The saying, “practice what you preach” makes for an appealing ideal, or for a good put down. Taking it deeper, the idea becomes a source of internal strife. We are capable of imagining ideal behaviors that are completely out of reach… even to the point of being humanly impossible. Yet, we dream away, expecting ourselves and/or others to live up to the ideals we dream up.
Nevertheless, this saying can still be a very useful reminder of how to reach a less stressful life. The trick here lies in backing away from what you preach to the point just a hair’s width away from where you actually are in your life. In other words, lower your standard to the point where it is easily reachable.
In yoga that comes down to dealing at the edge of your own limits. Doing that requires dropping the puffed up expectations of where you want to be, and return to your root. The difficulty we face in life originates in the walls of expectations we erect for ourselves to climb over. The irony here is that when you climb over, you are back where you began. Lower the wall and step over—moment by moment. Chapter 16 speaks to this more sane way to ‘practice what you preach’.
Devote effort to emptiness, sincerely watch stillness.
Everything ‘out there’ rises up together, and I watch again.
Everything ‘out there’, one and all, return again to their root cause.
Returning to the root cause is called stillness; this means answering to one’s destiny.
Answering to one’s destiny is called the constant; knowing the constant is called honest.
Not knowing the constant, rash actions lead to ominous results.
Knowing the constant allows, allowing therefore impartial,
Impartial therefore whole, whole therefore natural,
Natural therefore the way.
The way therefore long enduring, nearly rising beyond oneself.