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by David Truman

CAUTION: "The Law of Cause and Defect" is about personal responsibility. Blunt and uncompromising, it purposely fails to support the common view that most of the bad things that happen are someone else's fault. If you tend to get very upset when you realize that you've done something wrong, or experience depression from critical self-insight, we recommend AGAINST reading this article. On the other hand, "The Law of Cause and Defect" will encourage those who more fully accept personal responsibility as a supreme evolutionary value.
Life is composed of two elements: causes and effects. If your life has negative events or circumstances in it, they aren't just "happening" to you. The negativity is traceable to a cause, usually a human cause. For example, people who get divorced are splitting up because they are somehow CAUSING their relationships not to work.
It is relatively easy to accept that things that happen are caused to happen. But it's significantly harder to acknowledge cause where WE ourselves are involved.
Who -- me!?
For example, often we find that many of our relationships have a certain recognizable quality, tone, or outcome in common. Since WE are the common denominator in all our relationships, could it be that we are the cause of that common quality? Logic says, "Sure!" It makes sense to presume that the mood and aura of our relationships is, in general, an effect of our own attitude and orientation within those relationships. But human nature says, "Who -- me!?"
Responsibility: a hard act to swallow.
It is human nature to deny or downplay our own responsibility for the effects we cause. We resist seeing the ways in which we have caused our own lives; we prefer to feel that life treats us worse than we deserve. If that little preference doesn't create problems, it certainly makes them permanent! But the liberating purpose of evolution is to get past feeling victimized by life, by entering the sacred realm of full, conscious responsibility.
The cause/effect connection
We've all heard it said many times, "As ye sow, so shall ye reap." And most of us accept that statement as true. But how often have we thought about what it means? That truthful principle is telling us something we often ignore about cause and effect:
A cause and its effect are essentially alike and inherently connected.
The belief that a cause and its effect are different or separable leads to a life of illusion, confusion, and delusion.
In fact, cause and effect cannot be different. Even the wild and crazy world of human relations obeys this principle. We rarely get reactions from other people that are essentially different or distinct from the cause we are being. It is nearly impossible to be a jerk and have people treat us like a saint.
Nevertheless, here we stand, manipulating the proportions of accountability "in our favor." We are saying, in effect, that we are more innocent than we are, and the world is more guilty than it is: "All right, maybe I did a little thing that was wrong, but the world's response was totally unreasonable. I was 10% wrong, but the world was 90% wrong."
What does that little responsibility re-apportionment do? It makes us 90% LESS concerned about being a jerk than we should really be, and 90% MORE concerned that the world start being more fair in its responses. So we will be proportionately less concerned about changing our act -- and proportionately more concerned about how everyone else had better shape up!
Stuck with bad CAUSES?
Do you see what's wrong with that picture? If our lives are negative it is almost surely because we are coming from a negative place and we are causing negative things to happen. But with 90% of our energy on blaming others or the world, and only 10% of our energy on our own responsibility, we're stuck with negative results. We cannot be sufficiently motivated to adjust a cause which we think is really not all that bad. All we have is an inclination to run away from the world which we think IS all that bad. And, from a safe distance, we will try to discipline, change, or adjust the world -- because that's where we think the lion's share of the improvement is needed. Oh dear!
If denying responsibility doesn't create problems, it certainly makes them permanent.
You see, to the extent that we claim that the repercussions to our activities are unfair, we are denying our negativity. As long as we continue to underestimate the severity of the effects we're causing, we will be liable to keep on being that same cause. So our lives will remain unchanged -- still negative -- as a result. And therein, friends, lies the rub.
The WRONG arm of the law?
Stuff happens, no doubt about it. Who said the world is fair? And generally speaking, our friends are not any more willing to take responsibility than we are. There's a scary thought!
But truth be told, unfair stuff happens a lot LESS often than people think it does. All too often, when we cry "foul!," we are simply seeking to minimize our own responsibility, and justify our withdrawal from the hot seat of human relations.
Granted, it's possible for someone to overreact to something we did as a result of their own personal hang-ups. In such circumstances, we could justifiably claim that we didn't deserve the untoward reaction we got. But as memorable as those unexpected explosions are, they represent only a tiny fraction of the feedback we receive from others moment by moment.
Before calculating the percentages for yourself, consider this:
MOST of our feedback from others is unspoken -- the involuntary response of people's divinely-installed sensibilities to the way we treat them. They flinch inwardly. They are disappointed. They cope with it.
And this:
THOSE responses are virtually always right on the money.
OF COURSE it's all their fault, darling; but what if it isn't?
