Monday, August 5, 2013

The Truth About Blame

It’s Always My Own Fault - There is Never Anyone To Blame But Me
Slogan 12 of the Lojong

This is a great practice for ending suffering, ours and everyone else’s.

Faulting and blaming others is, as we all know, easy and convenient. But it is also seriously flawed as a way of life, and ultimately counterproductive.

When things in our society aren’t the way we think they should be, our first line of “reason” is to determine who is responsible, who’s to blame. With little or no evidence to support us, we simply blame or accuse another person or group for what we feel is wrong. At times it is the person or group who is accusing us of exactly the same wrong-doing, but no matter. After all, we’re right. Take religious or nationalistic conflicts–both sides feel they are right and  correct in blaming the other.

The flaw in this way of reasoning is the assumption that I am always right; it’s the flaw that assures me others are to blame. When we look closely, however, we observe that there is no right and wrong.

Similarly, when things in our personal lives aren’t the way we think they should be, the first thing we do is to look for someone to blame.

What makes this such a dangerous and maladaptive way of living is that it never works; blaming never solves the problem. Why? Because blaming others never gets at the cause. And the cause is never external–the cause of our suffering is always internal, always in the way we choose to narrate the event.

What mindfulness is suggesting is that, as we go about our lives the moment we sense fault or blame arising, we tell ourself to come to a screeching halt. We look inward instead of outward and we notice that our suffering is coming, not from what others are doing or the external situation, but from how we have chosen to write the narrative about those people and conditions.

The Practice: Commit to make a concerted effort to paying attention to how blaming arises and what patterns it takes.  See what happens when you shift it to the inward gaze of the Middle Path. Notice how your suffering weakens, and how other’s suffering disappears as you see need in others rather than suffering.

Two Renowned Tibetan Lamas on This Slogan

Chogyam Trungpa's Commentary: "Drive all blames into one means that all problems and the complications that exist around our practice, realization, and understanding are not somebody else's fault. All the blame always starts with ourselves….The intention of driving all blames into one is that otherwise you will not enter the bodhisattva path. Therefore, you do not want to lay any emotional, aggressive blame on anybody at all. So driving all blames into one begins with that attitude."

Jamgon Kongtrul's Commentary: Whether you are physically ill, troubled in your mind, insulted by others, or bothered by enemies and disputes, in short, whatever annoyance, major and minor, comes up in your life or affairs, do not lay the blame on anything else, thinking that such-and-such caused this or that problem. Rather, you should consider: This mind grasps at a self where there is no self. From time without beginning until now, it has, in following its own whims in samsara, perpetrated various nonvirtuous actions. All the sufferings I now experience are the results of those actions. No one else is to blame; this ego-cherishing attitude is to blame. I shall do whatever I can to subdue it."