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Higher Laws of Human Growth

The concept of “Personality Development“ is well known to all teachers of self-development. But not many among them are aware of the deeper laws that govern the process of this development. In this article a modern Indian yogi brings out with great clarity and insight these higher laws for human growth.

Power of the Person

You see what is happening all around us. The world is one of influence. Part of our energy is used up in the preservation of our own bodies. Beyond that, every particle of our energy is day and night being used in influencing others. Our bodies, our virtues, our intellect, and our spirituality, all these are continuously influencing others; and so, conversely, we are being influenced by them. This is going on all around us. Now, to take a concrete example: a man comes, you know he is very learned, his language is beautiful and he speaks to you by the hour – but he does not make any impression. Another man comes, and he speaks a few words, not well arranged, ungrammatical perhaps; all the same, he makes an immense impression. Many of you have seen that. So it is evident that words alone cannot always produce an impression. Words, even thoughts, contribute only one-third of the influence in making an impression, the man, two-third. What you call the personal magnetism of the man – that is what goes out and impresses you.

Coming to great leaders of mankind, we always find that it was the personality of the man that counted. Now, take all the great authors of the past, the great thinkers. Really speaking, how many thoughts have they thought? Take all the writings that have been left to us by the past leaders of mankind; take each one of their books and appraise them. The real thoughts, new and genuine, that have been thought in this world up to this time, amount to only a handful. Read in their books the thoughts they have left to us. The authors do not appear to be giants to us, and yet we know that they were great giants in their days. What made them so? Not simply the thoughts they thought, neither the books they wrote, not the speeches they made, it was something else that is now gone, that is their personality. As I have already remarked, the personality of the man is two-third, and his intellect, his words, are but one-third. It is the real man, the personality of the man, that runs through us. Our actions are but effects. Actions must come when the man is there; the effect is bound to follow the cause.

The ideal of all education, all training, should be this man-making. But, instead of that, we are always trying to polish up the outside. What use in polishing up the outside when there is no inside? The end and aim of all training is to make the man grow. The man who influences, who throws his magic, as it were, upon his fellow-beings, is a dynamo of power, and when that man is ready, he can do anything and everything he likes: that personality put upon anything will make it work. Now we see that though this is a fact, no physical laws that we know of will explain this. How can we explain it by chemical and physical knowledge? How much of oxygen, hydrogen, carbon – how many molecules in different positions, and how many cells, etc., can explain this mysterious personality? And we still see, it is a fact, and not only that, it is the real man; and it is that man that lives and moves and works, it is that man that influences, moves his fellow-beings and passes out, and his intellect and books and works are but traces left behind. Think of this. Compare the great teachers of religion with the great philosophers. The philosophers scarcely influenced anybody’s inner man, and yet they wrote most marvellous books. The religious teachers, on the other hand, moved countries in their lifetime. The difference was made by personality. In the philosopher it is a faint personality that influences; in the great Prophets it is tremendous. In the former we touch the intellect, in the latter we touch life. In the one case, it is simply a chemical process, putting certain chemical ingredients together which may gradually combine and under proper circumstances bring out a flash of light or may fail. In the other, it is like a torch that goes round quickly, lighting others.

The science of Yoga claims that it has discovered the laws, which develop this personality, and by proper attention to those laws and methods, each one can grow and strengthen his personality. This is one of the great practical things and this is the secret of all education. This has a universal application. In the life of the householder, in the life of the poor, the rich, the man of business, the spiritual man, in everyone’s life, it is a great thing, the strengthening of this personality.

Subtle is the Lord

They are laws, very fine, which are behind the physical laws, as we know. That is to say, there are no such realities as a physical world, a mental world, a spiritual world. Whatever is, is one. Let us say, it is a sort of tapering existence, the thickest part is here, it tapers and becomes finer and finer; the finest is what we call spirit; the grossest, the body. And just as it is here, in the microcosm, it is exactly the same in the macrocosm. This universe of ours is exactly like that; it is the gross external thickness, and it tapers into something finer and finer until it becomes God.

