12. Drive all blames into one.

We live in a society and world filled with blames and complaints of all kinds. When something goes wrong—and there is always something going wrong—we look for someone to blame. If we can’t find who is responsible, and our urge to blame is still lingering around, we choose someone willy-nilly. It could be anyone. Fill in the blanks, “It’s the ______! (Jews! Women drivers! Husbands! Kids! Corporations!…)

It is true that if we are trying to solve a problem, we need to uncover its source, to discover who or what is responsible. That is pragmatic, and gives us a way to correct the problem. But our attempt to find someone to blame is often not all that straightforward and not very helpful, either. Think of all the intractable seemingly never-ending conflicts in the world, with no solution in sight, and each side convinced they are right. “You are to blame!” “No, it’s all your fault!” And it goes on and on. This same pattern occurs in the small conflicts of daily life, from the playground to the family, to the workplace. The blaming game is continuous. It has a life of its own and leads nowhere.

Conveniently, blaming others allows us to avoid looking into our own role in the problems and conflicts we encounter. We look outward, but we do not look within. And even in looking outward, once we have assigned the blame, we go no further. So we do not get to the root of the problem. We stop short, satisfied that we are off the hook and someone else is at fault.

This slogan is quite radical. Instead of blaming others, you blame yourself. Even if it is not your fault, you take the blame. It is important to distinguish this practice from neurotic self-blaming or the regretful fixation on your own mistakes and how much you at fault. It also does not imply that you should not point out wrongdoing or blow the whistle on corruption. Instead, as you go about your life, you simply notice the urge to blame others and you reverse it.

Today’s practice

Pay attention to how blaming arises and what patterns it takes.  See what happens when you take on the blame yourself. Notice what changes in your own experience and in what you observe around you.