Book Excerpt

From The Twelve Steps of Forgiveness by Paul Ferrini

Take Responsibility

One of the ways I begin to love myself is to begin to take responsibility for my life exactly as it is. Whatever I see on the outside is just a reflection of what is within.

I get into trouble only when I cannot accept my life as it is. Sometimes I reject certain people and situations. Sometimes I hang onto certain people and situations. Both rejection and attachment indicate lack of acceptance.

My acceptance of my life does not mean that it will not change. Surely it will. Sometimes that change will be anticipated. Sometimes it won't.

Change will come as it is needed. But right now my challenge is to be with what is. Is there pain? Okay then I must be with the pain. Is there sadness? Okay, then I must be with the sadness.

There is no "supposed to" in life. There is just what is happening. And that is always enough. If it seems not to be enough, or perhaps to be too much, it is because we perceive it that way.

Our beliefs are just ways of seeing. They almost always require correction, because we almost always see out of desire or fear.

A most important spiritual practice is to just let things be as they are without interpretation, without embellishment, without judgment. That immediately gives the ego a coronary. Imagine telling the ego not to judge, compare, interpret? What then is it to do? It doesn't really know how to do anything else.

So the practice becomes watching the ego go through its judgments and interpretations, not stopping the ego from going through them. Because as soon as one tries to stop the ego from judging, a new level of judgment begins.

So we just accept the fact that the ego is doing its number and watch it. That's the hurt child in all of us crying out for attention. It wants love, but does not know how to ask for it. And it goes on badgering forever!

It's okay. Do you hear that folks? It's okay to be in ego, because we all are in ego! Ninety percent of the time, we're coming from desire or fear (and as we've said desire is just another form of fear). There's nothing to be ashamed about. We all do it.

Acknowledging where we are allows us to witness it. Witnessing is just being present watching the mind dance around in the air. It's not going to stop dancing until we let it play itself out. So watching becomes a spiritual practice, a practice of deep compassion for ourselves and others.

You see, what we have is what we have. We're not supposed to get rid of any of it. And we're not supposed to add to it either.

We just need to be with it till we come to understand it. The more we understand desire and fear the more we become free of their compulsions. It's not something that we do. It's just something that happens naturally through our practice.

We have to remember that our goal is not to change the world or even ourselves. Our goal is to change our perceptions about the world and about ourselves. Our goal is to see with the eyes of love instead of the eyes of fear. This involves a different way of looking, a more objective way of looking, a way of looking without being attached to what we see.

That is our spiritual practice. It is one we share with many traditions.

So taking responsibility means accepting my life as it is. That means I don't waste my energy trying to change the eternal form of my life. It means that I don't look to others to provide the motivation for change. If change comes at all, it comes from within. It comes from being with what is here and now with patience and integrity.

The best way to confront a negative situation is not to run away from it but to walk right through it. It's only negative because I've forgotten my innocence and my brother's or sister's. Why let myself be put off by my fear and that of others?

Nothing I see means what I think it does. Nothing I see means anything. Fear begins with interpretation, with memory of the past. Yet each moment is whole and free. In each moment, my choice is reborn.

It does not matter how many mistakes I have made. I do not carry them with me, although I may believe I do. Each moment I am free to choose. I am free to take responsibility for my life.

Let me go ahead with patience and faith. If I walk down a certain path, I am meant to find where it leads. Even if it comes to a cul de sac, I have lost nothing. No path is the final path, yet every path brings a lesson that must be learned. When all lessons are learned, the need for a path disappears. The need for a form dissolves.

It's okay. I am in ego and I create moment by moment out of desire or fear. That is the way it is. I take responsibility for it. I don't need to change anything. I just need to be aware of what's happening.