We also know that the greatest power is lodged in the fine, not in the coarse. We see a man take up a huge weight, we see his muscles swell, and all over his body we see signs of exertion, and we think the muscles are powerful things. But it is the thin thread-like things, the nerves, which bring power to the muscles; the moment one of these threads is cut off from reaching the muscles, they are not able to work at all. These tiny nerves bring the power from something finer still – thought, and so on. So, it is the fine that is really the seat of power. Of course we can see the movements in the gross; but when fine movements take place, we cannot see them. When a gross thing moves, we catch it, and thus we naturally identify movement with things which are gross. But all the power is really in the fine. We do not see any movement in the fine, perhaps because the movement is so intense that we cannot perceive it. But if by any science, any investigation, we are helped to get hold of these finer forces which are the cause of the expression, the expression itself will be under control. There is a little bubble coming from the bottom of a lake; we do not see it coming all the time, we see it only when it bursts on the surface; so, we can perceive thoughts only after they develop a great deal, or after they become actions.

We constantly complain that we have no control over our actions, over our thoughts. But how can we have it? If we can get control over the fine movements, if we can get hold of thought at the root, before it has become thought, before it has become action, then it would be possible for us to control the whole. Now, if there is a method by which we can analyse, investigate, understand and finally grapple with those finer powers, the finer causes, then alone is it possible to have control over ourselves, and the man who has control over his own mind, assuredly will have control over every other mind. That is why purity and morality have been always the object of religion; a pure, moral man has control of himself. And all minds are the same, different parts of one Mind. He who knows one lump of clay has known all the clay in the universe. He who knows and controls his own mind knows the secret of every mind and has power over every mind.

The Path of Accelerated Evolution

Each man in his childhood runs through the stages through which his race has come up; only the race took thousands of years to do it, while the child takes a few years. The child is first the old savage man – and he crushes a butterfly under his feet. The child is at first like the primitive ancestors of his race. As he grows, he passes through different stages until he reaches the development of his race. Only he does it swiftly and quickly. Now, take the whole of humanity as a race, or take the whole of the animal creation, man and the lower animals, as one whole. There is an end towards which the whole is moving. Let us call it perfection. Some men and women are born who anticipate the whole progress of mankind. Instead of waiting and being reborn over and over again for ages until the whole human race has attained to that perfection, they, as it were, rush through them in a few short years of their life. And we know that we can hasten these processes, if we be true to ourselves.

If a number of men, without any culture, be left to live upon an island, and are given barely enough food, clothing and shelter, they will gradually go on and on, evolving higher and higher stages of civilisation. We know also, that this growth can be hastened by additional means. We help the growth of trees, do we not? Left to nature they would have grown, only they would have taken a longer time; we help them to grow in a shorter time than they would otherwise have taken. We are doing all the time the same thing, hastening the growth of things by artificial means. Why cannot we hasten the growth of man? We can do that as a race. Why are teachers sent to other countries? Because by these means we can hasten the growth of races. Now, can we not hasten the growth of individuals? We can. Can we put a limit to the hastening? We cannot say how much a man can grow in one life. You have no reason to say that this much a man can do and no more. Circumstances can hasten him wonderfully. Can there be any limit then, till you come to perfection? So, what comes of it? That a perfect man, that is to say, the type that is to come of this race, perhaps millions of years hence, that man, can come today.

All great Incarnations and Prophets are such men; they reached perfection in this one life. We have had such men at all periods of the world’s history and at all times. Quite recently there was such a man who lived the life of the whole human race and reached the end – even in this life. Even this hastening of the growth must be under laws. Suppose we can investigate these laws and understand their secrets and apply them to our own needs; it follows that we grow. We hasten our growth, we hasten our development, and we become perfect, even in this life. This is the higher part of our life, and the science of the study of mind and its powers has this perfection as its real end.

The utility of this science is to bring out the perfect man, and not let him wait and wait for ages, just a plaything in the hands of the physical world, like a log of drift-wood carried from wave to wave and tossing about in the ocean. This science wants you to be strong, to take the work in your own hand, instead of leaving it in the hands of nature, and get beyond this little life.

– Swami Vivekananda


People: The Ultimate Bottomline

This recognition of the importance of “people-factor” dawning on the new age manager is not a eureka of rocket science; it is simple common sense which every manager knows instinctively but mostly ignores in practice. However, if the corporate leaders want to realize fully the human potential in their organizations they have to pay priority attention to those parts of the human consciousness which can lead to the highest human well being, fulfillment and creativity.

