WHAT IS MAN? – HUMAN NATURE vs HUMAN BEHAVIOR : “SARVESHAM SVASTIR BHAVATU”
What is Man? The motivation for asking this question comes from a statement expressed in Sanskrit language :
“Sarvesham Svastir Bhavatu”, Shanti Mantra in Sanskrit seeks the well-being of all humans, of all races, of all religions, of all cultures, and of all nations. It promotes finding of Peace, Harmony, and Tranquility in Man’s Living Experience.
Our efforts to support the well-being of Man get affected by our understanding the ‘real’ or ‘true’ nature of Man. I recognize Man’s Existence with Six Forms or Dimensions. These are, 1. the Physical Being described by Human Anatomy, Human Physiology and other Medical Sciences, the human being in health and sickness, 2. the Mental Being, the intellect, thoughts and emotional states of Man described by Psychology and Psychiatry, 3. the Social Being described by Social Sciences, 4. the Moral Being described by Moral Science and Ethics, the power of discernment used by Man to make distinction between good and evil, and right and wrong, 5. the Spiritual Being described by Vital Power, Animating /Sensible Properties, and Conscious/Cognitive abilities of Man’s Corporeal Substance that develops and builds the cells, tissues, and organs of Human Body.
I try to know Spiritual Dimension of Human Nature by observing functional relationships facilitating interactions of cells, tissues, and organs making up the human organism. For Man is Multicellular organism, Human Nature gets reflected in the biotic interactions of cells, tissues, and organs because of whose functions Man lives in the world. While the cells are Independent, Individual entities, their functional activity is characterized by Mutual Assistance, Mutual Cooperation, Mutual Tolerance, and Mutual Subordination to provide benefit to Man. And lastly, Man’s Identity and Individuality establish him as Created Being, one of its own kind, original, unique and distinctive.
These Six Dimensions of Man contribute to six kinds of Behavior of Man; the physical, mental, social, moral, spiritual and creative facets of Behavior. For example, muscle cell displays the behavior of contraction in response to a stimulus; it is able to contract because of its contractile nature which gives it the power of contracting. I account for Spiritual Dimension of Human Nature as that of generating Singular, Harmonious Effect in the working of trillions of cells giving Man power or ability to perform his living functions such as Respiration and display his characteristic Behaviors like Feeding, and Reproduction.
HUMAN BEHAVIOR AND ENVIRONMENT :
B. F. Skinner studied Behavior and the environmental causes of Behavior mediated through conditioning mechanisms. In his opinion, all Behavior is function of environmental variables. He proposes a thesis of ‘Universal Determinism, and thinks that every human event including all human choices has a set of preceding environmental causes.
In Indian tradition, the Bhagavad Gita explains the relation between Human Behavior and Environment or ‘Prakriti’. Chapter XIV, verse 5 states : “Sattvam, rajas, tama iti gunah prakriti sambhavah”, the modes of Human Behavior such as Sattva( the mode of goodness ), Rajas( the mode of passion ), and Tamas( the mode of ignorance ) generated by the interactions between Man and the environment in which he lives. At the same time, Indian tradition makes a very clear distinction between true Human Nature and the three modes of Human Behavior. The real, or true Man is identified by Spiritual attributes of Human Nature.
The Bhagavad Gita in Chapter XVIII, verse 20 claims that all living entities share a single reality even while they are divided into innumerable forms( “Sarva bhutesu yenaikam bhavam avyayam iksate” ) and directs us to recognize that Spiritual Nature as the true reality that is common to different living forms.
Skinner gives attention to the external causes or influences that generate or modify Human Behavior. Skinner avoids the study of Innate or Intrinsic Cause of Behavior. He gives no importance to the role of Heredity in Human Behavior. This internal influence on organism’s behavior is not directly observable and an experimenter cannot manipulate such internal influences to conduct experimental studies of Behavior. Skinner’s findings about external influences and environmental conditioning mechanisms explain several aspects of Human behavior but they do not explain the relationship between Human Behavior and Human Existence. To understand Human Existence, we have to learn about the Nature of Man’s Substance and the Behavior of cells, tissues, and organs which formulate Structure and Functions of Man as a Living Thing.
Man is a very complex living organism showing structural differentiation with functional organization of numerous independent, individual cells, tissues, organs and organ systems. These specialized functions of tissues and organs are possible because of the functional subordination of the cells to the requirements of the organism as a whole. In other words, the specialized functions of tissues and organs could be described as ‘altruistic’ behavior, a behavior that promotes the well-being and appears to favor the individual’s chances of survival and reproduction.
Man may exhibit Behavior under the influence of environment and may act in the Modes of Behavior such as goodness(Sattva), passion(Rajas), or ignorance(Tamas), but his existence is made possible by his Innate Human Nature which as internal or intrinsic guiding influence or controlling mechanism determines the characteristics of biotic interactions between cells, tissues, organs and organ systems of his own body.
Rudra Narasimham Rebbapragada,
- Spiritualism – the Key to Human Nature (bhavanajagat.com)
- Spiritualism and Knowledge of Human Nature (bhavanajagat.com)