Optimists find in the epoch of changes important advantages by claiming that such times bring in more possibilities for the development and evolution due to more degrees of freedom. Scientists tend to link it with the conscious resistance to entropy and call this process a "syntropy".
Let’s take a look at the process of syntropy in its psychological sense and link it with such a quality or state which manifests itself as readiness.
At the beginning, let’s consider a scientific approach to this notion.
First of all, readiness is a potential capability to react. In the context of ordinary (i.e. predictable, envisaged) situation, readiness means almost automatic reaction which is developed in numerous repetitions and using practical skills. Readiness may even be implemented through the use of automated processes, sensors, instructions, training procedures. In the context of unusual (i.e. unpredictable, unexpected) situation another mechanism is being brought into operation. What, in this case, is helping us? These are our life experience, our mistakes, and our intuition. Psychological key to our ability to react is our predisposition to act in the direction of minimum resistance (predisposition to already fixed responses).
What we understand in this case under "reaction"? These are our mental, emotional, physical actions. From this point of view, "reaction" entails personal reference.
Then, readiness is a mobilization capacity which is a capability to collect, accumulate personal forces, to direct them at achieving certain results. In different people, the level of this quality is different. And in such a situation, a motivation component is playing a major role which may bring in two opposite results:
- it can block the mobilization;
- it can foster the mobilization.
For instance, the threat to one’s personal life can paralyze a person and further aggravate the existing situation. On the other hand, concern for the life of a close person can result in increased and multiplied forces thus helping to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
Just another example – when a debutante speaker is presenting his/her first speech to an audience. It may lead to a dread of developing distorted personal image which can paralyze the speaker and he/she would forget notes or words. On the contrary, the sense of responsibility for the teacher or the willingness to defend the team’s honor can multiply forces and lead to success.
It is a very optimistic fact that readiness can be developed and, even more, the need for such a development is a part of inner human nature. Let's take a look at such a factor of our life as the risk. Despite our personal attitude to this factor, we have to admit that the risk is not only an induced part and parcel of our life but also an emotional experience desired by many of us. Suffice it to mention games, alpinism, windsurfing and other kinds of sport. Many heroic deeds and crimes are associated with deliberate and intentional risk.
When a person or circumstances of his/her destiny (which are the same from the theosophical point of view) prompt him/her to train his/her readiness, to test his/her ability to become mobilized, to perfect his/her capabilities to react – all these make him/her stronger (physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually), and at a certain stage he/she begins to enjoy it. That's why we know catchphrases and in certain situations we pronounce some of them, such as follows:
· "You should love difficulties because by overcoming them you are improving yourself "
· "God bless the obstacles"
· "Be glad of having difficulties because there is a special wisdom revealed to you along with them"
Many acute, critical situations are described in Mahatmas Letters dating back to the first decade of the Theosophical Society. In addition, the Letters contain also several indirect indications that these situations were provoked by Teachers themselves to evoke hidden potential in people. Many people whose intentions were defective, selfish and personality-centered and who acted for mercenary motives left the TS with resentment and indignation. Others whose intentions were more honest and lofty, to the contrary, were getting closer and became effective TS members.
Life experience permanently provide us with an opportunity to witness that people can evoke their most powerful capacities when they are acting unselfishly, for the sake of a lofty goal, motivated by noble causes.
What factors contribute to the development of our readiness? The most evident are listed below:
§ Life experience, especially peak events and emotional experience, dramatic and extreme experience;
§ Recognition of invisible causes hidden behind visible effects as well as defining of mechanisms of process development;
§ Becoming aware of your own responsibility, both external and internal;
§ Ambitions and strive for success;
§ Prior thinking over the sequences of your steps and possible ways to achieve the desired result.
What factors impede the development of our readiness? Our readiness is hampered primarily by the following factors:
§ Passive or alienated attitude towards the task or responsibility undertaken;
§ Indifference to the outside world, to oneself, and an introversion;
§ Carelessness, thoughtlessness which we sometimes call "trust to chance";
§ Lack of prior thoughtful plan of actions;
§ Lack of experience.
What are potential consequences of a lack of or inadequate readiness? These are well known to all of us:
§ Irrelevant reaction, efforts made in a wrong way;
§ Mistake, excess or lack of efforts;
§ Our mental/psychological functioning does not meet the requirements in certain situation.
