untouched.

Only now can we more fully step out of duty and into our own heart as the sacred place that it is and always was.

Raphael Awen is co-creator, teacher, and facilitator of the SoulFullHeart Way Of Life. Please visit for more information and inspiration.

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