This week we will scrutinize a particular self-destructive tendency that many of us use to hold external situations and people accountable for our shortcomings. In doing so we say to the world, “you are culpable for everything I lack, and in this way I never have to face or grow into my shortcomings." It is obvious that we can only progress so far, both as human beings or as spiritual aspirants, as long as this tendency persists, but few of us work effectively to end these projections. We continue blaming others because the pain of owning our behavior is too unsettling. When aversion becomes the driver of our actions we can be certain that we are governed by the unconscious mind. The movement from the need to blame toward the willingness to hold ourselves accountable is a continuum that demonstrates our spiritual maturity as clearly as any indicator. In fact the right side of the continuum, taking accountability or living without projection to its finality, is identical to selfless realization.
Accountability confronts two defense mechanisms that limit conscious awareness: denial and self-aversion. Denial is our unwillingness to accept what is true and self-aversion is our tendency to idealize our human condition. Both can be summed up as imaginary distortions of life. Self-idealism is encouraged within this culture and destructively carried within us, and we simply dismiss situations, experiences, or states of mind that do not fit the narrow corridor of our imposed images. Freedom is moving beyond our need for self-protection and eliminating the boundaries that burden our lives. As we release ourselves from this set of conditions the world rejoins itself as a continuous whole, and we rejoin ourselves as part of that totality.
One of the false nirvanas of this continuum comes when we realize the utter joy of moving beyond our set beliefs into a more conscious expression of ourselves. As with any expression of our practice, we can become rather dogmatic and unyielding in our need to pressure others to follow our example, and it is here that we can easily get caught up in the belief that our practice is the “only way.” The counter-influence is the realization that taking any stand upon our practice robs us of further accountability.