“In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice, there is!”
Whoever said this had obviously practiced the theory, and we all have experienced the gap. Every teacher knows: students learn by doing. Life is our never ending school where we become human by trying to actualize the theory of our own being, by doing, by trying to find meaning and aiming to live a good life.
So, what is the “theory” we seek to comprehend and apply in our life? Is it to love and be loved? Is it to see, welcome and actualize our good intentions to care and do good? Is it a life we would like to be filled with success and achievements, in which things would go according to our plans, our dreams and ambitions, or is it the simple aspiration for happiness?
How does that theory translate into practice? We all experience the hard realities of our “doing”. When our broken relationships, our fears, our unrealistic expectations, or our unmet needs come in the way of a good experience or time. Or at a bigger scale, when we see the reality of our failing social and economic systems in some areas or in some places, close to us or somewhere else on earth. The “practice” of our life is what we endure or suffer, us and all around us, animals, nature, earth… The reality shows our limitations and the imperfections of our translation of the inner light into service and love. Practice is also where the wonders and blessings of our life and existence are given and revealed to us, joy beyond measure, ungraspable moments of bliss.
From theory – the good life and happiness we seek – to practice – outer expressions and realities of our experience – we unfold through our Doing from our Being. We move from contemplation to action, we become and we actively participate in our own becoming and in each other’s becoming. In spiraling movements, we ascend and descend, and we manifest our unique incarnation of the Divine in us, our “theory”, as we are engaged in our “practice”, our life as we experience it. Both movements are important and support one another, their inter-dependency being the motor of a transformation that invites us to give room to the inner force, the knowledge we don’t know we have but that we recognize, and to learn more deeply every time we face its imperfect manifestations.
From theory – that we can grasp in contemplation – we move into practice, our actions. The former is our source, the latter is our apprentice work.
In a time when the supremacy of a “doing” society has contaminated and carried us away with empty actions and accumulations, it is tempting to advocate for the preciousness of simply “being”. We can question what it is – if anything – that we need to “do” in our quest for a good and happy life? We are called to embrace life, with reverence to our own breathing that is the gift of every second of our life given to us, and know that “being” is just wonderfully enough.
But is it really enough? As, what is forgiveness, if merely a word – a theory – that does not change my behaviors, and does not heal myself and the other? What is welcoming of the other, if it is selective and only welcomes the ones that do not threaten my beliefs? What is truth, if I remains hidden, offering a fake intimacy where the other cannot see my true self? What is compassion if it comes from a guarded heart that speaks good words but does not see and hold the suffering of the other?
Being requires doing. Fully “being” takes practice, and whatever we believe of ourselves, we remain prisoners of a prism. Practice is not theory but it reveals it, it offers reminders of our limitations. In practice, we make mistakes, and are reminded how much we need help to be able to offer a pure and unconditional love. Practice is the awakening to our reality, where our own unmet needs, desires, illusions and deceptions, keeping us blind are exposed to light.
Theory is the container that only reveals its treasure through the alchemy of action: our initiatives, attempts, errors, expressed needs, imperfections, our risks of wounds and imperfect love we offer and receive. When we choose to live in and from the universe of theory, we live in the realm of concepts and beliefs, with intentions that keep us safe behind the boundaries of our mind and unexposed heart. If we fool ourselves with theory without ever risking the test of the reality of practice, without daring our yearning for authentic human connection, love, care and presence, we lie to ourselves and to everyone around us.
In humility and with reverence for the dormant beauty of our Being, If we want to be true to its essence, we must act with courage and seek to do good, and practice, again and again, becoming the active apprentice of our own Being. As Life is about practice, this is why we are incarnate: we are practicing and learning. We cannot live wisdom if we don’t live the 2 facets of it, and by doing so, we walk the journey of our transformation into our own destiny.
2019 ©Sylvie Vidaillac