Is psychological learning about correcting mistakes?

Is it possible to not do repetitive mistakes without accepting it?

Let’s first understand the very word mistake itself. And then perhaps we may not need to go further with the question of accepting or not accepting.

What is a mistake? In whose notion is it a mistake? The church or my religion or my parents say that I am making a mistake if I am not worshiping some image or idol. The governments say I am making a mistake if I am not exercising my right to vote. My school teachers say that it is a mistake if I am not attending classes in school and doing my homework. The law says that I make a mistake if I am not paying my taxes. The society says that I am making a mistake if I am stealing something from someone. My conscience says I am making a mistake if I am having an affair with someone while I am married.

What does it mean to accept such mistakes? Am I accepting them because of fear of authority of all these institutions? Am I accepting the mistakes because of fear of consequences – physical, economic or social? Is there any other way of “doing” a mistake and “accepting” it?

So there are two authorities against whom we commit a mistake and to whom we accept. The first is the external authority – all institutions and organizations. The second is the inner authority – thinker, observer (or conscience).

Let’s look at external authority first, as it is simpler. When I make a mistake in the eyes of institutions, do I question the validity of the authority of institutions, or have I accepted their authority plainly out of conditioning, or fear of consequences? If I am interested in truth and freedom, I am going to question all forms of external authority. I am not going to simply accept authority of institutions because they say that one should follow or get punished. I realize that if I do this I am forever going to live my life in fear, conflict and suffering. I shall always be living a life of sham – something inside and another person outside. I realize that to be free, there can be no authority of any person or institution.

How do I question this external authority? Am I going to rebel like a teenager? Well, how long does this teenage rebel last? Ultimately the institutions tame you because you have to, after all, earn your living, bring up a family, and have your pleasures. They know this very well. So questioning of authority comes from a far deeper source, than merely impulsive likes and dislikes at particular moments or phases of one’s life. We had the hippie revolution which petered down in two decades. We may revolt against authority at the level of systems, like the communist revolution. What happened? We modified one system and another came in it’s place creating a bloodier authority. So it is clear that the questioning of authority has to happen from a very deep level; from a level which is not outside, but within us.

We have examined authority at the external level of institutions but there is authority within us – the thinker. Even if no one is watching us, controlling us or monitoring us, there is an inner judge – the thinker or conscience, which is judging our activities as right or wrong, good or bad, true or false. This thinker says that I are making a mistake. We say that this thinker is a higher “me” which has the intelligence to decide and give judgments on our thought and behavior. Even if we have seen through the authority of external organizations and institutions, we cannot escape the authority of this thinker inside.

How does the thinker decide whether what one is doing is right or wrong; against which standards does it make this judgement? Is it the voice of God? Is it some higher intelligence? Or is it something that is at the same level as thought? Isn’t the thinker, all that one has been conditioned to believe as good and bad, right and wrong and it ultimately tells me whether I am making a mistake or not? When I was a child my parents, my teachers, my religion told me that I must not steal, must not tell lies, must not cheat, and if I was caught doing these things I was punished. All these memories together make the thinker. And these memories are again thought.

So the thinker, which is at the same level as thought, cannot end conflict. The one which is making the so called mistake is thought, and the one which is judging/accepting the mistake(thinker) is also thought. Within the field of thought, we shall continue this process of making and accepting mistakes indefinitely. In order to be free from this cycle, we need to have a deep insight into the nature of psychological thought, and understand that thought cannot solve our problem.

If we have such an insight, then we shall not speak the language of making and accepting mistakes. Then we are interested in learning about oneself and thought without any judgments. Judgments of right and wrong are made only when we are performing actions in life according to some standards erected by an authority. When we have done away with all authority, including the authority of the thinker, we are no longer doing a performance in life. A performance is based on what you have been taught. It is based on the past. But learning is a totally different thing, it is an alive process where one is living and learning constantly every moment. In such a life there are no mistakes : just learning. This does not mean that such a person becomes irresponsible. On the contrary he/she acts from the truest sense of the word – responsibility.

Image by Avid Photog –

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