Monday, 22 March 2010

Alternation between theory and practice, objectivity and subjectivity

It seems to me that personal development comprises at least one theoretical and practical phase. By this I mean that most intellectually inclined people get excited about a certain worldview or beliefsystem tend to read up on things and organize their rational views for a while. I did just that but after a number of years of constructing the backbones of my worldview I got naturally bored with the limitations of intellectual thought. I say "naturally" because it felt just that; natural. There was only so much I could learn theoretically until it started to feel stale, repetitive and of course, most of all, removed from the actual fact of existing in this particular reality. When I think about it, I seem to recall some similar feelings coming to me earlier on in my life. To me it looks as though there's a wave-movement that alternates theory and practice in various forms throughout my life, some phases being more obvious than others. This resonates with my belief that all phenomena do in fact alternate in a yin/yang sort of fashion as they change with the progression of time.

Unfortunately, one can get stuck in a phase and resist change. It's easy to spot this sort of state of being in some people as they will invariably sound stifled and dogmatic in their intellectual approach to life's issues. So - there's nothing wrong with a theoretical framework, but it has to be integrated into one's personal being and way of life. Each one of us has to find their own way of doing it as it's bound to be a test and challenge to our individual uniqueness. Therefore, there is no textbook out there that will explain exactly how to do it so that it is right for you.This is a deeply subjective experience as opposed to the ingestion of theoretical knowledge that one might characterize as more objective in nature. It might even be difficult to talk and share these things with other people as they are so subjective and often quite emotional. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why we don't see much talk about the more practical approach of people who are serious spiritual seekers? It's in the very nature of practical experience and field work (so to speak) that it's "out there" far away from the chair by the computer or the vicinity of a library. Perhaps it's also something people don't feel inclined to demonstrate on an intellectual internet forum because they fear being labeled "subjective" and not taken seriously.

I don't know... these are just a few thoughts that come to mind. I am also a bit concerned about the gap between people who enjoy their armchair philosphy and those who passionately engage in changing the world on the practical level. As an intellectual, it's easy to become complacent or disenchanted as one witnesses and understands ignorance within society. I have certainly felt that myself (e.g. "there is too much to be done and I want to make a BIG difference if there is to be one") and have to work so as not to get too sucked into such feelings. As it happens, my life seems to present me with challenges in the real world that help me confront some difficulties I may be experiencing in engaging in some work of a very practical nature (e.g. regarding social injustice) that meets with so much resistance from those in charge of the bigger decisions in society. It's a bit of a cliché but I guess it does boild down to a matter of being aware of the opportunities of growth and change, but also of finding out what is your own personal way of making a difference.

I think we can still be useful to society even when we are not quite "there" yet in terms of inner peace. However, I assume that our work is at its best in our moments of calm and positive determination that comes from a sense of "spiritual passion" or something of the kind. Again, I think that someone on a sincere path to deeper insight will have these moments despite other experiences of imbalance and rupture. Perhaps it's also a question of following an inner incentive when this happens and not do much when we are not in a good frame of mind! Of course, it goes without saying that having too much ego or too little of it causes problems - being too assertive or too easily bogged down, to mention a couple of common issues in this regard, In any case it's important that people who realize this don't get too discouraged on their way towards a more wholesome existance.

Digital photo by author, all rights reserved 2010