use your awareness for action: sutra 3.49

use your awareness for action: sutra 3.49

Imagine you’re allergic to strawberries. Imagine you grew up in a strawberry-free home and so are ignorant of this allergy.

Now picture yourself at a fancy party and a tray of chocolate-covered strawberries floats around the room enticing guests. So, like everyone else is doing, you indulge in the innocuous-looking little treat.

And it is divine. The strawberry flavors are new and exciting and like nothing you’ve ever tasted! You long for another. Or at least the regular reoccurrence of strawberries in your life!
You’re already creating a daily strawberry indulging ritual in your mind.

Then, almost as quickly as the thoughts form in your head, you find it difficult to breathe. You’re breaking out in hives and starting to wheeze for air. Someone calls an ambulance and you’re rushed to the hospital where your symptoms are addressed. Once you’re safe, it’s ascertained that this was definitely attack by strawberry.

As a result of this horrific episode, you now know: eating strawberries gives them uncanny power over your well-being.

With this truth established, what do you do?

Do you take steps to fulfill your dream of enjoying strawberries every day, ignoring the reality of their danger?

Or, now that you’re fully aware of your allergy, do you resign yourself to a life devoid of strawberries, even though you’re also aware of the pleasure you’re giving up?

That sounds like an easy question. And generally when life or death decisions come with such immediate and obvious symptoms, it is easy to decide.

Of course you put your awareness into action and nix the strawberry dream!

sutra 3.49:

From this the mind gains an ability to become aware, or to know instantaneously, without the use of any other means of coming to know. There also comes complete control over manifested being.

Translation by Kofi Busia

Sometimes, though, the consequences of our actions aren’t as obvious or as immediate, and the task of putting awareness into action appears more complicated.

Let’s say you’re not allergic to strawberries, and you decide to eat a bowl of chocolate covered strawberries every night for the rest of your life. Maybe this would be just fine. Maybe that would be too much chocolate (is there such a thing?!). Answering this question would almost certainly take more time and a more fine-tuned awareness.

Gradual change can be nearly impossible to spot and as such you may not know that your slight increase of morning sluggishness is the result of your evening sweet treats. The strawberries are such a delight when you’re eating them, how could they cause such a yucky feeling later on?

Well, that’s the task of honing your awareness. Explore, investigate, get an objective perspective from someone else if needed, and over time, what you notice will be fuel for what you know.

Knowing through awareness is fuel for action. Action that is the direct result of established truth (be it established by scientific experiment or your own) can free us from dangers personal and universal.

You can take actions that train your brain not to need the newly discovered deathly delights of strawberries! You can take actions that let you live a life of truth and joy. You can take actions that create harmony with your fellow human beings, your home planet, your universe.

You might say therein lies the fruit of your practice.

hari om tat sat!

An earlier version of this post first appeared on the Yoga 216 blog.

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