The Importance of … Practicality
by Anton Jarrod
In a series of seven articles, I wish to address specifically those individual living beings who are already progressing from the mere realization and simple understanding of the wider reality through the new world disclosure through their own evolving capacities. While individuals at all stages of their development may benefit from the following advice, it is particularly those mentioned who will be in need of all the help that may be offered to them. While the point will be followed up in greater detail, it must be stated here that this particular advice cannot at all constitute the only advice that is either available, useful or good. The individual may and indeed must use all available help, for the progression towards a higher development by its own means and through the assistance of the Higher is enormously difficult. Just as it is unhealthy to rely entirely upon one kind of food for nutrition, so should the individual eat of a broad range of materials if its progress is to be steady and sound.
The articles cannot at all be considered to contain the whole of what it is necessary to consider, for the individual’s development, as will have already been the case, is relatively unique affair. The greater part of the individual’s development depends upon what they themselves discover, and it is not appropriate or useful to stipulate any specific condition or criteria. What will be useful for the individual will ultimately be determined by its specific characteristics and the situation wherein it is living its life, and because of this I am confident that a more general rather than specific advice will reveal itself to be appropriate. However, this is not to suggest that a general advice is superficial, vague or trivial, for where it is firmly grounded in knowledge and understanding of actual principles, it can only assist in the safe and sound discovery of that to which the advice is leading.
As with advice between friends, these articles are somewhat informal and focus mainly on giving practical encouragement. As will become clear, it does not constitute or propose any “system,” but general advice concerning the individual’s own development. The articles focus on seven important aspects or areas, which the being must surely encounter or consider through their growth: practicality, knowledge, principles, conscientiousness, diligence, methodicalness and virtuousness, which are related in different ways, but which are not the only aspects that are important, there being many, many others.
When the living being finds itself to be in the world it must try to foster and then develop a practical relation to it, and all the things in it. By “practical” one means that, relative to one thing or another, one asks, for example, “What shall I do about it?” instead of “What does it mean?” or “Why is it so?” Those other questions are important, and they have their place, but when it comes to development – which is largely a development into the unknown, in certain spheres – they have less relevance. Furthermore, practicality depends and draws on, and requires the development of, knowledge regarding practice and activity; the “know-how.”
One could ask many questions of a practical nature regarding the thing one is faced with, but practicality does not consist solely of questioning. The individual must also consider the manifold possibilities of activity that are open to it or not in the given moment. Indeed, the practically minded individual must also take the matter of questioning practically: “is it practical to ask so many questions in this situation I find myself in?” In many ways, the practical position is oriented in that which already considers “what can be done?” and in which practical questioning is fundamental to its modality.
Even given this small piece of advice, the practically minded individual might start thinking: “how is this useful to me in my current situation?” and “how might I practically deal with a rather important situation in which I find myself these days?”, while one less practically minded might think, “where is the consistency in this line of thought?”; “what does it mean?”; “how can I prove that the practical relation must be fostered if one is to develop”; “what does practicality have to do with development?” and so on. The practical individual is practical in its response to the world, while others might think about practicality itself, or feel something about it.
Naturally, much depends upon situation and circumstances. The advice to be “practical” may seem very limited in that regard, even with reference to the following (indeed, practicality can only be illustrated in a limited way by example and analogy). Yet, the individual themselves may have enough direct experience and understanding to make them useful, which indeed requires a certain amount of the practical competence one is discussing. Practicality, as it pertains to knowledge, methodicalness, diligence etc., will be discussed in more detail in those articles. Here, then, I will simply consider the practical mode in a few general situations.
During development, the individual will encounter the world process in the form of the dynamics of renunciation and will come to experience a certain degree and form of “giving up” in order to “receive,” in those aspects and regards that are being developed. In order to proceed through the movement of that dynamic safely and effectively, the individual will need, amongst other things, a certain practicality. “How do I renounce the thing I am now to renounce?” it must ask. For the practically minded individual, renunciation is never purely or only an intellectual or emotional experience and activity. It is also a question of time, space, objects, other people; a question of social realities, legal realities, technological realities, economic realities. The practical context of renunciation must include the whole reality of the individual in which it finds itself. This practical context, which demands a competent practical aptitude, can make the renunciation actual in different ways than the intellectual and emotional renunciation can.
The developing individual must also eventually consider its own developmental “path,” where the same must ask, “Where is it leading ?” and, “What is required in order to proceed?” It is not at all the case that individuals must extract themselves from society and head to the hills (indeed, if evolution depended on it, nothing but the destruction of civilization would be necessary in order to achieve it, which would ultimately make the said evolution impossible). Nor is it the case that development can only occur in one or another physical locality, institution or community. Again, if this were so, evolution would depend upon the relocation of civilization to those localities and communities, which would result in the destruction of them both, and would not lead to evolution but the contrary. No, the individual must consider its own practical situation: in the current age, it must consider the mundane and everyday realities in which it finds itself, and resolve the specific issues that pertain to it. Doing this, it may resolve and ultimately discover its own path of development, upon which it may proceed in peace.
Of course, being practical requires a certain amount of practical thinking, which may be said to consist of the individual’s drawing on the formless, as yet unarticulated knowledge regarding the object in question. This knowledge comes through experience and depends on, and is in accordance with, the world processes to which the individual has been subjected. The individual may have some knowledge of things like “golf” and “horse riding,” or how to obtain “planning permission” and the like, but the individual will only acquire practical knowledge through the experience of such things, which may cohere with their existing knowledge in different ways and to different degrees. Individuals may already have experience of the ways in which actual processes can differ to expectation; expectations that were derived from knowledge that was only intellectually acquired through such things as books and testimony. Here, practicality can help the individual handle things that are unexpected or are in some other way not in accordance with their previous thinking and beliefs.
Equally important as all these things is the way the individual practically handles itself in one situation or another. It must reflect upon and act in accordance with its own limitations and weaknesses, which, it may realize, are not inconsiderable. For example, it must ask, “What can I practically do?” regarding such thing as its inability to understand certain matters, and then do it (or not); and where it appears that something is expected of it, it must ask, “What can I do to do it? And if I cannot do it, what then must I do?” The practically minded individual would not merely reflect upon the situation it finds itself in, but would determine its inner and outer resources and organize them in a relevant manner.
However the individual or community is resolving to proceed as regards the development of its capacities to enter into the wider reality, it must be practical in many ways. Humanity has already discovered how this is so as it pertains to the development of its ordinary capacities, which indeed must appear as otherworldly to the human being of fifty thousand years ago if those beings were experiencing today (and which, incidentally, they would not have been able to imagine or believe if, in their day, the modern individual went back in time to tell them, for the two realities would be incommensurable, and not only in a communicative way). Humanity’s practical application to the development of its intellectual and tactile abilities, through the development, maintenance and protection of those social, political, economic and educational structures and realities through which the individual can acquire the said development, reveal that the human being can approach its own development in a practical way and can assist with the development of the capacities of the new born individuals coming into society. In many ways, it is the very same approach that will lead individuals and communities into the wider reality from their current reality, which itself was the wider reality in relation to their distant ancestors.