I’ve been thinking about the idea of ‘walking the talk’ as
it relates to what we think we know about the Theosophical
way of life, compared to how we actually live our lives.
I read the theosophical texts and register the truth of
them, yet observe that I don’t quite live their truth.
Sometimes I suppose I do, but often, not so. I can
talk the talk, but see I don’t always walk the walk. I
think you all must know what I mean.
So I would like to ask, do you find this disconnect also in
your life? If so, how do you respond to that
observation? Personally, I become disappointed
when I see this. I resolve to do better, yet I
Don, I would like to think we can all find this disconnect
in our lives, and this is a good thing! It means that you
are now viewing yourself. Life is a struggle. We all
are a sorry lot of suffers when you think about it.
Don't forget we have life times of skandas behind us, and
have built up this personality and these tendencies also.
We do the best we can, when we can.
How should we treat ourselves when we can fully view this
disconnect? Disappointment, from my personal experience, has
no positive outcome, yet sometimes it is reactionary. Where
do we go from here?
Good question - I thinks that it's important to re-focus on
the practical aspects form time to time. For sure, everyone
goes through funky, fuzzy, cloudy phases - that's part of
the deal - the caterpillar has to dissolve within a cocoon
before becoming a butterfly, symbol of the soul among the
Romans - Here's some interesting practical daily life ideas
(from the first Blavatsky book I read)- a small booklet
called Practical Occultism -it turns out that the article is
probably not by Blavatsky - it's from an unsigned British
pamphlet issued during HPB's lifetime - but it has some
pretty decent suggestions, IMO (PS - the original text makes
the seven sections correspond the days of the week:
When I recognize my shortcoming and if there is nothing I
can do about it, I just move on. It does not seem to help
if I dwell on it. It seems a better use
of energy if I shift my focus to the teachings. The
process is like Sisyphus pushing the rock up the mountain
again and again.
Don, the answer for me is YES too. I think it is a
natural conclusion to establishing an ideal in your life.
The ideal, they say, is truth at a distance. So when
you say to yourself, I am going to be an ethical person, I
am going to adopt an altruistic mode of living, I am going
honor every truth by its use you set yourself up for the
inevitable gap between the ideal and the current state of
realization. But being aware of it is a strength in
and of itself. Most people lah de dah through their
lives and don't strive to bridge the gap between the ideas
they hold and their conduct. Gandhi says that the more
effort he put out to attain his ideals the more they would
recede. Why? because the ideal grew and deepened in
his perception as he attuned himself to it ever more.
You could liken it to gaining greater and greater
appreciation for a classic piece of music.
I have found it helpful to turn this equation around.
Theosophy says each man is an immortal soul. That our
higher nature is practically perfect and all knowing, that
is the real man, not the imperfect one here on earth
struggling. What is imperfect are the vehicles the
immortal soul has to work with. So it becomes our task
to chip away at the imperfections so that the light can
shine through. In other words don't identify with the
imperfections but try to identify with the Soul which is
perfect. The immortal soul is not time bound, so what
is the hurry if we cannot perfect the vehicles over night,
just do what you can, that is more than enough.
Thanks. Yes, being aware of the truth about ourselves
- the low and high aspects - is in itself a good and
necessary step which gives us strength, I agree. The
strength aquired by knowing ourselves may allow us to
sustain yet greater awareness of ourselves. The very
gaining of understanding seems to grow yet further
understanding. It perpetuates itself, you could say.
Perhaps the very understanding of this process, or you could
say the simple knowing of oneself, is how the lower
I have observed this and still do in my self also.
Additionally, when I got deeper and deeper in meditation I
saw myself as a small, small person, such imperfections,
such vanity, and egoism! A desperation and guilt may come as
a result, but this is rooted in self pity and fear, so it is
in the lower vehicles. I believe also that you must not
dwell in this thoughts and emotions but turn your gaze
upwards again and, in time, these periods or moments last
less and less and you gain inner peace as you become more
attuned with the higher worlds.
Humility and patience are seed thoughts for me on this one.
Thank you very much for this subject.
Wonderful post Don. I make the same observation within
myself, certainly. I agree with Gerry, that this kind of
inner state is a natural result of holding to an ideal: we
can't help but see the difference between the practical life
we're living and the ideal one we hold within, and from that
we might often feel bad about our current experience of
life, kind of self-judging ourselves to be inadequate.
I wouldn't necessarily look at the situation in terms of a
disconnect, though. The heavenly man has his head above in
heaven and his feet below in the mire, and while we all do
struggle with the battle that rises up within us as we
attempt to walk the path, from another angle I think it's
very good training to be constantly faced with a range of
inner experience: from the personal up to the impersonal.
We're learning to embrace the whole, and I think our
conscious experience of the battle within gives us insight
into the condition of humanity, and allows us to perhaps
more fully understand the full range of the One Life.
We might imagine the state of a mahatma as one wherein the
ideal is experienced as the real (though, as Gerry says,
they would then have but a higher ideal), but from another
perspective it may just be that such a state involves a
keener understanding of the full range of the human
condition, and an ability to place oneselfen
any level of that rangewithout
losing oneself to it. And I think that's the key: not
losing oneself in the lower: which doesn't necessarily mean
lower, but simply not making it personal, not clinging to it
(whether out of attractionoraversion),
and not immersing our identities in it.