“People are our greatest assets” – How many times we have heard this statement in management-speak and thought? But, whatever may be the lofty ideas floated in HRD circles, for all practical purposes, the modern corporate mind views the employee as a more or less dispensable knowledge-skill engine for enhancing productivity. When the cost of the human factor begins to pinch into the bottom-line, even a little, than all the benign slogans on the ‘people-factor’ are thrown aside and a ruthless pragmatism takes over. As Wayne F. Cascio, professor of Management at University of Colorado points out: “Unfortunately, when confronted with the need to reduce costs, many of the same executives who tout people as their ‘greatest asset’ see those assets ripe opportunities for cutting cost.” Corporate world cannot fully realize its full human potential as long as it looks at human beings in such a narrowly pragmatic angle. The old management paradigm viewed the employee as a pair of hands. And the new paradigm looks at the employee as a mind or living computer which can generate ideas. But there is not much change in the essential attitude which remains predominantly pragmatic. To be pragmatic is necessary and legitimate in business. But there is a higher pragmatism which in the long-term can lead to better results.

This higher pragmatism views human being not as a “resource” to be managed or knowledge, skill and productivity engine created to fill the coffers of the organization and its deadline or bottomline. The human organism is a complex living entity with a sacred essence, created for a higher purpose. Most of wisdom-tradition of the world agree that this purpose is a progressive unfolding of the human potential, culminating in fully blossomed flowers of humanity.

The need for developing the human potential is now recognized in management but with an eye on the bottom-line and the conception of human potential is a little narrow. As we have said earlier, the new management paradigm views employees as a source of knowledge, skill and ideas or in other words as a thinking and pragmatic mind and will which can generate or innovate ideas and implement or execute them. These are undoubtedly important faculties or potentialities of human beings especially for a pragmatic institution like business. But they are not the whole of human being or exhaust the entire range of human potential.

There is in everyone of us an ideal, ethical and aesthetic intelligence with an inborn sensitivity to higher values like truth, beauty and goodness; an intuitive intelligence with a more direct access to knowledge than the rational mind; a subliminal mentality with a much greater capacity for knowledge, feeling and action than our surface consciousness tethered to our body. Beyond or behind all these lies many layers of spiritual consciousness which hold the key to our highest perfection and fulfillment. The higher pragmatism which we have mentioned earlier will make a conscious effort to make people aware of these superior ranges of consciousness within them and help them to express their greater potentialities in their work-life. If and when we are able to do this, it will have two results: first of all it will considerably enhance the pragmatic effectiveness of the individual and organization in terms of efficiency, productivity, innovation or knowledge; secondly it will lead to a qualitatively superior corporate life infused with the values and ideals of our higher ethical, aesthetic and spiritual nature.

The key to this integral self-actualization lies in the Science of Yoga or to be more specific a system of education, training and development based on the principles of yoga. In this yogic approach the main emphasis will be on the process of human flowering and its self-expression in life and not on its results on the bottomline. If we are able to create the right environment, systems and the process which can trigger and sustain this integral human flowering, then the results in the bottom line is bound to follow, like the tree from the seed.


Is Nature She or It

Nature sings her most exquisite songs to those who love her. She does not unfold her secrets to those who come only to gratify their desire of analysis, to gather facts, but to those who see in her manifold phenomena suggestions of lofty, delicate sentiment.

– Helen Keller

The modern environmental movement needs a radical rethinking on the nature of Nature. The crucial question is: Is Nature She or It?

One of the major causes of the present critical environmental condition is the lack of reverence or sensitivity to the living beauty and divinity of Nature. This in turn is the result of a flawed conception of Nature as the inanimate storehouse of resources and a misguided humanism that looks at Nature as something which exists solely for fulfilling the needs, desires or greeds of human beings. As the Brazilian environmentalist, Lutzenberger points out: “The anthropocentric world-view westerner inherited – has allowed our technocrats and bureaucrats and most simple people too, to look at Planet Earth as if it were no more than free unlimited resources to be used, consumed and wasted for even our most absurd or stupid whims. We have no respect for creation.” The future of environmentalism requires a critical re-examination of this modern conception of Nature.

