The Path to No Path

Denial

The fundamental reason why people fail to free themselves from unhappiness is that they live in denial. They deny that they suffer, they deny that they choose to suffer, they deny all responsibility for their suffering. They say things like the following:

“You make me angry.”
“What's wrong with you!”
“You shouldn't behave like that!”
“Why don't you grow up?”
“You piss me off.”

The common factor in all of these is the word “you”. It is “your” fault that I choose to feel the way I do, and “you” should change so that I can be happy. It is because I refuse to accept any responsibility for my suffering that I blame you for it and then demand that you change.

Of course, this “you” can be anybody and anything: “I am miserable because it just will not stop raining”. I can even blame myself: “It is because I am a bad person that my parents do not love me”. The denial in this statement is in the refusing to question whether or not I really am a bad person – instead, this is taken for granted.

I am certainly not saying that you should blame yourself instead of blaming your parents, the weather, or the government. This would only be another form of denial. Rather, I am suggesting that you can simply observe what you are doing and see whether you wish to continue to behave in that way – in other words, to start taking responsibility for your behaviour.

Remember that responsibility and freedom go hand in hand; you can not have one without the other, for they are two sides of the same coin. To be free you need to take responsibility for yourself. If you take full responsibility for yourself, you gain freedom. The more freedom you have, the more responsibility you accept for your life. This acceptance of responsibility is certainly not a duty, it is not a burden, it is not something you 'should' do. Rather, it indicates a growing maturity.

Yet the very idea of taking responsibility for themselves is unacceptable to many people. They are terrified at the prospect of looking at themselves. They catch a glimpse of what Freud called the id, a “seething cauldron of emotions” with no sense of morality, and they flee from it.

The pain (and therefore fear) of being conditioned is so great that they feel they would rather die than look at it. So much easier to just deny everything, even deny that they are denying. So much easier to choose to live in unhappiness, day in, day out. So much easier to just give up on life.

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If you should wish to contact me about anything you have read here, especially if you feel strongly for or against what you have read, or if you feel that something is missing, I offer you an opportunity to share.

I look forward to hearing from you.

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