THE GIFT OF ADAPTABILITY
Every cycle has a beginning. Every act of living requires a release of energy to break through the inertia of the past. There are human beings whose main function is to initiate action, to start cycles unfolding, to release the kind of power that enables new ideas and new plans to manifest in the consciousness of men. These men who can see ahead and push ahead with Promethean vision and compassion belong to the "adventive" type of men, the Aries type. The zodiacal sign of early spring, Aries, is indeed the hieroglyph of all Advents, of all Annunciations.
To such a type of men, and to every individual who feels within him surging the impetuosity and the power of initiative leadership which Aries symbolizes, the spirit has a gift to offer, most precious among all gifts: the power of adaptability. It is a fundamental gift because all new departures in order to be successful must be adapted to the conditions of life in which they occur and, as well, to the essential purpose directing and giving meaning to the initiatory act.
Without the ability to adapt there can be no fulfilled organic existence; neither can there be any spiritual results, for the latter imply that something has been accomplished which met a vital need, and no need can be filled by behavior not adjusted to the conditions which brought forth the need. The planter animal unable to adapt itself to its environment is condemned to rapid extinction. The individual person who likewise cannot fit into the surrounding social conditions, either by adjusting itself to them happily or by establishing firmly a significant attitude of protest and rebellion against them - such a person must experience sooner or later a physical, psychological or moral breakdown. In solidly structured societies, or where a Christian humanitarian attitude actually prevails, the chances of a complete breakdown of personality are relatively small, but in the realm of vegetable and animal nature the power of adaptation is a matter of life or death.
This power manifests in many strange ways, the strangest perhaps being the ability for an organism to camouflage itself, that is, the ability to live unnoticed in a basically hostile environment. As all environments are potentially hostile, especially to the organism which in its, response to life represents a finer state of sensitiveness this ability to be inconspicuous and not to attract attention is in many cases an absolute requirement for survival. Thus we see insects painting themselves in the colors of their surroundings or modifying their forms to blend with the familiar shapes of twigs and leaves; we find animals changing the color of their fur or skin according to seasons, or, as the chameleon, able to harmonize swiftly with the shades of nearby groups of objects.
Do we not preach also: "In Rome, do as the Romans do"? Is not the ability to be at ease in any environment a proof of excellent social manners, and one which modern education increasingly stresses? And do we not hear, in accounts of the lives of those men who embody a finer and wider response to spiritual values - the true mystics and occultists - that they usually seek to attract as little attention as possible, so as to be let free to cultivate their supernormal psychological characteristics?
In many cases, the individual ahead of the evolutionary state of the average person of his day needs indeed to have recourse to deliberate "camouflage". He "covers his tracks" while he travels; he performs useful social functions, perhaps of the humblest nature, behind which, as it were, he lives his truly significant life. In other cases, however, there is no such effort at being inconspicuous. And this is. so particularly where the individual has a creative message to bring forth, when he is of the "genius" type; in which case he resembles the kind of biological organism - tree or animal - which achieves perpetuation against all odds through either the prodigious abundance of its seed - which allows for a vast margin of waste - or by giving this seed a very remarkable power of survival.
Humanity as a whole does behave like any other species of life. It protects itself by means of very complex mechanisms of compensation. Where the birth-rate is very high, wars and epidemics are frequent - or else birth-control becomes popular. Where the number of births declines, medical discoveries and hygiene help nearly every infant to live and prolong the life-expectancy. After wars, the majority of the children are born males - and when the possibility of accidents increases, or savage warfare maims millions, surgery makes wonderful strides. Indeed man learns to rebuild what man had first destroyed; thus, knowledge and consciousness develop in the typical human manner - through suffering and disharmony.
This is what we have called up to this day: civilization. He alone survives who, either can adapt himself to strain and external danger or pressure, or else is able to bring forth a socially significant or world-transforming "seed", thus fulfilling the need - at first, mostly subconscious - of his race, his culture, and, broadly speaking, humanity.
In this latter case the individual person acts as an instrumentality for the spirit. He survives as a person - even if survival entails severe tribulations! - because that personality is a vehicle required by the spirit for the fulfillment of humanity's need. He is saved by "God", because "God" needs him as a transformer and releaser of new Images and new social impulses.
