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  December 10, 1977

Man is clumsy in his original makeup. Civilised life requires orderly appearance. Man functions as he is, as he feels. Feelings are unstable, erratic, unpresentable. Having come into civilised life, he realises that he should not present himself as he is but should make his presentation agreeable. His feelings (vital) are incapable of accepting a formula and guiding themselves on that basis. Only his mind can do that. Man begins to teach his mind how he should present himself and tries to keep his vital under control of his mind. This is on the merest surface of his living when he presents himself to others in society or to himself in his self-estimation. All the time he knows he is what he really is, i.e., a turbulent animal, but he succeeds in presenting himself as someone capable of good speech, good conduct, good behaviour. Most men in society who are known to be good or who believe themselves to be good are of this kind. When weighty affairs come for consideration this outer behaviour is seldom relied upon. People put aside this presentation and look for material support for their reliance. We often hear people say about men who are known to be good "He may be good, but these are matters of family, property, etc. It is better not to rely on the man but on the situation". They are right and that is the core of the matter. This much for behaviour.

Man begins to receive the essence of his outer behaviour into his thought system and take guidance from that system. Behaviour is compartmental, superficial. Character is central and deep. What one learns from character serves as guidance at all points of behaviour. The components of character in mind are intelligence, will; in the heart patience, attachment, commitment; in the nerves (vital) enthusiasm, energy, interest; and in the physical endurance, adaptation, capacity for hard work.

If a man is possessed of ideas, energy and capacity for hard work we say he is dynamic. The vital must be able to fulfill what the mind understands. If a man has good ideas and no capacity for implementation, we say he is a professor, an armchair planner. He does not accomplish much in life. Character is primarily a mental endowment though we speak of an emotional character, nervous character, etc. Character is an organisation of the mind which is powerful enough to command the loyalty of the vital energy. Character is of many colours, viz ethical character, moral character, social character according as the content in the person. I am limiting my consideration to the area where character is endowed with a capacity of accomplishment which is the WILL part of the character. The knowledge part of character makes a man resourceful in ideas, the conscience part of character makes him reliable (integrity, honesty, etc.), the emotional part of it makes him affectionate (In national personalities this part brings in what is known as charisma), and the vital part makes him expansive. For our purposes the WILL part that accomplishes will now do and whatever other parts go with it just now will suffice.

As character is of the mind, it shares the territory of the mind. Mind is the highest part of man but not the best one. Mind in its composition is limited, narrow and rigid and therefore relates to what is rigid, organised, fixed outside. Inside man there is the fixed mind and free spirit; outside him is the fixed organised society and the untapped opportunities outside the society. Society is what has been organised over the centuries and therefore rigid. For the society to accept a new idea, a new institution or an innovation it takes a long time. As a matter of fact, only when the idea or institution or innovation loses its freshness and vigour will the society accept it readily. Mind in man is related to the society outside. As there is a free BEING in man of which his mind, heart and body are parts, outside there is the wide world of which the organised society is only a part. Men of character are great instruments, but instruments of the society. They can achieve what the society has already approved but won't venture beyond the realm of society. They are better than the ordinary rubble and the meaningless 'polite' social man who can never contemplate achieving anything. It requires a lot to establish a shop or a school or an institution even when the society approves it. However commendable this aspect is, this is not what concerns us just now.

To initiate something new, new to the society in which one is born and lives, this character is insufficient. If something fresh is to be accomplished the initiative should come from a fresh centre of the person. This centre is more than the mind. Mind is one, though the highest part, of the being. The being is composed of mind, heart and body but is more than all the three put together. The spirit, Atma, is a far greater entity and the being is a smaller version of it. In the being all the capacities of mind (which go to make up character) are found but are there in their original pure form, whereas in the mind the same endowments are a social version, e.g. honesty in the mind is honesty in the eyes of society and when the man is in another country he does not find the same strength of honest scruples restraining him. In the being honesty is honesty pure and simple, not necessarily in relation to anything. To be honest for society's sake or in the eyes of the society is different from being honest for honesty's sake. The first is of the mind and the second is of the being. Personality is of the being. Its ingredients are pure, absolute, valued in themselves. He who is centred there can rise to any height. Nothing is too much for him. He does not need to copy another. He can initiate. Only that he must understand. What he understands he can take interest in. He need not wait for outside approval. His own understanding is enough for approval and accomplishment. My own experience is that all those who are interested in themselves can develop their personalities if they so choose. Barring those who are ill-developed, this capacity is available in most men. What India needs now is to create personalities in the large majority of its population (which is possible) and develop it to its required national height. That would be the development of national consciousness.

story | by Dr. Radut