You would not excuse insane behavior on your part by saying you could not help it. Why should you condone insane thinking? There is a confusion here that you would do well to look at clearly. You may believe that you are responsible for what you do, but not for what you think. The truth is that you are responsible for what you think, because it is only at this level that you can exercise choice. What you do comes from what you think. You cannot separate yourself from the truth by “giving” autonomy to behavior. T-2.VI.2:2-7
This quote from the Course gives us some food for thought. It is true that we condone “insane thinking” i.e. our excuses. Sometimes we slip into the default mode of excuses for some inaction or action that has not gone well. This can occur with a supervisor, a friend or family member. We say, “I didn’t do X because of X.” In this instance, we are sidestepping and outsourcing the blame. This keeps us from the treasured characteristic, “Honesty,” as described in the Manual for Teachers, The Characteristics of God’s Teachers.
If we are honest with ourselves, then we are in congruence with our mind and our actions. They are regulated as the same. One who hopes to be on the spiritual path and succeed must make a mindset shift to the idea of “I am responsible.” Owning self-responsibility is vital whether we fail or succeed. The evolved spiritual person knows that there is more to gain by admitting a mistake and taking action to correct such, rather than dwelling, blaming or wasting time. You demonstrate to others your strength either in responsibility or blame. Excuses do not move us forward, they keep us in stagnant waters.
Rev. Gayle, Mari and I have been recording a podcast series on the Responsibility for Sight section in Chapter 21. As this crucial point in this section states:
Say only this, but mean it with no reservations, for here the power of salvation lies:
I am responsible for what I see.
I choose the feelings I experience, and I decide upon the goal I would achieve.
And everything that seems to happen to me I ask for, and receive as I have asked.
Deceive yourself no longer that you are helpless in the face of what is done to you. Acknowledge but that you have been mistaken, and all effects of your mistakes will disappear.
First and foremost in this path of A Course in Miracles, we must accept the responsibility of our mind and subsequent actions. If we are entrenched in the “blame game” we will not experience spiritual growth.
As Jesus continues his instruction, it is impossible that we are driven by the events occurring outside of us, nor is it impossible that it was not our choice. We always have an opportunity in how we determine such events. What is your goal? What is your priority?
We’re told it’s either suffering or happiness. Which will you choose? Choose suffering, and you are in self-imposed bondage; choose happiness, and freedom is as wide as the sky. Are you ready to release the excuses and be thoroughly honest with yourself, that is, your mind and your actions? Are you ready to realize how your behaviors impact others in the world or even your life in general?
As in Lesson 189 as I shared in Sunday’s Livestream, “In Our Quiet Hearts,” it shares with us how we look upon the world is how we will experience it. The similarity with the “Responsibility for Sight” section is apparent.
What would you see? The choice is given you. But learn and do not let your mind forget this law of seeing: You will look upon that which you feel within. If hatred finds a place within your heart, you will perceive a fearful world, held cruelly in death’s sharp-pointed, bony fingers. If you feel the Love of God within you, you will look out on a world of mercy and of love.
We fail here in the world, it’s human nature. Comfort with failure comes with practice. Excuses are a way to avoid failures. How do we shift our mind in this? By staying disciplined in our study and more importantly, our practice. Mistakes, yes, are a part of life, but we cannot use those as a shield to keep us from deeper self-development.
As we have been taught in ACIM, we don’t blame others for their mistakes but for our own.
You think you hold against your brother what he has done to you. But what you really blame him for is what [you] did to [him.] It is not his past but yours you hold against him.
Remaining in the present moment and keeping your priority of peace as the goal, is how we can serve ourselves. It is to ask ourselves when a situation presents itself and feel the quick knee-jerk reaction to judgment, “Is this what I would have instead of the Peace of God?” Is peace absolutely your one goal? Or are you in a trance state with your ego and fulfilling ego’s needs?
How can this occur in our lives? Let’s take this example: Are you consistently late to meetings? You relay one excuse after another until the group no longer takes you seriously. Are you cognizant of how the lateness impacts the other members? Have you taken a moment to be aware of their feelings because of your consistent disruption? Have you looked at yourself to see that perhaps this meeting at work is not a priority for you, thus why you are always late?
Sometimes we are so short-sighted that we do not see the reason why we keep having issues, or conflicts, or even seeming abandonment by others because of our behaviors. Our weapon is attack instead of the peace mindfulness can bring. Mindfulness leads us to the blessed acceptance and awareness of our mistakes. Once we have this and take steps towards self-responsibility, we have achieved a layer of growth like never before. Bring the Light of Awareness to your life, and experience liberation.
P.S. A favorite PBS Special of mine was Dr. Wayne Dyer’s “Excuses Be Gone.” I couldn’t find the special on YouTube but I did find the audiobook on there.