That which is not gross, tangible or durable is SUBTLE.
- A flower, a fruit are things that can be seen, touched, smelled and tasted. They respond to our tactile senses. We refer to them as objects. They are gross. They exist in what may be termed the gross physical plane.
- A flower smells. A fruit tastes. Smell and taste cannot be touched. They elude our tactile senses.
While the flower and fruit are gross and physical, their smell and tastes are subtle.
- One cannot see ideas. Ideas are in the subtle plane.
For any subject of study, the terms used need to be well-defined. Users must recognize the definitions adopted and conform to that usage. In an incipient subject, such a requirement is even more essential. The subject of Social Development has yet to become an organized body of knowledge, much less a science. Thus, the precise definition of concepts and terms is essential. In law, the word ‘evidence’ acquires a legal precision, though the word itself is common. ‘Operation’ is a common word, but in medicine it is used to denote a surgical operation. ‘Accident’ is used ordinarily in the sense of a car hitting something, but the word itself refers to an event that is unintentional and unexpected.
We normally use the word subtle in the linguistic sense. But an understanding of social development requires a more precise definition.
- An armed crowd of a hundred people is formidable, dangerous. The sight of a single, uniformed policeman can subdue a crowd of people, because his uniform suggests a far more formidable power behind his presence. The power of the uniform is subtle.
- The physical power of an army is real; while the power of a politician is intangible. But when General MacArthur acted contrary to instructions from the White House, he was forced to submit to a Presidential order. The power of the army is real. It acts in the gross physical plane. The power of the Administration is subtle but is far more powerful.
- Ideas, feelings, sentiments, emotions, sensations, power are subtle concepts. A gun, a stick, an object like a chair or pen is a physical object, existing in the gross physical plane.
- Brain is physical, mind is subtle. Nerves are physical, sensations are subtle. Body is physical, its sensations are subtle.
- Values in the physical, vital, mental, spiritual planes are subtle.
- Hitting a man is a physical act; an argument is subtle. We know an argument is often far more effective that a physical attack.
- A room and its furniture are gross physical objects. Its use, elegance are subtle concepts.
Life is a field of production
The invisible plane of life is as much a field of production as the factory that manufactures goods and the land that produces the grain.
It is true hard work pays; hard work is indispensable. For a hungry man, the fine (subtle) fragrance from the kitchen will be enjoyable, but will not meet the requirements of hunger. Matter is a fact. Materials do matter. The policeman’s stick and gunshots do disperse a crowd when all appeals fail. It is the silent words of the judge’s warrant that empowers the policeman. There was a time when the weight of materials such as iron, steel, etc. was considered to be its strength. No longer is it so. Now the lighter the material, the stronger it is.
Is there a theory behind this phenomenon? The loud shouts of the corporal on the field give orders. Those who issue very powerful orders usually do not shout, they speak gently. To speak gently is more difficult, requires more energy, hence its power. It is said that the more information goes into making a material, the stronger and lighter it is.
Mind is a more powerful instrument than the body. Working with the Mind requires far greater amounts of energy than doing physical work. During World War II, hundreds of thousands were dying at the front. Attack from the air or from the ground involved heavy casualties. Espionage information was pouring in about everything behind the battle lines. One such information was about their factory production, their location, etc. One man spotted an information there about a factory producing bearings. It was the only factory in Germany producing bearings. Generals plan attacks on military fortifications, production centers, etc. Mind is an instrument of thinking. To bring two or more facts together in the mind and to ask mind to respond to it is thinking. There was one such thinker in the Allied Army. He understood that, if all bearings are made in one factory, destroying that ONE factory will force all the factories that depend on these bearings to stop production. It was a bright idea. It occurred to him by a few minutes of thought. That invisible idea was equal to destroying all the factories in Germany producing ammunitions.
To us, land is productive, a factory is productive. We do not see a shop in a similar area is equally productive. Do we realise a bank is more productive than land, factory and shop? Today the service sector generates a greater percentage of employment than agriculture or manufacture. Agriculture in the US employs only 3% of the workforce, manufacture about 15%, and the service sector more than 70%. The less tangible (more subtle) service sector has become the main source of wealth and employment.
This is not true only in production. He who reads aloud will never reach the reading speed or efficiency of a silent reader. He who pronounces the words silently in his mind will never read as quickly as one who simply sees the words or sentences without enunciating them even silently, which is the basic technique taught in speed reading courses.
Internet is not in space; it exists in cyberspace (subtle). The efficiency of the Internet is not to be compared to work done manually in physical space.
Bata Shoe company was founded at the beginning of the 20th century in Czechoslovakia and grew to become the largest shoe manufacturer in the world by around 1930. During World War II, the company’s facilities in Czechoslovakia were expropriated by the communist government. The company’s executives fled the country. After the war they met in Toronto and revived the company, even though they had lost its physical base. Within five years, Bata was once again the largest shoe company in the world. The invisible talents of the executives was equivalent in power to the entire company.
