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18. Crimes against wisdom

There is a word in Sanskrit that when translated means 'crimes against wisdom' - Prajnaparadha. It's better understood as doing the things that we know we shouldn't – for when we do, we suffer.

Every small decision we take has an impact, the impact may well be small to start with, but a continuation of that small decision over time grows, and with it – our suffering.

For example – eating a small amount of ice-cream from the tub with a spoon; hands up who sticks at just that one spoonful? Nosiree, anyone else then find that spoon takes on a mind of its own – dipping in multiple times, absentmindedly putting spoon to mouth through the entire new episode of Killing Eve?

It's the mistake of our intellect – I'll 'just have this one spoonful' err…no you won't, you kid yourself. The whole tub will be dunked, and you won't remember half of it. You'll scrape around the empty bottom in dismay, disappointed with yourself when you feel the belt around your jeans creak to adjust. Out will come that internal dialogue that berates for our unskilful actions thereby heaping on more layers of suffering – we think sod it and reach for the second tub.

Continually picking up that unskilful habit only serves to worsen our situation over time, but we have ways and means to get in our own way and disrupt – all we need to do it tune into what is happening for us in that moment. Often, it's an emotional driver we've hard-wired to take a specific course of action for, feeling tired – reach for ice-cream, feeling stressed – reach for ice-cream, feeling grumpy – reach for ice-cream – you get my drift.

We can start to more mindfully spot and alter these crimes against our own internal wisdom by keeping a habit diary – build it into your daily reflective practices even. What habits do not serve you well? Is it mindless eating, staying up late to watch TV because you need to decompress, but in reality it means you'll be tired and grumpy with work colleagues or loved ones the next day…When do these crimes against your wisdom occur – is there a pattern? When you are overtired, stressed, restless, bored?

Some useful advice – I forget who said this, but the quote is "what got you in won't get you out".

If you don't want your belt to creak, do not reach for the spoon and the tub, take a bowl – a kinder serving, put the tub back, then settle in to watching Killing Eve. If you've had a long day at work – how about some quiet reflective time and less blue-screen so that you get a good night's sleep.

Reflect on what happens when you commit that crime against your wisdom – what emotions and feelings are present? Then flip it, and reflect on what happens when you take more skilful action – notice the feelings and emotions, and consider re-visiting the practice of taking in the good so that you start to notice that the emotionally reactive habit isn't always the most beneficial habit, and tune into your more skilful inner wisdom.

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