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Human-management — the Key to Social Health

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Society and human relationships can be a source of stress to an individual, just as it can be a source of support and succour. Unlike the animal who is called upon to adapt against other species and his external environment, man is often in the stress of conflict within his own kind. Grouping and association can on the one hand safeguard from external pressures and threats — economic, physical and environmental. On the other hand, it can generate enough stress through pressure to perform and conform to the group-needs, especially when they are at variance with the individual’s needs. These social ‘pathologies’ may or may not show themselves as physical illnesses, but they may corrode human life and retard its growth and evolution. While physical illnesses and disorders can affect at most a few individuals at a time, social maladies can sometimes affect an entire nation or even lead to the precipice of disaster and destruction of the entire human race. Hence the necessity to understand the dynamics of group-life and its role in human growth, progress, health, and well-being.

Group life and self management

Human-management is essentially an extension of self-management as both these need a harmonisation of the diverse, often conflicting and contradictory tendencies in our being. The more successful we are in recognising and harmonising the inner complexity of our own life, the more likely we are to understand and to some extent even work out our harmony with those around us. The reason for this is simple enough. Each individual in a group represents predominantly a certain aspect or trend of the universal nature. Equally, each individual tends to see in others a projection of his own hidden nature. A man of goodwill often sees trust and goodwill in others while a man of fear and suspicion often finds in others a perpetual cause of mistrust. What is even more interesting is that often our inner state induces a like response in others, if that element is present in them.

It is important to understand this complexity of human nature so as to avoid many misunderstandings and unnecessary conflicts. The same person may react differently to different human beings depending upon the part of his or her nature that comes to the forefront. Our judgments of others are often based upon our limited experience of dealing with them, and are often coloured by our own projection of ourselves onto them. One could well say that even the best person has hidden in himself the possibility of error and evil which can spring up as a surprise and ambush the healthy parts of his nature. So too even the worst man hides in himself something beautiful or divine that waits for its discovery.

Secret of human management

The secret of human-management therefore lies in bringing out and forward that which is the highest, noblest and best in others. This naturally cannot be done consciously if we have not discovered and brought forward the highest, noblest and best in ourselves. Only like recognises like, and only like can attract its own like. The more we discover our own inner beauty and truth, the more we are likely to discover the beauty and truth in others. What we mistakenly do instead is to struggle against darkness in others with our own ignorance and darkness. To struggle against darkness with darkness is only to magnify it. What one needs is to bring in a drop of light. To encourage and develop the healthy and positive aspect of life is a better remedy for dissolving social pathologies than to exclusively focus on discouraging the unhealthy and negative elements. The darkness often dissolves under the pressure of a growing light.

Who am I?

Man is a complexity. We try to oversimplify and reduce things to a moral right or wrong, a simple good and bad, but in the reality of experience and facts of practical psychology it is not so. Each of us holds in ourselves diverse elements of all shades, the dark as much as the bright. Often when endowed with a great possibility, we have in us as a frontage the very negation of that possibility. We, however, are carried away by the frontal appearance of human beings, and there, too, we see what we are accustomed to habitually encounter in ourselves. Only we do not call it by that name. What we call in ourselves self-respect is seen as arrogance in another; our need is another’s desire; our love is another person’s lust; our humility is another man’s weakness and submission; our forgiveness is another’s cowardice; our perfection is another’s rigidity. But in truth others are simply a mirror held before us where we see nothing but our own reflection.

This means that we see only one side of human beings. We fail to see another, perhaps the more luminous and brighter side, simply because we have not yet seen that in ourselves. It is said, and rightly so, that one who has met his soul can see it in the other too. Naturally, since a large and incidentally, the best part of our nature is hidden from our eyes, we ourselves live and work as limited entities. A simple observation reveals that what we habitually call ourselves is nothing more than a confused or haphazardly arranged mass of sensations, information, reactions, desires, impulses, suggestions driven by a few ideas and emotions. To this pell-mell thing we give the name of ourselves and somehow try to relate it with the world. And what do we find there? — the same disorder.

Another dimension of management

This of course is the truth of the surface life of man. So long as we choose to accept this as the sole truth, all our reactions to others proceed from this position. We assume in our ignorance that others too are like us, mere physical frames, slaves of habits and nervous sensations. To motivate people, we give them money as reward and punish the body for an act that the mind has planned and life has committed. Or we attribute to others false motives throwing our fear and suspicion on to others. And once we have succeeded in corrupting man’s consciousness, we say, we have proved the theory. Once we set the ball rolling the game is played on our terms, since the mass of humanity is equally unaware of a deeper, larger and higher self.

