We’re All Doing The Best We Can

When I first heard this said in the context of a Dharma talk I was shocked by what I perceived as the naivety of the speaker. I knew that I could do better – and hadn’t my teachers known it when they wrote it on my school reports?

Over the years I’ve come to see that yes, people, myself included, could very probably do better in the future but right now, in this moment, with conditions as they are and all that has occurred in the past to bring about this moment, we are doing the best we can. What I mean by doing our best is not meeting some standard of achievement, but responding wisely and compassionately to what is in front of us. All beings want to be happy and all of us are wise and compassionate at heart, underneath all the fear and worry.

And even if I were to doubt this, I have found that just taking the attitude that everyone is doing their best removes any blame and judgement and enables me to respond in what I hope is a more skilful and kind way. It doesn’t mean I am blind to problems that need to be addressed, but shame and blame never helped anyone to let go of their fears and insecurities, leading only to more fear and contraction, whereas love and acceptance are truly transformative and enable people to open up and see things in a new light and have the courage to act differently.

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3 thoughts on “We’re All Doing The Best We Can

  1. Stephen

    As I was reflecting on this topic, I heard a short radio item about Rabbi Lionel Blue who died just before Christmas, he was quoted as saying that spiritual growth requires as much effort and dedication as learning to play the guitar. As someone who has travelled that path I understand how big a commitment that is, and I immediately felt struck down – I am nowhere near doing the ‘best I can’ in pursuing my spiritual journey.
    But with further reflection I’m starting to believe that ‘being the best one can be’ is an unhealthy judgement – what am i comparing myself against? Actually I can’t do more than be in the moment and react, respond and do my bit to make the world a better place (and I’m not adding the caveat – to the best of my ability!)

  2. Betty Hahner

    Season greetings, I agree, and knowing there is no personal doer, doing, apparently anything, that, that is happening now is perfect. No past no future. No blame no gain.

  3. Norman Trewhitt

    Indeed we ARE doing the best we can, – with what we have at the time. It really is the “setting up [of] our own standards” the Sandokai warns us against that makes us judge our best efforts as failure.
    Not that I always get it right, mind you. But that I guess is another matter.


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