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The Operation of the Individual
and the improvement in effectiveness thereof

(originally written 09.21.2007)

Humanity as a whole has a generally uniform physiological form. This whole of humanity is composed of billions of individuals, and each individual, although it possesses the generally common form known as the body, has their own particular, unique makeup that subtly distinguishes one from the other. Just as each human possesses a generally uniform but simultaneously somewhat unique physical form, so does each individual possess a psyche that is generally uniform but simultaneously unique in various ways. By psyche we mean the totality of unconscious and conscious contents (which are merely a continuum of different degrees) of the individual.

The human being consists then of both a mind – or psyche – and a body, which are inexorably linked. Each person is in a unique circumstance, perceiving the world in the midst of a phenomenal field, and each person’s natural inclination – one might even say their natural duty – is to adapt to harmoniously assimilate these phenomenal occurrences, or experiences. Both physical and psychological adjustment consist of forming an effective, or a right relation with phenomena. Pain signals maladjustment of the body to circumstance and psychological tension signals maladjustment of the psyche to circumstance.

Much of the body automatically adapts to circumstance like the administering of “fight or flight” hormones when confronted with danger, or the reflex to withdraw the hand to withdraw from fire – we call these the instincts. The body has a sort of “intelligence” of its own, for the respiratory, circulatory, digestive, and other systems all normally work harmoniously without the need of conscious intrusion. Even so, the body cannot adapt to all circumstances by virtue of its own natural operations, but the psyche may “intervene” and adapt further.

Operations of the body can affect the mind, and operations of the mind can affect the body. When the body encounters some kind of obstacle, like a bullet wound or a malfunctioning kidney, signals of pain appear to the conscious psyche – the influence of the body on the psyche. In this way, the psyche may determine a new course of action that would remedy this malfunction – one may decide to get out of the line of fire and the other may decide to see a doctor. In this way the mind has adapted the organism to circumstance more effectively than if the body was left to pure instinct – the influence of the psyche on the body. The mind produces thoughts, which may affect the motion of the body, as was seen in the previous two examples where the thought of moving to another place, generated from the appearance of pain, influenced the motion of the body. Because of this, it should be understood that both the body and the mind must be considered as a whole, or at least as two highly interactive facets.

The body may be “trained” to perform its functions more effectively, to adapt to phenomena in a harmonious way. Common examples of this are cardiovascular exercise, the gradual control of bowel movements, the attuning the ear to be able to identify certain musical notes, or learning to form words with the shaping of the mouth. As was mentioned before, each individual is always in a unique circumstance in relation to another and therefore requires different means and methods of operation. Then, the exercise required to be able to climb mountains may be entirely useful, for example, for someone who lives in the Himalayas or enjoys climbing the Alps, but it is of no use to an infant, an astronaut in space, or a homeowner. In fact, it would be a waste of time and energy to do such. From this we can summarize that it is possible to train the body in various ways for more effective adaptation to phenomena, but the particular way we may train the body is unique in that it is in accordance with individual’s specific circumstance.

The same idea is true for the operations of the psyche. One may train the memory to remember facts, the imagination to conceive and organize concepts, the reason to analyze facts with the cold eye of logic, or even willpower itself to overcome obstacles. One important way that the mind may be trained is concentration, which is the confining of awareness to one object to the exclusion of all others.

Just as a faculty of the body will atrophy if left unused, a faculty of the psyche will similarly atrophy from lack of use. It is by the full exercise of one’s physical faculties that one maintains their full potential – it is commonly understood that one needs physical exercise to remain physiologically healthy. In the psyche, the same is true once again. The psyche’s faculties must be constantly exercised to maintain their potential and psychological health in general.

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