Yet, if we so choose, we could reverse the balance, change the scales by removing the false measures. When the terms of our understanding, the conditions determined by our psychological state changes, the game changes too. We begin to see in others a concealed possibility of which they are themselves not aware. We see behind the mask of terror the immanent birth of a god. Not only can we see it and feel it by an inner sense, but we can equally have the joy of assisting its delivery, for it is a great mistake to believe that character is something fixed and can never be changed. In fact much of our evaluation of character is itself very wrong. Often, we notice merely outer habits of response which are nothing more than a nervous conditioning.

Another error is our own conditioning when we study characters in terms of moral values. Thus, we may erroneously regard all who drink as debauched, and all who take drugs as junkies. At the other extreme, too, we equally fallaciously conclude that all who visit religious places or observe penances are good people. We forget the lesson in that a thousand years of penance in Ravana created only a gigantic ego, whereas a thrice married Arjuna was favoured and privileged to receive the Gita.

For our values are other than they truly are. We see a reflection distorted by nature and not the real thing. Another difficulty that comes is that our judgment of persons and events is not sensational and ethical, but emotional. We have certain preferences, something to which we are habitually attached, say for instance a thing as minor as vegetarianism. Now, in the totality of man this is a minor issue. But we may be emotional enthusiasts and proponents of vegetarianism, and we may instantly start liking another vegetarian even if he indulges in horrors that would mortify the flesh.

The list of such nervous-emotional attachments is long. At one extreme it may be food-fads, attachment to place of birth, language and dress; at another it may be attachment to those known and related to us closely or associated in a common work or cause. In a slightly humorous vein one may recall Birbal’s witty answer to the emperor when he was asked who is the most beautiful person in the kingdom – “One’s own child, O emperor, is the most beautiful in the world.”

We find, therefore, that our judgment of things and people is largely distorted by our own imperfection. Added to this is the error introduced by the ego-sense which sees itself at the centre of the universe. ‘I am the best’ we believe. ‘I am the reference point’, we think. All that conforms to my thought, my way of living, with my opinion or that feeds the fuel of my desire, is necessarily the best. All that is different, contrary, opposite is certainly wrong or a fictitious myth. All that is outside the range of my experience has to be false; it cannot be true. At the best we tolerate these contraries, at worst we forcefully suppress or try to eliminate them.

It is little wonder then that things go wrong and misunderstandings arise. Rather, it is a wonder that in spite of all our distortions and prejudices, preferences and prejudgements, love and friendship and sacrifice and sympathy still thrive and grow. If nothing else, this is a sign that man is not just what we believe him to be. He is something more. If a hardened criminal can love even one human being, if a weakling can show even one moment of courage, we can say that the doors of possibility cannot be shut. Irrespective of our dealings and experience of the person, there is a truth in him. If I am not able to bring it out, it is my limitation as much as it may be his. It is frequently observed that great leaders truly worth their names were much more inspirers than dictators. Their lives, their examples called men to exceed themselves. Their influence helped men to open to their own deeper possibilities. Svarat (self-possessed), they went on to become Samrat (world-possessed). Even after they cast off the limited frame of their bodies, their consciousness continued to uplift human life to vistas beyond our mortal ken. What made this huge difference possible was the fact that they lived and acted from their own highest self.

This then is the fundamental truth of all human-management — to be and live and act from the summit of one’s consciousness. Even if we have glimpsed it for a brief moment in our lives, we must try to deal with others by relating and referring to that. Naturally this summit will be different for different people. In a rare individual two or three or more summits may be fused and harmonised in the truth from which all other truths derive. Such an action and relation with the world is only possible in a background of a large impersonality and a vast universality supporting the consciousness. For in the stillness of the mind, the ray of intuition can shine; in the calm and untroubled waters of our emotions, the true feelings can reflect themselves; in a life untroubled by desires, the omnipotent’s will can decisively act; and in a body peaceful and well-poised can arrive the sense of the beautiful in every contact.

We may thus end as we started, but with a more positive turn — we help the highest to emerge in the world by being in the highest summit of ourselves. We help the world become perfect in proportion as we perfect ourselves. It is by changing ourselves from within that we help the world change.