Enslaved Condition of Man of the World
The man of the world is acutely aware of his enslaved condition. His consciousness is harnessed to the physical body and he is encaged in a material universe. In such circumstances he can experience only an obscure fragment of the divine consciousness, of which he is is an integral part and on which he is ultimately dependent. Owing to the myriad cravings which encase his soul, he can never experience true self-sufficiency. All his values are in terms of material results; and all his actions are directed towards these objectives.
Limitations of Gross Consciousness
But each material achievement is fraught with a sense of insecurity, and for one object of craving obtained, there are a million others which man does not and cannot capture. Each partial fulfillment and even the pleasure of achievement is not unmixed, since it is invariably clouded by the fear of losing what has been temporarily secured. But in spite of the haunting sense of insecurity and the suffering of repeated frustrations, man continues to cling to the world of matter. The joy, power and knowledge, which are his spiritual birthright, he glimpses only in the most paltry and momentary measure. His life is a story of pain and conflict, with scanty light or peace, torn as he is between the opposites of cheap success and dismal failure. Many of his ups and downs and his spiritual lessons he learns very slowly. Enshrouded in m any self-imposed veils, which he is unable to penetrate, he stumbles blindly through life.
Realm of Action
But in spite of its inevitable pain and sorrow, life in the world of matter is an unavoidable phase in the progress of the soul, since it provides the field for action. Action is the expression and therefore an accentuation of the mental and emotional impressions by which it is impelled. At the same time, other driving tendencies, which happen to be incompatible with the momentary actions, are withheld. Action is, therefore, the most powerful agency through with discrimination is raised in the course of choosing and adjusting many claims upon consciousness. Action also serves the purpose of linking together, in the world, a large number of individual souls, through the innumerable karmic ties which arise out of past service and bondage, since the material world offers the necessary environment for mutual interdependence and inter-change.
Collective Action in the Web of the Material World
Though these karmic ties entrap the soul in a complex web, such interweaving of individual souls facilitates collective life and collective search, with all its opportunities for love, sacrifice, service and mutual help. Through the negative lessons of hate and malice, as well as through the positive lessons of love and service, the individual soul finds itself compelled to participate in a collective effort to realize the unity of all life. Its action is continually invaded by the life-currents from other individuals to cast out entirely the illusion of separateness. Thus, in spite of its attendant suffering, experience in the material realm of action is not without its compensating value; it constitutes a necessary transitional phase.
From enmeshment in the material realm of action, the soul must, however, eventually ascend to the realm of energy, by unloading from itself the myriad cravings which chain its consciousness to the dense world of matter. Even during the period of immersion in