‘Decide with Awareness and Responsibility’ – my thought on a topic shared by a student

A student once said, “Even though I think I understand Oki-sensei’s philosophy introduced in the articles of this blog by reading and thinking over the words, I can’t actually use it well. For example, when I took a yoga lesson from my teacher and was asked to write feedback, I thought that I should write it. Later on, I was surprised when my teacher told me that I had the option of not writing it. I might be trapping myself in small habitual ways, not realising that I have this kind of freedom. However, I feel that choosing such freedom involves the awareness of taking responsibility. I feel overwhelmed with this feeling.”

I think about this topic as follow :

It seems easier to get on with what others have set out for you, but at some stage you need to choose for yourself how you’re going to do things. Taking your example about writing feedback or not, even if you accept it as an unbreakable rule, you still have to decide yourself how much and how finely you are going to write. You may unconsciously write with the same degree as usual, but if you look around, you will see one person write two pages and another half a page. So, you’re already adopting that freedom. Unlike the school test format, your yoga teacher probably doesn’t assign a grade to your work. I think what the teacher is looking at is whether your feedback contains your new insights or reflections that will help you grow.

So, when you are very busy with home or work or are ill and you don’t have enough time to write well, you admit the situation to yourself and may decide with your responsibility that you will not write feedback this time. I am not saying this is what you should or should not do. In facing the reality and by thinking over and checking your feeling, you need to come to some decision yourself.

I don’t think you push yourself to write in order to be praised by the teacher. However, I think most of us have a habitual pattern of evaluating ourselves through the eyes of others, in other words, through the eyes of the whole imaginary society excluding our own, probably largely due to our education since childhood.

Now that we can touch philosophies like Oki-sensei’s, we have a chance to break out of our habitual patterns if they are not helping our development. Oki-sensei used to say, “I want to be someone who can praise themselves.” Also, when a staff member made a mistake, he would say, “Well, what are you going to do about it?”, encourage them to be aware of the problem including its wider influence on other aspects, and let them express how they are going to handle it. And then he would advise them if there was a better way. It was not Oki Sensei’s way to set things out for his students from start to end and make them follow that blindly.

Yoga teaches us to be our own master. Independence and awareness. To walk on this path, as in the case of the body being trained step by step, is all about taking what we can do now for ourselves and build up our capacity step by step. At this time of practising, if we express our individuality, we can enjoy its process, rather than feeling it as a painful and boring endeavour.

Looking at this from another angle, ‘decide with awareness and responsibility’ includes awareness of your achievement to date. It may be small achievement in the eyes of others, but for you, it is the path you have created in your life up to today, which could not have been otherwise. Your biggest achievement is that you have lived your life so far. Also, ‘decide with awareness and responsibility’ includes awareness that you have been able to live owing to all the blessings the universe has given to you. It also includes the faith that you will be able to live through the combination of the universe’s blessings, your efforts and gratitude.

If you interpret in this way, ‘Decide with awareness and responsibility’ can bring warm encouragement of “So, let’s do my best” from within yourself.

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