We humans are clever creatures. We can use our big, overdeveloped brains to justify absolutely any action. We can use crafty words to explain our wrongdoings both to others and to ourselves in ways that make them seem reasonable and right. But we always know when we’re wrong, even if we cannot consciously acknowledge it.

The trick in knowing that we’re making excuses is that excuses always take work. I can feel the wheels turning up there in my head when I make up justifications. When I notice that is happening, I withdraw energy from the process. It then becomes impossible to believe my own lies. I won’t say I always do this with 100 percent efficiency. But when I do, it works extremely well. I’m left with only the bare recognition of my own action and no explanation or excuses.

Excerpted from The Other Side of Nothing: The Zen Ethics of Time, Space, and Being. Copyright ©2022 by Brad Warner. Printed with permission from New World Library.