The secret of self-improvement is “Contact with people in better society, better environment and better atmosphere “. If you have the Guru – Shishya relationship with a worthy Guru, that problem is mainly solved. That however cannot be good-luck of everyone.
Take as a unit the dealing-region of yourself with your God, guru, wife, life-long friend and so on. Each relationship is a simple unit. Take further a complex unit of yourself with your father’s family, your own family, your relations, your society of friends, your professional brothers, your caste-people, your community people, your locality people, your co-disciples and your co-workers in common cause. There is a great wonderful course that each unit exerts on an individual. The self-preservation instinct is at work. None wants to be thrown out, abandoned and cast to the winds. A man may not care for being moral and virtuous, or for being a religious, but he wants a fullest sympathy of the society and of the immediately surrounding people around. Just study a few cases, of vast changes in different families coming over to reside in a big cosmopolitan city. Customs, habits, prejudices, manners, purdah-importance, jealousy, outlook-narrowness, husband-superiority, stinginess, quarrelsomeness, callousness, bluntness, ruffian-ism, in the heart within – everything change so wonderfully and in no time. The inner pinch of self-interest and self-preservation and the desire of gaining a higher and higher footing is there at full work.
Let therefore the wisest man be extremely careful about his selection of his simple units and complex units. Inspite of the highest boast of intellect and originality, man is after all an apish imitator and a social creature with a gregarian mentality. Man cannot live without some association of some human beings. Group formations and group isolation are only manifestations of human nature. That is natural and even indispensable, for the purpose of self-improvement, spontaneous pleasure and the maximum efficiency and relishfulness of life. The social fear of being thrown out, asocial boycott, is no small remedy to keep everyone straight and obedient to the common collective rules, customs and living ways and beliefs (at least the express ones) of every group.
Take a complex unit. After all the additions and subtraction, that particular units has its positive attributes, say one unit has goodness, morality, virtue and religiousness; another unit has badness, immorality, vice and irreligiousness. Each group unit exerts a certain influence over every individual of a group and tries to pull and conquer the same to be nearer and nearer the central attribute. Everyone likes to be in intimate touch with others of the same ways. Everyone feels at home, ridden of all constraints in one’s own group alone. Everyone gets extremely uneasy and constrained in a foreign environment , and everyone tries to be more or less like the group to which one belongs.
Thus a good unit will turn the worst into worse, the worse into bad, the bad into good, the good into better, the better into best. A bad unit will turn the best into better, the better into good, the good into bad, the bad into worse, the worse into worst. That is why collective degeneration travels many times much faster than individual degeneration.
Good individuals placed in bad units, have most helplessly to be bad. Theses are chains, in which individual links have no strength, and often, the maximum strength of the chain itself, is nothing more than that of the weakest link in the chain. Good man in bad units, have to bad for self defense, and self-preservation. They have to be an indiscernible drop of the same water. Further everyone’s most natural desire to go higher and higher in rank, in one’s society, he wants to stand high with goodness; if in bad one, by badness. He wants to win the general applause ” I am well-known someone ” – egoistic pleasure. No force is as massive as the mass-force. If turned to politics, it may bring independence. If turned to religion, it may bring back universal true religiosity in a few decades. A regularly established automatic special huge machinery works wonders. It is because of the fullest knowledge of the highest efficiency of this machinery working., that religious have stooped to laying down certain rules and customs, for the smooth and efficient running , and maintaining the general efficiency of different groups. This most wonderfully working force , must be prominently before the minds of religious reformers , when they take up any religious rejuvenating work, if solid practicability has to be achieved.