In my view, the greatest obstacle in this work is self-justification.
We have become a society of professed victims. The pseudo-science of popular psychology has helped to create a culture of blame. Each of us is encouraged to develop a narrative that explains our difficulties, limitations and unhappiness in terms of the injuries done to us by others.
What I justify I cannot change. Only by removing the judgment, the blame, can change begin. That is why impartiality is so important in this work.
Perhaps some of you know that ‘justified’ is an old term used in the printing industry. When copy is ‘right justified’, the spacing of the words has been changed so that the text lines up on the right. Computers now do this automatically. The irregular is jiggled into place, making it conform.
Our personal narrative is justified in a similar way…a hundred little edits and embellishments to our personal history which support and ‘explain’ our behaviour. This is how it goes: my father was very strict with me so I blame him for my inhibitions. My narrative, repeated endlessly to myself and to my friends (as often as they will listen), leaves out the small gestures of loving attention in favour of the moments of anger. The narrative lines up, I am a victim, I am justified.
This might suggest to you that the way out is to disprove the narrative, go into your past and find out what really happened. I would not say this is always wrong if you can somehow get to the truth and accept it.
Is there another way? Consider where the problem lies. Is it not the impulse to blame? Could the solution be impartiality?
This is why we have such an emphasis on impartial observation of self. Yes, you will follow in the footsteps of the ancients who claimed that the key to spiritual evolution is to ‘know thyself’. You may also have the benefit of releasing yourself from the cult of blame. As the Khwajagan have said: “The undesirable must be relinquished before the desirable can be attained.” From the point of view of this work, blame is undesirable. On the other side of it is compassion, for oneself, for others and for all sentient beings who share in the sufferings and imperfections of this world.