So, like you, I do find myself resolving to do better when I
observe that I'm not living up to the ideal, but perhaps
that resolution need not lead to apersonalstruggle;
that is to say: perhaps it need not be sodifficultto
be ever-falling-short-of-the-ideal, if we can, to some
degree, remove thepersonal"I"
from the "I want to do better". After all, no matter how
"perfected" we become (or how perfected we already are, in
our higher nature), there will always be an ideal we have
yet to rise to (or awaken to), so the condition of
"falling-short-of-the-ideal" may just be a permanent one;
what may be impermanent is our taking it personally, making
The more I immerse myself in this path, the more it seems
that the "trick" may be simply to not make the battle
personal, to not becomepersonallyinvolved
in the need to do better, for the sake of the personality,
motivated by the personality, or by a personal judgment on
our need to do better, etc.. But instead, to... well, to
allow Krishna to be the charioteer. :)
Thanks for the nice comments. Good to meet you as
It seems that we can agree that we're multifasceted beings
with conflicting desires. There seems to be a 'battle being
waged within ourselves' over what kind of being we'll
be. There's a great struggle here.
Would it be true, as we move from the personal to the
impersonal, that the battle seems to die out? Do our ideals
whither away, desires shrink, and as you say Jon, once
Krishna becomes the charioteer the struggle ends?
Good questions Don. This is really where the rubber meets
the road, isn't it!? :)
I would venture to say that our ideals don't whither but
become ever higher and higher. As we reach closer to an
ideal we begin to see another, even more grand ideal above
and beyond it. And so it goes, on and on, ever-climbing.
As far aspersonaldesires
go, my experience has been that the more we move towards
allowing Krishna to be the charioteer the louder those
personal desires might protest! (at least initially). But,
over time they do seem to shrink or diminish in both their
loudness and (most importantly) their power over us.
As for the struggle, again just my experience, it seems that
the struggle of the personalagainst
certainly lessened significantly. And it seems to me that a
great majority of the struggle-aspect of the path is just
that: the personal waging war on itself under the guise of a
battle between higher and lower. It's not to say that the
battle between higher and lower doesn't exist (it surely
does), but that the lower plays a nice little trick in the
game by setting itself up as its own false-duality, mocking
or playing the role of a "higher self" while simultaneously
playing the role of a "lower self" and then doing battle
with itself, with, it would seem, the ultimate aim of
keeping our attention fixed securely within the lower.
I imagine we can all relate to this: we do or think
something, and then "another" voice pops up to chastise us
for it, and so a duality of "selves" engages in a (usually
not very pretty) dialogue within. But that chastising voice
is only a false "higher self"; it's the personality playing
the role of what it thinks the higher selfshouldbe
like (which is usually a terribly limited impersonation!).
The real higher self, meanwhile, allows its "chela" to err
if it is going to err, and doesn't "rag on it" when it
screws up (which would only be a kind of non-productive
focusing on the past). Instead, it patiently continues its
efforts to guide and direct in the present moment.
I think part of letting Krishna be the charioteer is to
allow the lower to play such foolish games without engaging
in them: perhaps a little like the way a parent might allow
a child to throw a tantrum until it's tuckered itself out.
And as the personality tires itself out (which it will if
it's not being fed attention), then certainly the
personal-struggle-aspect of walking the path is lessened.
I imagine there to be a certain point on the path where the
voice of the lower is so weak that the kind of struggle most
of us are used to really does cease to play much of a role.
It is likely then replaced with a new kind of difficulty,
which is the real mountain climbing of becoming an Adept.
Yes, this is where the rubber meets the road :) It's
the very stuff of our efforts here I suppose is to
fight Arjuna's battle - as we answer the call of the
higher self, forces are marshalled against this effort,
including the protestations of the lower self.
I've pasted below a comment from WQ Judge's commentary on
the Gita (Ch.2):
"Arjuna, whose heart was troubled with grief, let fall his
bow and arrows, and sat down on the bench of his chariot...
Every student of occultism, theosophy or true religion — all
being the one thing — will go through Arjuna's experiences.
Attracted by the beauty or other seductive quality, for him,
of this study, he enters upon the prosecution of it, and
soon discovers that he arouses two sets of forces. One of
them consists of all his friends and relations who do not
view life as he does, who are wedded to the "established
order," and think him a fool for devoting any attention to
anything else; while the general mass of his acquaintances
and those whom he meets in the world instinctively array
themselves against one who is thus starting upon a crusade
that begins with his own follies and faults, but must end in
a condemnation of theirs, if only by the force of example.
The other opponents are far more difficult to meet, because
they have their camp and base of action upon the astral and
other hidden planes; they are all his lower tendencies and
faculties, that up to this time have been in the sole
service of material life. By the mere force of moral
gravity, they fly to the other side, where they assist his
living friends and relatives in their struggle against him.
They have more efficiency in producing despondency than
anything else. ...
All of us are brought to this study by our own request made
to our higher self, who is Krishna. Arjuna requested Krishna
to be his charioteer, and to drive him forth between the two
armies. It does not matter whether he now is consciously
aware of having made the request, nor whether it was made as
a specific act, in this life or in many another precedent
was made and it is to be answered at the right time.Some
of us have asked this many times before, in ancient births
of ours in other bodies and other lands; others are making
the request now; but it is more than likely in the case of
those who are spurred on to intense effort and longing to
know the truth, and to strive for unity with God, that they
have put up the petition ages since."