Spirit, as I use the term in this book, is the active outpouring of that which is wholeness, harmony, absolute equilibrium. Spirit is the power whose character it is to seek forever to re-establish harmony and functional balance wherever these have been disturbed; and this power must thus operate wherever there are "wholes" - which means, everywhere. Spirit is that which must always attempt to fill all zones of emptiness, to bring together and integrate through an adequate structure the polarities of being which had drifted apart. In its most deeply and vitally experienced aspect, spirit is the answer to all human needs. It flows toward every human being who has need of it, as electricity flows from higher to lower potential, as wind rushes from zones of greater pressure to zones of relative emptiness, as water seeks to reach a common level.
Thus, spirit is to be experienced always where the need is greatest. It must be sought where the mind and the heart have known to their utmost the torment of emptiness, the crucifixion of despair - yet also where the mind and the heart have refused defeat and hopelessness, have kept active and expectant through the deepest agony; for nothing that is of the spirit can happen to the man who does not believe in the possibility of it happening. Faith alone can open the empty vase of personality to the influx of that which emanates from the absolute Fullness - this Fullness which man, failing to grasp its infinity, hides from his blinded vision under the many names of God.
Faith is like an act of conscious breathing. Why breathe? Why the effort to expand the chest and open lungs to something that cannot be seen? Yet, there is air; and without opening lungs to its inrush, there can be no biological living. There is likewise spirit; and without acts of faith and of deep psychic inhalation, there can be no spiritual life in integrity, in selfhood and in truth.
Every human type, simply by the very fact that, as a type, it stresses a particular creative function, tends inevitably to demonstrate an equally basic need. And to every human type spirit seeks to bring a gift according to this basic need - a gift that is meant to fill the emptiness produced by the type's characteristic emphasis.
Twelve gifts of the spirit can thus be seen to balance the twelve essential traits which define the make-up of the twelve zodiacal types of men. They are the healing virtues which alone can restore functional balance and harmony in the corresponding types of men. They are the blessings for which man should ever pray, and in faith open his whole being to their inflow; for only he who asks shall receive. Spirit is everywhere. The fullness of God is everywhere. Yet no man can be filled who keeps his gates rightly shut, his conscious mind cramped in egoism, pride or fear. Spirit can only press from everywhere upon that man - and the pressure must ultimately kill him who refuses to be healed and made whole.
The twelve great gifts of the spirit to be described in this book are for every individual to receive and to use; because every individual is potentially a complete zodiac, a sphere of living wholeness within which the central Sun forever radiates in all directions. Yet the individual attracts to his being only that of which he has a vital need. To a person in whom the "Aries" type of activity is strongly accentuated, the spirit will bring mainly" the gift which can fill the need caused, in this person, by the constant performance of this type of activity. But man as a mature individual is a concentrate of all powers. And as the use of each power produces the very condition which calls forth the corresponding gift of the spirit, to each individual spirit proffers a multitude of gifts, according to his multitudinous need - if there is in this person faith and openness to the gift.
To live in faith is to live in wholeness and harmony. It is to release the fullness within, while welcoming gratefully into one's emptiness the abundance of divine being, the healing spirit. Then, inward and outward tides are balanced. God reaches into the heart of man, as man reaches to the place and the work that are his by inherent destiny. There is no exhaustion and no disease, no lack and no congestion. The dynamic process of world-existence operates in and through the individualized consciousness in harmonic strength, beauty and creativeness. Every moment and every act is fulfilled in peace, and man grows forever into the immortality of always more inclusive levels of being, from fulfillment to fulfillment, from everlasting to everlasting.
Such a person can dare at times to take great risk, because whatever in him is of value to the spirit will be protected. Because he is identified with his spiritual "seed" - his power to fecundate humanity toward a new birth of the spirit - he will survive, however tragic the survival. Yet this represents a relatively unusual possibility; and even here we can speak of adaptability of a sort, for the genius and the leader must strangely adapt themselves to the requirements of their "destiny" and of their public.
As the Aries type of person is, above all, an individual who releases into acts (most often in a spontaneous manner) instinctual impulses or spiritual ideas, he is usually very poor in the usual kind of adaptability. He exists predominantly in what he lets out of himself. He is not essentially interested in retaining for himself any part of the energy, biological or spiritual, which he released; but neither does he care very much about the end-results of the release. He identifies himself with fecundative acts. He lives in the act itself rather than in or for the fruits of this act. If he seems selfish, it is not because he seeks to accumulate benefits for an uncertainly realized self, or to exact a price from those those contacts; it is simply that what matters most to him is to be able to act again and again - just for the sake of releasing some "seed", be it life-seed or spirit-seed. He may go to extremes of apparent selfishness in order to gain, retain or increase this ability to act and to fecundate; but he will do so as one who is merely the releaser of some power over which he has no control and which he often does not even particularly care to understand.
