There comes a point in one's journey where it becomes unwise to simply be a collector of esoteric facts. One must apply what one knows, inside and out. One must develop a balance between Knowledge, Being, and Doing.
To obtain knowledge, one must first discover where it can be found. And this is a very risky proposition. Actual knowledge is not easily found because we have no basis for judging it. One man may say one thing, and another may say the exact opposite, yet both are equally plausible and convincing. How is one to know? A man may spend his entire life following particular teachings and arrive at nothing in the end. Even then, it is uncertain whether it was the man who simply failed to apply the knowledge or if the knowledge itself was flawed.
The criteria, therefore, must be measured by something objective, and this, too, is exceptionally difficult because we tend to fantasize about and overestimate our abilities to protect our precious ego.
And so, the first step on a personal development journey must be to acquire the discipline to be brutally honest with oneself. And this means being honest about knowing what you KNOW, being what you ARE, and doing what you DO. And this, of course, requires honest and objective SELF STUDY.
The self-study we speak of here requires a unique separation between "I" and "It," meaning that one should study oneself as a scientist would study a new species he has discovered. What does it eat? What are its habits? What does it like? What does it dislike? How does it sit? How does it move? What noises does it make? What is honest about it? What is dishonest about it? etc... The point is to develop the ability to see yourself objectively or as an "it" and make an honest accounting of what you observe.
Now, this is important: Do not CHANGE anything. Once you begin practicing this self-observation, you may find many habits and behaviors that make you blush. Do not CHANGE anything. Just observe and try harder to see yourself as "it." Think; a scientist would not interfere with the behavior of a species he's studying simply because he didn't like the behavior.
How to Begin
It takes many years of practice to see oneself as one is in one's entirety. Therefore, it's best to begin with small things. Over the next five weeks, try as often as possible to observe the following aspects of yourself - one aspect per week:
Tones of Voice
For example, observe yourself when you're standing, sitting, laying down, etc... Again, don't change anything - just observe. You may be surprised to discover how few postures you have in your repertoire and how often you assume specific postures.
You should practice observing each of the five manifestations above for at least a week. After you have done so, you may begin to combine two at a time and then three or more. The value of this exercise cannot be overstated. Avoid the temptation to rush the process because by doing so, you will rob yourself of the benefits you will only appreciate much later in your journey.
Again, to emphasize the difference between Knowledge, Being, and Doing, it must be stated that you should either resolve to do this exercise or not do it. Simply learning about the exercise and fantasizing or pretending to understand the value will only deepen your delusion that you are a 'being' who can 'do.'
Once you have made up your mind, you must refuse to go back on your resolution for at least five weeks. Even if you resolve not to do this exercise, you must wait five weeks before deciding to attempt it again. This is the beginning of the discipline, which is the mother of real will.
Being and Doing
Knowledge not put into practice is dead and leads to fantasies about oneself. Knowledge put into practice becomes understanding which is founded in truth. One cannot know what one knows until it has been put to use by doing what one does. An increase in knowledge should always be followed up by an increase in what one does with it, which will elevate one's level of being.