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In the human family, owing to the presence within the human physical form of a thinking entity, called by us the Soul, the procedure followed in order to produce conscious control is that of adaptation. All forms in the three lower subhuman kingdoms are also subjected to the process of adaptation, but that is a group adaptation to environment, whereas in humanity we have the adaptation of the individual to his environment. The person who works consciously and intelligently at adapting himself to that situation and those conditions in which he finds himself is relatively rare. Conscious adapting of oneself to circumstances is the result of evolutionary development. The stages by which man arrives at this capacity may be enumerated as follows:

  1. That unconscious adaptation to his environment of the man who is primarily an unintelligent animal. Low grade savages are in this class, and many purely agricultural peasants who have not been subjected to modern education. The man at this stage is little better than an animal and is governed entirely by instinct.

  1. An unconscious adaptation to environment carried on by the man who is beginning to evidence some faint flickers of mental perception. This is partly instinctual and is based on a growing self-love. There is more of the "I" consciousness in him, and rather less of group instinctual awareness. You find this growing self-realisation in the low grade slum dwellers, for instance, and in the petty criminal who is instinctual enough and bright enough to live by his wits and to show quickness in reactions and deftness manually. It is the stage of animal cunning.

  1. A conscious and purely selfish adapting of oneself to the environment. In these cases, the man is definitely aware of his motives; they are consciously thought out and recognised, and the man makes "the best of his circumstances". He forces himself to live as far as possible harmoniously in his surroundings. In this there is really good motive, but principally the man is governed by a desire for comfort—physical, emotional and mental—to such a degree that he will discipline himself into such a condition that he fits wherever he may be and can get on with anyone.

  1. From this stage on the differentiations become so numerous that they are difficult to follow, being mixtures of pure selfishness, of a growing recognition of the group, of an awakening realisation of the right of other people to a similar degree of comfort and harmony, and of a steady effort to adapt conditions of character and personality life, so that the purely selfish interests do no real damage to others.

  1. The average really good man who is struggling to adapt himself to his surroundings, to his group relations and responsibilities in such a way that some measure of love can be seen. I refer not here to that instinctual love for family and children and herd which men share in common with the animals and which often breaks down when the loved individuals assert themselves. The tie is not strong enough to hold, and the motive is too selfish to resist the pull. I refer to that motivated love which recognises the rights of others and consciously strives to adapt itself to those recognised rights whilst tenaciously holding on to the rights of the personality.

  1. Then we have the work of adaptation as carried on by the aspirants of the world who are theoretically convinced of their group relation, of its paramount importance, and of the need of every personality to develop its powers to the fullest capacity in order to bring real value to the group and to serve adequately the group need. In true esotericism, there is no such motive as "killing the personality", or of disciplining it to such an extent that it becomes a dead thing. The true motive is to train the threefold lower nature, the integrated personality, to the highest demonstration of its powers, latent or developing, in order that those powers may be brought to the helping of the group need, and the personality of the aspirant may be integrated into the group. Thereby the group life is enriched, the group potency is increased, and the group consciousness is enhanced.


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