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How? versus Why?

May 10, 1997 10:13 AM
by Titus Roth

Listening to a tape by Ann Ree Colton, I heard her say that a whole teaching
gives you the How as much as the Why. It clarified something I have clumsily
tried to verbalize on what is missing from Theosophy. Some scattered
thoughts ...

Realization ultimately comes from sharpening one's intuitions by practice,
application, failure, re-interpretation. It can happen without ever studying
what other seekers have discovered and taught, but it is a much slower process
that way.

Studying the spiritual heritage of the past alone is insufficient and can be
misleading if you do it for egotistical reasons and don't try to apply it with
honesty. But it is a great accelerator of progress when you combine it with
practice. "Be ye not hearers of the Word only, but doers."

Theosophy has too much of the Why of things. There are no practices or
disciplines. With a Why alone, one is not involved. With a How, he or she has
something to bite into and try. One may dogmatize the How or interpret it
rigidly, but that is no reason not to include a How.

The tennis example I gave a while ago illustrates. By actually holding and
moving your racket according to a suggestion gets you in tune with your
body and your style. Once you learn what it feels like to properly connect
with the ball, you can depart from the suggestion and develop your own.

Technology has also isolated us from experience. We have learned the why of
physical laws, but we do not experience Nature as much today. We are more
emotionally insulated, for example, from the seasons and their great lessons
of birth, death and re-birth.

A student who studies a mediocre book, but tries it gains more progress
than one who studies a brilliant one but can't apply it.

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