I woke up in the early morning hours because I had to pee. While in my half-awake state, I heard a skateboarder going by on the sidewalk outside the window. I thought that was weird since it was still dark, but then I didn’t think about it again and went back to bed.
I had almost fallen asleep when I heard the ice-maker dropping ice. My bedroom door was open, so it was really loud. There was crunching and falling and grinding. I was relieved when it was through and that I didn’t have to get up and close the bedroom door.
But that wasn’t the end of this (very exciting) saga. The crunching of ice continued. Every few minutes, juuuust as I alllllmost fell asleep, NOISE. So eventually, reluctantly, I got up to deal with the situation.
I took the ice compartment out of the freezer, poured off the fresh ice, melted the mass of old ice block with hot water from the sink, dried it (to avoid another ice-mass), returned the fresh ice to the container and put it all back in the freezer, convinced I had solved my problem. I crossed the threshold of my bedroom and I heard it again! This time, the sound came from my bathroom, not the kitchen. I was annoyed and a little freaked out but I followed the noise and turned on the light. It wasn’t the printer. It wasn’t in the ceiling. It took me a few minutes, but eventually I could tell it was coming from outside.
With my ear near the window and my eyes straining to make out any shapes through the blinds, I finally understood that the sound came from the sprinkler. We have a new sprinkler cycle and there must be a wide arc of water that hits the outside of the house every two minutes. That was the sound! Should I turn off the sprinkler? Could I ignore it or put a pillow over my head? Within 5 minutes of uncovering the great mystery and considering my options, the sprinkler cycle ended, the weird spray-assault was over, and I made my way back bed grateful for my quiet environs.
Where’s the yoga in all this?
This is avidyā. This is it! Avidyā is experiencing something other than how it is. It’s incorrect perception that you think is correct. And this happens all of the time! If I had accurately understood the source of the annoying, sleep-disturbing sound, I would have taken different action. The 4:00am icemaker saga did not do anything to resolve my noise-problem.
Yoga is so practical and Chapter II of the yoga sūtras has a lot to say about these obstacles to clear perception and what to do about it. Here’s the sūtra that I’ve been thinking about most since Tuesday.
Patañjali: Yoga Sūtra II.14 te-hlādaparitāpaphalāḥ-punyāpuṇyahetutvāt
In the book, The Heart of Yoga, T.K.V. Desikachar translates this as, The consequences of an action will be painful or beneficial depending on whether the obstacles were present in the concept or implementation of the action.
Chase Bossart offers us this translation, When something is coming from the wrong place, we’ll know because we won’t be satisfied. The need will come back again.
And I’ll sum it up with this: The annoying sprinkler sound isn’t going to stop because you fuss around with the ice-maker for 15 minutes. You need to know that it’s coming from the sprinkler to take the appropriate action.
I’ve been thinking about the kleśas and avidyā for years, but this experience made me laugh. I can get drawn in by spiritual implications of obstacles to clear perception and theory and interpretation of the sutras, but it might not sustain my long-term interest if it weren’t so very practical. When we understand a situation clearly, we know the appropriate actions to take.