Sadhguru’s Inner Engineering is a pioneering book within the self-help and meditative genres. It’s full of wisdom and information that when executed on, has the ability to change lives. From energy work and chakra meditations to micro adjustments and paradigm shifts, every page provides great resources for a happy life. Within this phenomenal book is a chapter that I believe deserves challenging and redefining. As some of its core ideas when not properly explored can lead to confusion and negative results.  

No Boundary, No Burden is the fifth chapter within part one of the book. I am no stranger to the concept of personal boundaries. As a masterful people pleaser, I work every day to build up my personal boundaries. Separating my needs and wants into clear desires that I can communicate to my husband, children, and coworkers. It’s taken a lifetime of work, learning from gurus, self-help practitioners, and therapists to learn how to set clear boundaries.

When I found Sadhguru’s Inner Engineering I really appreciated what it had to say about personal responsibility. However, I’ve noticed a tendency for people to misinterpret or misuse the teachings.  

Chapter Five’s Core Parable: 

Sadhguru’s fifth chapter begins with a parable about a couple who is debating who is responsible for closing the front door. Both people have their reasons for shirking responsibility, and subsequently refuse to shut the door. This refusal goes on for hours until eventually bandits enter through the front door and pillage the house. Taking valuables, kissing the wife, and nearly shaving the man’s face. Throughout the story the couple refuses to act, because they believe it is the responsibility of the other to act.

How often does this come up in your life? For me, it is constant. No, I don’t have bandits ransacking my house, but I have those pesky feelings come up of entitlement. Entitlement for a blissful, happy life made easy by others taking responsibility. While I sit idly by not acting, not doing anything, just accepting that others have taken responsibility. Personal responsibility is at the heart of the parable and Sadhguru’s teaching. 

That parable completely shifted my mental paradigm. You see, all those times that I was angry about the laundry being left in the wash, I was upset because I didn’t want to take responsibility for someone else’s mess. However, here’s my question to you, is that bit of laundry truly not my mess? Let’s look at the tape: I have decided to have kids, I have decided to have a husband, I have decided to live in my house, I have decided to have a washing machine. I have made every choice that led to that bit of laundry. Those choices did not have to be made. I could leave my husband, leave my children, sell the washer, or sell the house. It’s the fact that I don’t that makes me personally responsible. Or, at least, that’s how people often interpret the message behind that parable.  

Re-working Chapter Five: 

Here’s my clarification on Sadhguru’s point: we enter into personal agreements with others all the time. It is our responsibility to uphold those social contracts. Sadhguru’s chapter five example has a very important limitation that I believe leads to misinterpretation. In the parable, both the husband and the wife are equally responsible for shutting the door. Neither of them owns the door and they both essentially pay the same price for the door being left open (They are ransacked). 

Within my laundry example, it could be argued that the person whose clothes are in the washer is universally responsible for folding and putting away their clothes. As I’m sure we’ve all experienced, especially us parents, this is not always how it goes. This is where Sadhguru’s teachings can be so informative. Rather than giving all of the power to your child or spouse, take responsibility for maintaining the social contract of everyone keeping shared living spaces clean. It is your responsibility to stand up for your needs. It is your responsibility to clearly speak your needs. Whether you’re negotiating a raise with your boss or establishing how cleanly the how needs to be, no one will know what you need until you tell them. Establish open communication and clear boundaries at the outset of relationships. Then it is your spouses, child’s, or coworker’s responsibility to decide whether or not they will live up to those needs. You cannot control that aspect, it is beyond you, and that is okay. You’ve done your part, now the responsibility is on them. 

Sadhguru states that we must maintain personal responsibility. Rather than interpreting that as everything is on your shoulders. See the possibility of holding people around you accountable for their personal responsibility. Build communication early and thrive from stronger bonds with loved ones. Protect your needs and wants and I guarantee you will experience a happier, healthier life.