Responsibility is an interesting term.
In mindfulness, it means owning your surroundings and acknowledging your place in what is happening in the now.
Blame is another sinuous and intriguing word that comes into conflict with responsibility when we decide it is time to begin taking down the metaphorical house we have built since childhood. When we inhabit the now and rely on the deep intimacy of “not knowing,” then there isn’t much more than the moment and the infinitude that brings it to our doorstep and us to it. Meeting life without blame and taking responsibility for our being—our state of mind, our level of genuine presence—could be an interesting and evocative practice for us to examine.
“Oh my, I can’t believe her! It is all her fault.”
“Oh, I had it so rough when I was a boy, what a horrible childhood. No wonder I’m so f*cked up!”
These statements come with a great deal of baggage that can weigh us down and bind us to the prison of a story we believe sincerely. When we buy into any kind of mentally created story (a huge past ordeal or a recent interaction with a stranger), it comes with us wherever we go like a heavy anchor chained to our mind. A story literally creates our reality because it impairs the clarity we experience when we step into the life that is here and greet what comes without wearing self-imposed defensive ski goggles.
Whether we are aware of it or not, our internal stories and their respective themes and motifs drive our internal world and consequently, our way of interacting with what is here. If there is a narrative—a troubled past, an ebb and flow with addiction, a troubled relationship, or a tendency to follow the herd, then mindfulness means recognizing it (finding the builder), sitting with it—no matter the length of time—and patiently clearing it out so that we might meet life as openly as possible.
It is hard to meet infinity when we are stuck in house arrest.
On paper, this is a very simple and straightforward practice: watch the mind and its ways with care, recognize the stories in your lives and find their roiling sources, and then give what you find at the epicenter of these stories your loving attention until they release themselves and become weightless.
But this is no easy matter.
Buddha didn’t say that “it is easier to conquer a thousand cities than it is to conquer your own mind” for shits and giggles. He said it because turning the light of your awareness inwards can be a difficult and profound internal process. Abusive pasts, drug addictions, and old stories—an identity built on meaningless materialism or force-fed ideology/religion—are difficult to recognize, and are also difficult to love for long periods of time in order to set free.
This letting go part is one of the most fascinating things in Buddhism because the mind doesn’t really want you to let a seething issue go. It enjoys grasping onto things as a way to build a strong foundation for the house we like to inhabit—the same one that conceives of infinity in a certain way and blames someone for something that happened 20 years ago without doing much about it.
It is hard for some to digest this, but when you sit in meditation or begin facing up something dense and sticky, you might run into a deep-seated attachment and realize that it doesn’t want to go anywhere. Why?
It really boils down to this, at least in my mind: “You! If you take this blame away, then the world we have built since this unexamined incident has the potential to come crashing down and you will be left in the middle of infinity with nothing to hold onto. There might be no God, no good or evil, and no one to blame for all our cherished problems!”
And that’s when I like to say, “how intriguing!”
Intimacy seems to come from this place.
Ed: Brianna B.
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