So, more often than not, when we blame people who are at the effect of our causes for reacting to us, we're just crying wolf. But did it ever occur to you that WOLF is FLOW spelled backwards? If the wolf is at the door, maybe it's just our own mess flowing back to us.
To mess up and skip dodge
Avoiding responsibility is a tough job. We have to run away pretty fast and pretty far to elude it. The most extreme method is to sever relationships and be completely reclusive. But there are lots of other ways to run away: reduce or limit social interaction; be less than honest and open, less than communicative while communicating. No matter what method we use, the result is the same: distance from others.
Why we run from intimacy.
Why do we run from intimacy? The tendency to cut ourselves off from others may well be an intuitive or subconscious recognition of the accuracy of others' feedback. Perhaps we understand that if our behavior is negative, the repercussions to it will be negative. Perhaps we even realize that the world is not unfair and unjust and mean, but that WE, in our own withdrawal and blame, are ultimately being unfair and unjust and mean. We don't dare face the repercussions for our own unfairness if it were discovered, so we run and hide.
If we deny the appropriateness of the critical feedback we receive, we can more boldly say, in running away, that we are withdrawing from the cruel world. But is the world playing hardball with us, or are we playing hardball with the world? Perhaps the cruel world we refer to is only a dim reflection or projection of our own cruelty. Irresponsible people are hardball players if anyone is. The hardest ball being played is at the level of cause, not at the level of effect.
The LONG arm of the law
Withdrawal from social contact is supposed to insulate us from the negative effects that originate outside ourselves. When we sever relations as a result of our negativity, we think that we are escaping the unfair world. But what about the unfairness that comes from us? What about the negative effects we create? Do we hope there will be no effect for the cause that we are, if there is no one around to reflect it back to us?
The proof of cause is in the pudding of effects.
It's the old tree-falling-in-a-forest-when-there's-no-one-around trick. A man can certainly PRETEND he creates no effects when there's no one around to point them out. But still: can there be a cause with no effect? Of course not! Sure, no one will give critical feedback if no one is there to do so. But what about internal effects? What about the fact that we are uneasy in privacy, lonely in a crowd? What about the fact that we have problematic minds, fitful dreams? The effects live in our own lives, our own bodies, our own consciousness: the cramp, the suffering, the neurosis, the misery. So the relief is short, the suffering long.
Individuals who try to eliminate the feedback of social interaction are hoping in vain to become unconscious. Consciousness never sleeps. The law of cause and effect never sleeps. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. For every cause there is an effect. Run from the effects in one place, and they will crop up in another. Reduce the feedback cycle, and the disease just runs unchecked.
As long as the cause remains, the effects remain. We cannot eliminate the effects of our negativity unless we eliminate the negativity itself. The monkey's on our back. The force of negativity is still with us.
It never works to run from our own problems. Better to face the Muzak. We do MUCH better to suspect any tendency to think that people's responses to us are unfair. And we do MUCH better to embrace social feedback.
Don't moan -- OWN!
Responsibility: a hard-to-swallow pill with mighty healing power.
What a moment of true enlightenment, when we realize that our results will not change unless their cause changes. It is a wonderful discovery when we see that our behavior IS a negative cause: "It is not the world that needs to change: it is ME."
True spiritual advancement is built on rigorous self-honesty. Somewhere along the way, it becomes a matter of integrity -- and this integrity is neither depressing nor shocking -- to face the full ugliness of our separative motives, of our divisive, negative, blaming orientation to life -- and yes, of our fearfulness itself.
Our fear is an absolute barometer of our responsibility, or our lack of it. A posture that is inherently shaky, fearful, and childish reflects blaming thoughts about the world. The more fearful we are, the more blaming and negative thoughts we harbor. And likewise, the more we resist communicating, the more blaming and negative we are in our actions and in our disposition as a whole.
The wise man will not seek to justify his fear as if it were being caused by things outside of himself. He knows that fear is but a projection of his own negative mind.
Change the cause
Everything that's not your responsibility falls outside of your control. That's exactly why it's dangerous to claim that your effects are inappropriate to your cause. That's exactly why it's dangerous to think that other people's reactions are crazy, irrelevant, or excessive. So disown as little as possible.
The responsible party can FIX it!
Ownership is the key to liberation. Own everything you can. The more you own, the more you can fix. The more you own, the less there is to fear.
You can expect better feedback from the world, and you can expect better feedback within your own body, when the cause that you are changes. You must change your thinking, you must change your orientation to the world. You must make it nice instead of mean. You must make it responsible instead of blaming. You must make it constructive instead of neurotic, cowardly, withdrawn, disassociative. And if, in your opinion, your orientation is not negative in any way, get real -- and THEN change it.
At some point, the buck must stop at the cause, and you're it. Change the cause.

by David Truman

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