To be awake is to be aware of our wake
Suppose a person is sleepwalking. They flail their arms and hit a loved one – something they would never do when they were awake. Being asleep, they are not aware of their wake.
When a ship moves through a sea, the trail of disturbed water it leaves behind is called its wake. During our life-journey, we too leave behind a wake – the consequence of our existence and actions. Sometimes, we get so caught in rushing to our destination as to be oblivious to the wake of distress and devastation that we leave behind.
Such obliviousness characterizes much of modern society with its pursuit of financial growth through the exploitation of natural resources. While environmental exploitation can have many specific causes, it has a universal underlying cause: our spiritual somnolence.
The Bhagavad-gita explains that we are spiritual beings who are presently in a slumber. This dormancy is induced primarily by our infatuation with matter and material pleasure. The Gita (13.22) indicates that our craving to enjoy matter leads to good and bad in life. Our material existence is like a dream.
When we start practicing yoga, especially bhakti-yoga, we start waking up spiritually. One consequence of our spiritual awakening is that we become aware of our wake – we understand the kind of actions we are doing, the kind of ramifications those actions have on others and on the environment, and the kind of karmic consequences we will get for those actions.
Just as an awakened person doesn’t go about hitting people needlessly, similarly, when spiritually awakened, we don’t go about unwittingly hurting other living beings, the environment and our own spiritual essence. Instead, we act constructively, thereby contributing to the solution.
Thus, by striving for spiritual awakening, we attain not just ultimate liberation, but also a more harmonious life in this world.
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