So, from the scientific point of view the readiness can be defined as follows:
1. Virtue of subject to be capable to implement necessary functions/tasks in the specified situation, at the specified moment of time and on condition that necessary external resources are available.
2. State of physiological and psychological preparedness when the subject is getting ready to act or react.
Let's try to expand this definition by looking at this issue from the theosophical point of view. The sacred part of the Theosophy Teaching is known to be the concept of the discipleship. This concept relates to person's readiness to establish direct mental contact with Teachers of Wisdom who are the great souls and who are regulating the evolution processes on our planet and are accepting certain selected representatives of the humankind for training them to become their apprentices, assistants and collaborators. Stage of direct discipleship is preceded by preparation step which we call the path for probation or the path for aspiring person. Are there any guidelines for improving the quality of readiness in somebody who began a journey towards the spiritual growth? Yes, there are. And here, in answering this question, the majority of spiritual traditions are amazingly unanimous.
1. First of all, it is the capability to change his/her own lifestyle, habits and predilections, to refine his/her ability to react emotionally, to purify his/her own way of thinking.
Readiness to change oneself is one of the greatest value for an apprentice; it requires the will, consistency, diligence. "The kingdom of God needs to be taken by force" – this is a motto of Christian mystics which is fully actual for an aspiring person.
2. One of the essential qualities of disciple's readiness is his/her capability to conceive new ideas which means his/her mental openness. This quality is based on deep inner conviction that the truth currently revealed to him/her is relative. The dogmatism, fanaticism, freezing of knowledge limit the growth and hinder the development of new understanding. This, of course, does not relate to the issue of safeguarding his/her own moral principles which also requires certain readiness of the apprentice.
3. Readiness to follow advises of the Teacher. The Teacher always thoroughly strives to preserve free will of the disciple and just suggests him/her one or another option for the behavior or problem solution leaving the final decision up to the disciple. However, the capability to cooperate with the Divine Plan allows the disciple to be an efficient collaborator and always trust Teacher’s advises even if their rational is not always understandable. The Mahatmas Letters contain a great number of examples to this end. This represents a big challenge for aspiring persons coming from the Western world because of their overconfidence and arrogance. That is how the Teacher expressed this idea in his answer to one of the candidates for discipleship: "Before accepting a candidate as a disciple, adept will undoubtedly instruct him to leave his family, property and position, to put on rags and follow him to the thicket. Is there any British theosophist who is ready for that?" This question is still relevant when addressed to other people also, not only to British theosophists.
4. Readiness to learn a lesson from past experience is an important quality of a disciple. This is especially true when experience was negative, when the pre-planed result has not been achieved. Usual reaction in such cases includes excusing his/her actions and searching for external causes or circumstances of failure, and putting blame on other participants of the event. For a disciple, it is very important to resist the temptation to follow this way, and it is essential to try to objectively re-think his/her own behavior and to re-play retrospectively other options for his/her behavior and their possible results. Such an approach is much more constructive and can significantly enhance person's capability to identify better strategy for future actions.
I would like also to remind, that the very idea of the creation of Theosophical Society initiated by one of Adepts and approved at the highest levels of the Great Brotherhood was aimed at checking the readiness of the humankind to conceive the new understanding of the world and, based on such a new understanding, to build the foundation for a new civilization.
To conclude, I may state that person's readiness, when it is purified from influence of his/her egoism, becomes a real Goodwill and is induced to action by its highest spiritual component – Atman or Will-to-Good.
Readiness should not be identified as a constant state of effort and expectation of various troubles and threats which leads to chronic stress. Quite the opposite. The highest level of the readiness is practically identical to the state of release or liberation in Buddhism. It means freedom from everything inferior which puts a burden and weakens man's forces and will. It means acquiring the ability to unite with the blessed force of the Nature and to become an assistant to the Divine Plan. It means perfecting person's ability to integrate into the sanctioned by the highest Planetary Spirits evolution process the capacities of your own personality accumulated during centuries – energy powers, professional, mental and physical potential; it means to integrate them into this process consciously, unselfishly, effectively.
In Soviet times, the members of Young Pioneer Organization used a motto: "Be Ready!" with the reply: "Always Ready!" This slogan is very wise in the context of the development and formation of person's identity. We, the theosophists, are also pioneers in our joint efforts: we are helping the mankind to build new roads; however, each of us also is paving his/her own unbeaten personal life road.
That is why we would like to wish you all and each of us: Be Ready!