In the traditional scientific paradigm Nature is “It”. In the conception of physical sciences Nature is essentially an inanimate material energy and consciousness is an “epiphenomenon”, emerging from physical nature but not inherent in Nature. The life-sciences consider Nature as a complex living organism. Some of the philosophical speculations spun around New Physics and the Deep Ecology movement admit the possibility of a consciousness or a living intelligence within Nature. But even these more intuitive conceptions in scientific and environmental thought are hesitant to radically question the traditional scientific conception of Nature. However there are a few eminent scientific thinkers who are bold enough to question the crass materialism of orthodox science. For example, Max Planck, a Nobel Laureate in science and a pioneer of Quantum Physics, states:

“As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear-headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as the result of my research about the atoms, this much-there is no matter as such! All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particles of an atom to vibration and holds this minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent Mind. This Mind is the matrix of all matter.”

Here comes the importance of some of the spiritual conception of Nature perceived by ancient seers. In this conception Nature is not merely an “It” but a living She, a Universal Consciousness, Power and Wisdom. And Man is part of Nature not only physically but also psychologically and spiritually. In the scientific conception, Nature is something which cannot respond to human aspiration and which has to be “saved” by human interventions. But the spiritual paradigm views Nature as someone who can respond consciously to human aspiration, prayer and action, who doesn’t need human beings to save her. Nature can save herself and save us if we respond positively to her purpose and intentions. Global warming is in fact a warning of Nature, to stop the self-destructive path we are taking and change course. If we respond positively to the warning in all the levels of our being, in our thought, feeling, will and action, with insight, prayer, love and action, Nature will respond to our aspirations. She will restore the balance and heal the damage we have wrought on her body.

This issue is dedicated to our universal Mother. The main objective of this issue is to provide a glimpse of the intuitive, inward, aesthetic and spiritual perceptions of Nature which reach beyond the scientific understanding of ecology. This doesn’t mean rejections of science or the present forms of environmental activism. Our environmental concerns, sensitivities or actions will become more living, creative and effective if it is further illumined by a deeper and more integral understanding of Nature and animated by a sacred feeling for the divinity of Nature. Our environmental actions should not be a mere dry duty to an inanimate It driven by fear of survival but a loving service to a divine She inspired by a sacred and enlightened devotion.


Step Back

Self Management – The Right Attitude to Work and Life

Nothing can be managed without first managing our own self. In modern management self-management means mainly management of the outer work-environment of the individual like for example time-management. In the Indian thought self-management means managing of our inner self. However, recent trends in management thought is veering towards this Indian concept of self-management. In an integral perspective both may be included in the ideal of self-management. But management of the inner self is or has to be the foundation for managing the outer environment. For, someone who cannot manage himself cannot manage others or the outer environment. Considering the crucial importance of this subject, we have started a regular section, which provides practical guidance on self-management. By the word “practical” we mean not only methods and practices but also a clear understanding of the basic principles of self-management and taking the right inner attitudes to life, work and action.

The first step towards self-mastery is to step back from the surface reactions and responses. It is the process of actively & consciously going within, whenever one find himself too much in the surface consciousness. In this article Mother explains how to do it.

Most of you live on the surface of your being, exposed to the touch of external influences. You live almost projected, as it were, outside your own body, and when you meet some unpleasant being similarly projected you get upset. The whole trouble arises out of your not being accustomed to stepping back. You must always step back into yourself – learn to go deep within – step back and you will be safe. Do not lend yourself to the superficial forces which move in the outside world. Even if you are in a hurry to do something, step back for a while and you will discover to your surprise how much sooner and with what greater success your work can be done. If someone is angry with you, do not be caught in his vibrations but simply step back and his anger, finding no support or response, will vanish. Always keep your peace, resist all temptation to lose it. Never decide anything without stepping back, never speak a word without stepping back, never throw yourself into action without stepping back. All that belongs to the ordinary world is impermanent and fugitive, so there is nothing in it worth getting upset about. What is lasting, eternal, immortal and infinite – that indeed is worth having, worth conquering, worth possessing. It is Divine Light, Divine Love, Divine Life – it is also Supreme Peace, Perfect Joy and All-Mastery upon earth with the Complete Manifestation as the crowning. When you get the sense of the relativity of things, then whatever happens you can step back and look; you can remain quiet and call on the Divine Force and wait for an answer. Then you will know exactly what to do. Remember, therefore, that you cannot receive the answer before you are very peaceful. Practise that inner peace, make at least a small beginning and go on in your practice until it becomes a habit with you.

The Mother, Sri Aurobindo Ashram