Saturday, August 23, 2014

Owning Our Decisions

"Drive all blames into one."
-The Root Text of the Seven Points of Training the Mind, Chekawa Yeshe Dorje

Whenever we make decisions, we must strive to make each solely on our own. In this way the consequences for the decisions we make are our own, allowing less distraction from the inevitable blame game. This doesn’t mean to not listen to others or seek experienced guidance or counsel from others. However, when we do make a decision, we make it wholly on our own. For many, this may seem like a departure from awareness. However, it actually opens us up to exploring the outcomes of our intentions and actions without looking for a villain. The villain is our ignorance, not some external sentient being that makes us a victim.

By owning our decisions, we simply strive to make the best choices we can, given our understanding of ourselves, of others and of our surroundings. We then can balance that understanding with our intentions and our previous relevant experiences. When we really listen and try to understand someone, that interaction aids us in seeing ourselves more clearly. Maybe, someone is adamant at being right and urges us to follow their advice. If we follow this person’s advice, we must do so with the realization that we’re making the ultimate decision. We believe this person isn’t misleading us or we wouldn’t act on the advice. This person may not be actively misleading us, but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to bring us negative consequences. This person might be mistaken or making an error in judgment. We simply don’t know until we find out for ourselves. If we believe someone, we must understand that we might be wrong to do so. It’s our decision to believe.

Maybe, we’ve already made that particular choice and seen the unfortunate outcomes firsthand. We can choose to not believe. However when we disagree with someone, we must also consider that the surrounding conditions have changed significantly since we developed our previous understanding. This is why finding the best path to actualize our intentions is so difficult. The path itself is changing as we grow and change and as the world changes and evolves. This is the groundless nature of reality.

There are countless examples of this in the history of humanity. Before planes, the fastest way to travel was by train and before that by car and before that by running. If we don’t allow for the conditions and our understanding to evolve, we are stuck in a fixed point in space and time. Where once we had managed to rid ourselves of ignorance, we have invited it back in by holding onto our old understandings. Attachment to being right is as much ignorance as being attached to someone else being wrong.  

It is not helpful to our understanding to feel bad about making mistakes. That is how we learn. If we’re so busy pointing fingers, we’re busy distracting ourselves from making better decisions right here and right now. We don’t need to punish ourselves for our missteps and miscalculations. We need only to learn. It is also not helpful to think poorly of others that have made mistakes. It may give us satisfaction, but how does that satisfaction help either of us gain understanding or expand our awareness?

We can apply this to others as well. As long as our intention is not to harm others, making every effort to not do so, we know that we are not to blame for the mistakes of others. Considering our own tendency to look for someone else to blame for our consequences, we must consider this when others blame us for their own. Taking these accusations personally certainly isn’t very productive. And, we can absolutely relate to the predicament of those that are caught in the throes of their own ignorance, as we are and have been similarly impaired.  

As much as we might find relief in blaming someone else, it does nothing to affect or rid ourselves of the real culprit . . . our own ignorance. We can do something about it, and we will be more effective at doing that by eliminating the distraction of blaming someone else and taking on blame from others. There’s nothing to feel bad about in recognizing our ignorant nature. Our ignorance is an opportunity. By understanding it, we can relate better to everyone. By understanding it, we can learn and let it go.  

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