Nearly all of the problematic thinking, the thinking that causes
suffering, is about blame and credit. Who did this? Who did that? I
did! You did! They did!
We hold the idea of free will sacred. We want recognition and credit
when we do something 'good'. We want to blame somebody when 'bad'
But each event has billions of causes. How can one be singled out and
held totally responsible when the event depended on all of them? What
happens is what happens. 'Free will' implies that it could have
happened differently. What does it mean to say that it could have
happened differently? 'I' could have made a 'different choice'?
Really? Could I? How? I made the choice I did. If I had made a
different one, looking back at it, it would seem just as inevitable as
the one I made. The choice made is a function of what went before,
what information is available in the moment, what seems best. The only
way I would have made a different choice would have been if something
else seemed best at that moment, and it didn't.
But all this 'I'ing is misleading, too. The one the choice is being
attributed to isn't there any more than the choice is. There's just
what happens, what appears.
Thinking about this is just thinking. Thinking can lead to a
conclusion that 'I' am real, that 'I' have 'free will', and that 'I'
am 'responsible' for 'my' 'choices'. Watching the process carefully
can also lead to a conclusion that all there is in each moment is
awareness watching the appearance unfold. Both of these descriptions
are just descriptions. Either can be believed. Neither can be proven
or disproven. Neither is 'the Truth'.
But seeing the complexity of causation and the emptiness of the ego
idea can allow the sense of responsiblity to relax and with it, all
the psychological baggage that it engenders -- guilt, sin, shame,
pride, arrogance, malice, spite, humility, jealousy, envy, and so
forth, so that suffering can be seen through.
'Finding fault' and 'assigning blame' creates a mentality of
victimhood and is an immature and painful way to live. 'Taking
responsibility for oneself' is more mature and creative and leads to
less suffering. Seeing through the ideas of ego and responsibility
leads to freedom from suffering. Painful events may still happen, but
without being "my fault" or "your fault" or requiring forgiveness or
'Taking responsibility for oneself' creates an unbearable burden for
the one attempting to take responsibility. Reality is just too complex
and doesn't do my bidding. The people who seem to be truly sane and at
peace are the ones who, in one form or another, have let go of trying
to run the world and are willing to accept what is, as it is.
All that's really needed is careful watching. What is can be seen by
looking, not thinking.