When Others Are Wrong I am in the Wrong

When others are wrong I am in the wrong. When I have transgressed I alone am to blame.

Sixth Patriarch Huineng

Philip Kapleau says, ” With the spiritually developed it is otherwise. It would be hard, I think, to find a higher ethical principle than that enunciated by the sixth patriarch of Zen, who said, ‘When others are wrong I am in the wrong. When I have transgressed I alone am to blame.’ Such a deep sense of personal responsibility could come only from one who truly understood the law of causation at a profound level. Such a person would know that the network of interrelationships between all forms of life is so vast and complex that we cannot, in a cosmic sense, disavow responsibility for whatever happens anywhere–least of all for the repercussions, on our own and others’ lives, of our thoughts, speech, and actions.

Someone once came to me for help in resolving the angry feelings he had for a former girlfriend. I asked him what he had been doing to this end and he replied that he had been directing loving thoughts toward her. I suggested he start reciting a repentance verse and begin directing feelings of contrition toward her. He was taken aback. ‘Why should I apologize to her?’ he insisted. ‘She was the one who hurt me.’ ‘But,’ I told him, ‘the fact that you felt pain means you did something to earn it; no doubt you caused her pain as well. You equally share responsibility for this situation.'”

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