For this reason his normal reaction to the problem of adaptability is that, as long as he does his part in releasing the life-seed or the spirit-seed, it is up to "Life" or to "God" to take care of the rest, and, thus, to protect him. This cooperation with the spirit very often works; nevertheless it allows for a great deal of waste and of usually avoidable suffering. As long as the Aries type operates at the biological or the entirely unconscious level, this may not mean much, for physical nature is indeed prodigal of seed. But when the realm of the individualized and conscious person is reached, Aries' need for adaptability becomes of great consequence, for conscious individuals who can act as releasers of new spiritual Images are as yet too rare to be recklessly expendable. They therefore must learn to adapt themselves; thus, to protect their spiritual seed and to direct their creative impulses and activities into socially acceptable channels, or channels which mean the least possible amount of friction and waste of power.
This type of social adaptation, however, should not be such as to divert or muddy the flow of the release of power. It should not alter the quality of the projected Images, or cloud the vision they convey. Thus, the truly creative Aries person is constantly confronted with the necessity of accepting the kind of adaptations which save from waste or permanent personal injury, while rejecting those which mean compromise and adulteration of seed.
This is a difficult task of discrimination! To be adaptable, yet to retain the purity and total integrity of one's vision and one's ideal; to accept detours, yet not lose the direction of the goal; to be understandable and acceptable to those who need the spiritual arousal, yet not distort or lower the character of the message; to use the values born of the past, yet not sell short the future to the uncertain present; to be kind to men, yet uncompromisingly true to the spirit - such are the problems which the creative Aries person will constantly meet, in one form or another.
The line of least resistance for his temperament will be to stress directness of release regardless of cost or results; but the spirit within him will offer him a gift he should not fail to accept: the gift of adaptability. Ultimately he must come to realize that his activity, if it is to be true to the law of spirit, must be conditioned by compassion rather than by the sheer joy of creative release. He must learn to act not only from some vaguely sensed spiritual source, but as the spirit; thus, always in answer to a need. And so to act means obviously to consider the results of an action as supremely important.
The act must be adapted to the need, if it is a spirit-conditioned act. It must have a character of inherent necessity and it must meet necessary conditions. To be truly compassionate is to adapt oneself to the necessary conditions of one's environment, while pouring forth what the environment calls forth from one's fullness of being. It is to learn to live with those who asked to be stirred, led or fecundated; and this implies above all to accept their problems and their frustrations, even as these place barriers and peculiar conditions around one's creative release.
To take in careful consideration the results of one's acts upon those who call forth those acts is not enough. The power of adaptability is not to be applied only in relation to the recipients of the creative energy or the spiritual vision; it should also refer to the creator's relationship to the source of that energy - to life, or to the spirit. This means that whoever finds himself acting according to the patterns characteristic of the Aries type should not "take for granted" that life or spirit will be available to satisfy his desire for action and creative release. He should, on the contrary, learn as fully as he can the nature of life or spirit, and the laws of their operation. He should learn to be a trustable manager of life-energy and spirit-power. He should account for his seed, and use it wisely according to the cyclic character of the moment.
Both life and spirit operate rhythmically. Rhythm is the first attribute of the universal creative Power. The impulsive and initiative type of individual has much to learn when it comes to proper timing and proper accentuation. His tendency is to be spasmodic, tense, uncontrolled; or to waste his power in long stretches of activity without regard for the necessary pauses of cyclic recuperation.
In short, he who acts in the way of Aries must learn to adapt his releases to the natural rhythm of biological and spiritual ebbs and flow, as well as to the character of the human need which these releases strive to satisfy. He should not only act, but act the part which is his by right of destiny, and his performance should follow the cues presented to him by the other actors of the play. It must be an "organic" performance, enacted in the name of the whole and not merely for the un-rhythmic or wasteful release of the energy stored in only one part, organ or function of this whole.
The individual who is consecrated and true to the spirit acts as the spirit, in terms of human needs. Turning toward humanity or toward those few it is his privilege to serve, the man of initiative will say: "Your need be filled". And, bowing reverently and gratefully to the source whence comes all creative power, he will add: "Thy rhythm will lead me". Performing thus the acts of the spirit, carrying forth the dynamic purpose of life, the individual will know fulfillment and harmony. He will know it as the cyclic linking of God and of man within the creative act. He will know it as the lightning knows the earth, as the wind feels the sea, as light experiences the worlds it stirs out of space.