Brevity is the soul of wit. To be brief thought must rise in quality. Fine cloth is costlier than coarse cloth.
The subtle is more powerful.
Life plane is more productive
In fact, being subtle, the life plane is more productive.
Whatever Man says to the contrary, Man believes in the material more than the ideal. People feel the university degree is real and concrete, not the content of education. Age-old Greek wisdom admires a sound mind in a sound body, while the biological as well as spiritual truth is it is the soundness of the Mind that determines the health of the body. The Secret is reaching a wider and wider audience making people discover modern miracles in ancient experiences.
Money is a thing everyone readily understands. A man was explaining many ideas of value to a woman and greatly appreciated her receptivity. In the course of his narrative, he happened to illustrate one of his ideals in terms of its Money value. The woman leaned forward, expanded on all sides and exclaimed, “All your ideas are explained clearly, but cast in terms of MONEY, they are crystal clear.”
- The material is concrete.
- The ideal is evanescent.
Still one can look around, review his own experience and inquire whether the invisible subtle life plane is not more productive than the physical material plane. He will discover the life plane is not only more productive but it is often creative.
It is a common grievance of farmers that they toil on the land for months, sometimes a year, to produce a crop. The trader who buys their crop sells it after a short time for a greater profit than they earned during the whole year, often for twice as much. It is true for all products, even in manufacturing, that the retailer and wholesaler make more than the producer. The truth is that production is the physical gross plane. Sales is in the social vital plane of life that is subtle.
A doctor administers medicines to a fever patient and the fever comes down. In a day or two any serious fever is cured, at the most in 5 or 6 days. Go to a sannyasi - ascetic – and ask him to cure the fever. If he is one who is inclined to undertake the task, he asks for a glass of water, chants a mantra, cuts the water with a knife in two directions. Drink the water and fever disappears in no time, sometimes before one puts down the empty glass. One may dismiss it from his scientific mind, but he cannot disregard the fact.
The fact is that the more subtle the force is, the more powerful it is. Science itself is a subtle force of that description. The physical worker labours to move a 500 kg weight by trying to generate an equal force. Science advises him to use a crowbar and accomplish the work by applying only 50 kg of force. Where does the 450 kg of force come from?
Agriculture developed in the rural areas. Trade grew in the cities and developed into commerce together with so many other powers of life such as education, communication, record keeping, documents, registration, etc. Life in the cities is far more powerful and richer than life in the village. Life – social life -- is far more productive than the physical land. Life produces through human relationships which are intangible, subtle.
There is one more plane beyond the subtle life. It is the causal plane. It is creative and yields the results instantaneously. Everyday we witness it but rarely do we interrogate it to understand its source of power.
All phases of development involve a movement
Historically, all phases of development involve a movement from the more gross and more physical to the more subtle and more powerful. 
We say that if agriculture is physical, then by comparison trade is subtle. The movement from a lower to higher plane, e.g. from physical to vital to mental is a movement from the gross to the subtle as is the horizontally extension in any plane.
- Objects such as flowers, food, fruits, etc. are physical. Their taste and smell are subtle extensions in the same plane, i.e. subtle physical.
- Human relationships are vital. The unspoken thoughts in such relationships are unseen, invisible. They are a subtle extension in the same vital plane, i.e. subtle vital.
- Mind is entirely subtle, unless we call the brain gross physical and mind the subtle mental.
- We can also divide thought itself into two parts: the physical thought, that which is articulate in the mind, and the invisible thought which remains unformulated, i.e. subtle mental.
Historically development proceeds from the gross to the subtle plane.
- Work in agriculture is physical. Care and attention to crops are subtle.
- Production in the factory is physical. Cleanliness, orderliness, quality, etc. are subtle.
- The evidence the lawyer submits to the court is physical. The attitude of responsibility he takes is subtle.
- The subject the teacher teaches is physical matter. The interest and enthusiasm he evinces are subtle.
- A shopkeeper sells his physical products. His reputation is subtle.
- The army gives physical ammunition to the soldier. The soldier’s patriotism is subtle.
Every object, quality or idea has a subtle extension.
Development that begins in the gross plane extends to its subtle part. Only when the gross and the subtle parts of a plane are saturated will progress advance to the next higher plane.
- Prosperity of a nation is physical, its culture is subtle.
- Legal courts and police are the physical parts of the legal machinery, while people’s endorsement of law, their faith in its justice, is subtle.
- Tourism has a physical aspect of transportation and lodging, as well as a subtle aspect involving the experience of travel to new and different places and the enjoyment derived from it.
- The coin is physical Money, its power and enjoyment are subtle.
- The army’s vctory is physical. The consequent sense of security it results in is subtle.
- Medicine is physical. Our faith in the doctor is subtle.
All parts have their subtle extension as subtlety is part of existence.
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