The Highest Good: No Fight, No Blame

Without a fight, there is no blame. This basic truth can be found in the Tao te Ching—no fight: no blame—as well as in the major texts of many spiritual traditions. Blame seems that integral to the human experience.

In last week’s post I chose the phrase aflame with blame as a reference to its incendiary nature. It is quick to flame, this blame, although it is not a trait with any substance.

Whatever person or event we blame is not what causes us to suffer (Byron Katie). Blame is a distraction, and it is easy to get caught up in its mindset.

We suffer when we hold onto a mindset; in a blind stance, we dig in for a last stand. Mindset is a misguided attempt to avoid the inevitable.

Nothing ever goes away until it teaches us

what we need to know

Pema Chödrön

 Turtle Row in fall 1013

It would be hard, maybe impossible, to provide an example of a life experience that does not teach us for in every moment there is something to be learned. At a certain point in life, each of us becomes aware that what breaks us open is what we need to make us whole again.

It is how we learn. It is hard to accept, at least for me.

But time and again, I have realized this one lesson: when I open myself to learning rather than blaming and struggling against, I find the highest good in any situation. The flames of blame and the smoke of striving fade away.

Often, I turn to the teachings of the Tao (in translation) for I treasure its basic truths. Such reflections soothe and instruct every time I return. I am refreshed.

Water gives life to the ten thousand things and does not strive

(Tao, Verse 8)

And like water, the highest good is life-giving, “flowing in places men reject and so is like the Tao”  (Verse 8). All we need to remember is that water will flow—even through rock–rather than reject the route.

The highest good never rejects us, either, even when we do our best to shape what will not be shaped. There is no blame, no fight, no mindset.

Chronic illness is my greatest teacher, as I have mentioned many times. Even in my more difficult moments, I am more aligned with learning than striving, which is not to say I do not have some fiery moments of blame throwing. They are not as frequent.

I find it easier to recognize and to dismantle a mindset, and to do it with self-care and love. After all, a mindset deflates quickly for it is only made of air. And once I breathe it in, I can breathe it out.

Mindset is only a thought no matter how often it may appear. In my experience, mindsets return for they have unimaginable power IF they are allowed to attach and become unassailable belief.

We can learn from observing a mindset if we let it go for what it is. That is the way to keep learning rather than to continue struggling. I find hope in impermanence no matter how many times I meet similar situations. It makes the highest good in any situation seem not only possible but realistic.

We are more like water, wanting life for all and strife for no one. It is ours to flow, like water through rock if we must, open to the ten thousand things and like the Tao rejecting none.

High Tide St Marks 0214


11 thoughts on “The Highest Good: No Fight, No Blame

  1. Thank you, Karen. Great timing, as always. Just the reminder I needed. I received bad news today, then spent much of the afternoon blaming, stuck in the “if only.” Angry. After a few hours I caught myself. I hadn’t been ready to feel the sadness. It’s an old pattern. Then I read, “Nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what we need to know.” Breathing out now.


    1. Pema Chodron is so concrete, so wise, so generous in what she offers, which is often painful but she gives it in love. You read it in her words. Sorry you received bad news–never easy–good for you for sitting with your emotions for I agree with you, it is the only way to exhale completely. Thanks so much, Janet. You know I wish you the best.


  2. First, I love the Pema quote. She is so wise. Second, yes–the flow! That is tough. When you’ve found a nice little pool where you want to rest and sit, but the current is calling you to flow. And you know if you don’t, you’ll get stuck as icky green muck:).


    1. Ah, so you know that green muck as well…. 😉 In reading your comment, I got to thinking, “Can I imagine my life without ever having read Pema Chodron?” As a mere exercise I suppose I could but it would be difficult and most important, why would I want to? After all, I spend less time in the green muck and do my best to appreciate the moment I have by that nice little pool before it is time to go. Wonderful words as always, Kay. Thanks so much!


  3. I too find comfort and inspiration in the Tao Karen.
    Blame doesn’t exist where we are one. Its only when we think of ourselves as separate and apart, that the ego creates this thinking to protect itself.


  4. Beautifully crafted, Karen. Effortless in its flow through my mind. (congratulations! my mud mind thanks you.) 😀
    Love you to pieces! Meredith


  5. Another wonderful and insightful post, Karen! I think it is a very human thing to seek blame – whether to blame others, or blame in the abstract. But as you say, it’s not constructive – and we can transcend that. Sometimes, there is nothing to blame; and in our quest to assign pattern and shape to all that we see, we miss the truth of that.


    1. Thanks, Matthew! The substance of blame really fascinates me for it seems that we do “miss the truth of it,” as you say. I really like that phrase in the context of “assigning pattern and shape” to everything. It is as if we layer an incident with a substance that it does not have but in order to know it we must determine its dimension, as if we could. In terms of blame, it too easily takes on a mind of its own has been my experience. Wonderful thoughts as always, Matthew. Thank you!


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