Transforming Mea Culpa to Felix Culpa


Have you ever experienced this?

If you vow not to think of food, or a person, an incident, or alcohol or monkeys, then your brain will only focus on food, alcohol or monkeys!

That is the meaning of the Christian parable of Adam being expelled from God’s paradise.

Once God told Adam that ‘the tree of knowledge is forbidden, do not eat from it”. This worked as a provocation instead of a deterrent. Adam didn’t know about this special tree until the commandment, “don’t go near it!”

– then the tree became the most important tree. The temptation was too great…he now had to risk committing the sin of disobedience and rebellion.

We’ve all learnt from Adam….when we do something wrong we say, “mea culpa” meaning it’s my fault, I’m to blame and I’m sorry for it.

If you think about it, our lives are packed with mistakes, errors of judgement, regrettable incidents, missed opportunities all over the place. The beautiful thing is that we learn, adapt and improve and this is invigorating and exciting!

It’s the human way to turn sad things into happy things.

But what about faults that actually end up with good results?

Actually we’re surrounded by them….they’re everywhere.

There’s a Latin phrase for that: Felix Culpa. It means happy fault, which refers to something you thought you did wrong, or something you are a seeming victim of, or something that’s regrettable but because of either a correction or coincidence, something even better resulted that otherwise would not have taken place.

Let me share an example…

I used to eat too much bread and it was making me sick. Mea culpa. But identifying this helped me learn so I eat healthier food and I feel better….felix culpa.

Another one…I failed to renew a prescription for a medicine. Too bad. I was worried about the symptoms that would recur and I remembered an alternative technique that I was taught but hadn’t used. It worked! And I learned that I can do without this medicine after all. Felix culpa!

Yet another one: I lost my way and took a wrong turn.

Whoops! And discovered that the shop I had been looking for was right there!

The more you think about this whole notion of a happy fault, the more it seems like a universal rule in our lives. As we observe this phenomena we realise that it’s a beautiful dynamic…many times others make mistakes that we observe, and learn from what they did.

For instance, you want to start a business, but someone else beats you to it…they fail but you learn from their failure, and do it better as a result.

What turns a fault into a good result?

Learning, adapting, changing!

We can’t anticipate all the consequences of our actions, life is full of surprises, many of them are happy….and many of them grow out of mistakes.

Mea culpa need never be the end of the story. There is always another day, another way by which we can know more and always an opportunity to live a better, happier life.

So take the forbidden path and make it a Felix culpa in your spiritual quest.

Until next time…