Life is characterized by effort at existence. Effort and struggle are directed towards the achieving of an end which is realized as one's ideal and which mostly remains as a future to the reality of the present state of affairs.
Life's struggle has been, at least at its lowest level, for the overcoming of difficulties in the form of hunger and thirst, heat and cold and the fear of death. Man has also been obsessed with a curiosity to know more and more of himself and the world outside, and this urge for knowledge, too, has not reached its limit as yet.
From birth to death, it is a long chain of unending effort to fight the difficulties which seem to be preventing him from being at peace with himself and living in ease, with freedom from fear. He also lives in a perpetual state of anxiety and fear. The uncertainty concerning oneself comes from three sources: Nature; other living beings; and one's own self.
The fear of death can be occasioned by three factors; viz., errors committed by oneself; attacks from others outside; and calamities caused by the wrath of Nature itself. For all these things there is no remedy anywhere, though social laws and governmental systems based on ethical and political structures have been framed by the ingenuity of man. But man-made things have never lasted for long. That which had a beginning did also have an end. He who is born has to die.
Man's longing to exercise power, possess things and enjoy pleasure is ostensibly the hidden aim behind every form of his effort both in his private and public life. But it is surprising that this goal is lost sight of in the process of the struggle, and the struggle itself is deified, in some way or other, the means getting confused with the end.– the mistake of taking the process for the goal. The reason for this persisting error in all activity is the inability on one's part to distinguish between the form and the content of experience.
It is true that man struggles for bread and most of his life is spent in finding ways of earning it. Now, this need to earn one's bread is easily mistaken for the important end to be achieved in life. Unfortunately, the purpose behind earning of bread is quite different, it being a novel type of satisfaction of one's being able to keep one's body and soul together. But, as long as the content is not discovered in the form, life in the world will ever remain a hopeless and unending conflict of conditions and vicissitudes. The significance of this curious difficulty does not come to the surface of man's consciousness, due to which he continues fighting against odds and suffering his life from inception to the grave. The seeking of the meaning implicit in life's processes is philosophy. The working out of philosophy in one's life is the practice of Yoga.
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