The Blame Game – Jiva Institute of Vedic Studies

( – The Blame Game

There is a general tendency to blame others for our difficulties. The ego experiences a sense of satisfaction by blaming others for our problems. It is challenging to think that we can be the cause of our own troubles because this thought hurts the ego. However, blaming others or finding fault in others does not help anyone, especially us, no matter how comforting it may feel. Instead, we remain stuck in our problems and continue to sow seeds for further trouble. Political leaders thrive on this trait—they have a penchant for blaming the opposite party; this is how they harness support. People who like to blame others are often influenced by such political leaders. Both the news media and social media are experts at the blame game.

The Enemy Within and Without

Śṛī Kṛṣṇa advises against this. Both to Arjuna and Uddhava, His two disciples, He pinpoints one’s own mind as the true culprit. In Bhagavad Gītā 6.5–6, He explains in two verses that our real enemy is within and not without:

uddhared ātmanātmānaṁ   nātmānam avasādayet
ātmaiva hy ātmano bandhur   ātmaiva ripur ātmanaḥ

bandhur ātmātmanas tasya   yenātmaivātmanā jitaḥ
anātmanas tu śatrutve   vartetātmaiva śatru-vat

“The self is to be uplifted through the mind and never to be degraded because the mind is indeed the friend of the self as well as its enemy. The mind is a friend specifically to that self by whom the mind is conquered, but for a person whose mind is not under the control of the self, his mind itself behaves adversely, like an enemy.”

The Real Culprit is the Mind

To Uddhava, Kṛṣṇa speaks an entire chapter on this point. He tells the story of a miserly brāhmaṇa who did not use his wealth, not even for his own self. Because of his miserliness, family members deserted him, and thieves plundered his wealth. Being forlorn and destitute, he took to the renounced life and wandered about, mistreated wherever he went. The brāhmaṇa, however, tolerated everything and did not blame anyone. Based on his own experience as well as knowledge from śāstra, he recited a song called Bhikṣū Gītā. The first verse summarizes the whole song: Do not blame others for your troubles. The real culprit is the mind. He sang:

nāyam jano me sukha-duḥkha-hetur na devatātmā graha-karma-kālāḥ
manaḥ paraṁ kāraṇam āmananti saṁsara-cakraṁ parivartyed yat

“These people, the devas, my own self, the stars and planets (graha), karma, or time—none of these are the cause of my happiness or distress. Śāstra teaches that only my mind is the ultimate cause [of my joy and suffering], the very mind which is instrumental in my cycle of birth and death.”

In the rest of the song, the brāhmaṇa elaborates how none of the entities mentioned in this verse are the cause of his joy or suffering. Generally, we think that we suffer because of others, or because the devas are putting obstacles in our life, or our own self, i.e., the body, is giving us trouble, or we are suffering because of past karma or fate, or it is just the time (such as Kaliyuga or a particular astrological configuration) that is making us suffer. The Bhikṣū Gītā states that none of these are the cause of our suffering. They may appear to be the cause, but the real culprit is the mind. If the mind is not under our control, then any situation—good or bad—or any person—friend or foe —or any state of the body—healthy or sick—or any time—Kaliyuga or sāḍēsātī—can make us suffer.

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