RESPONSIBILITY VS BLAME
If we accept the possibility that we ourselves have made all the causes for all the effects we currently experience in our lives, does that then mean the woman who suffers abuse at the hands of her husband or boyfriend is to blame for it? Or even worse, deserves it? Or that a baby is responsible for having been born into poverty?
From the Buddhist perspective, we are indeed responsible, but importantly not to blame, for every effect we experience (blame accruing only if we intend to yield a particular effect at the moment we made the cause for it). For example, if you buy a train ticket intending to go to New York but mistakenly board a train for Los Angeles, your own action makes you responsible for arriving in Los Angeles but not to blame for it (as arriving in Los Angeles wasn’t your conscious intention). Whether or not you deservedit isn’t even a consideration. Through the inexorable workings of cause and effect, you received the effect of the cause you made. The law of cause and effect is impartial, impersonal, and strict, just like the law of gravity, requiring no higher power to make it run. It explains how bad things can happen to good people (everyone has made bad causes in the past, and each cause carries with it an effect that must at some point be experienced in the future). It also, most importantly, places the power to change our destiny firmly in our own hands: we can continually make better causes in the present that lead to better effects in the future, the best good cause, Nichiren Buddhism teaches, being to actively embrace the law of cause and effect itself by chanting its name, Nam-myoho-renge-kyo (another post in itself).