The ordinary mind always throws the responsibility on somebody else. It is always the other who is making you suffer. Your wife is making you suffer, your husband is making you suffer, your parents are making you suffer, your children are making you suffer, or the financial system of the society, capitalism, communism, fascism, the prevalent political ideology, the social structure, or fate, karma, God…you name it!
People have millions of ways to shirk responsibility. But the moment you say somebody else – X, Y, Z – is making you suffer, then you cannot do anything to change it. What can you do? When the society changes and communism comes and there is a classless world, then everybody will be happy. Before it, it is not possible. How can you be happy in a society which is poor? And how can you be happy in a society which is dominated by the capitalists? How can you be happy with a society which is bureaucratic? How can you be happy with a society which does not allow you freedom?
Excuses and excuses and excuses – excuses just to avoid one single insight that “I am responsible for myself. Nobody else is responsible for me; it is absolutely and utterly my responsibility. Whatsoever I am, I am my own creation.” This is the meaning of the sutra.
Drive all blame into one
And that one is you.
Once this insight settles:
“I am responsible for my life – for all my suffering, for my pain, for all that has happened to me and is happening to me – I have chosen it this way; these are the seeds that I sowed and now I am reaping the crop; I am responsible – once this insight becomes a natural understanding in you, then everything else is simple. Then life starts taking a new turn, starts moving into a new dimension. That dimension is conversion, revolution, mutation – because once I know I am responsible, I also know that I can drop it any moment I decide to. Nobody can prevent me from dropping it.
Can anybody prevent you from dropping your misery, from transforming your misery into bliss? Nobody. Even if you are in a jail, chained, imprisoned, nobody can imprison YOU; your soul still remains free. Of course you have a very limited situation, but even in that limited situation you can sing a song. You can either cry tears of helplessness or you can sing a song. Even with chains on your feet you can dance; then even the sound of the chains will have a melody to it.
Next sutra: Be grateful to everyone
Atisha is really very very scientific. First he says: Take the whole responsibility on yourself. Secondly he says: Be grateful to everyone. Now that nobody is responsible for your misery except you – if the misery is all your own doing, then what is left?
Be grateful to everyone
Because everybody is creating a space for you to be transformed – even those who think they are obstructing you, even those whom you think are enemies. Your friends, your enemies, good people and bad people, favorable circumstances, unfavorable circumstances – all together they are creating the context in which you can be transformed and become a Buddha. Be grateful to all – to those who have helped, to those who have hindered, to those who have been indifferent. Be grateful to all, because all together they are creating the context in which Buddhas are born, in which you can become a Buddha.