The Enlightened One—the Buddha, who walked this earth in Kali Yuga, a little over 2500 year ago, uttered the above words. It is indeed difficult to be born as a human being. Even in terms of evolution, it has taken man many millions of years to appear on earth. Theosophy teaches that man has neither risen from savagery to civilization nor descended from the ape. Man is a "fallen angel"—an unfolding god. Man became man in form but not in mind, Amanasa, only at the end of three-and-a-half Rounds. Then it was that Manasaputras or the "Mind-born Sons of Brahma," lit up the Manas, making man a thinker. This happened a little over 18 million years ago. During the infancy of mankind, man was so close to the Divine that he felt in himself a sense of solidarity and oneness with the rest. As man became more and more animalized and materialistic, the "Eternal Verities" burnt into the mind of infant humanity by the Manasaputras, faded away. Today, only a few of these truths remain as innate ideas.
Therefore, even after becoming man, he behaves like a beast, as his thinking is warped with selfishness. Hence, it is said that it is difficult to live the life of a man. This is especially so in Kali Yuga. We use our free will only for self-aggrandizement.
The great difference between man and animal is that animals act according to their nature or Svabhava. For instance, a dove is always dovelike and cannot behave like a tiger. On the other hand, man, endowed with self-consciousness and apperception can look both within and without and use his free will, overriding the natural instinct. He has taken evolution in his own hands, checked by his Karma. He can either go forward or regress.
He is unfolding god and has the potentiality of becoming greater than the highest Dhyan Chohan. Man is a god in an animal body. As he strives onwards in his evolutionary path, after many lives he contacts the True Law. Of those who thus strive to live the Law, perhaps one becomes enlightened.
Whatever is sought after by every human being in life, is called "Purushartha" in Sanskrit. Whatever one may seek, there are four things that everyone desires. They are, as given by the ancients and explained by the Tamil saint Valluvar—some 2000 years ago—Dharma, Artha, Kama, Moksha.
Dharma has many meanings but is usually taken to mean duty, i.e., duty to parents, to the Teacher, to the guests, to the family, to the community, to the country, to the race and to humanity. "Dharma" is derived from the root Dhru, meaning to hold, to sustain harmony. What is it that sustains harmony in the universe? It is Satyam, Truth. This harmony is derived from realizing that there is no such thing as separateness and that unity of everything in the universe is a fact. From the idea of unity, comes the desire to treat all as friends and help fellowmen to relieve their suffering. It manifests as universal love and compassion to all that lives and breathes and total eradication of selfishness. As we grow in understanding, our Dharma also grows.
The best stage to learn and understand the full implications of Dharma is the "Brahmacharya" stage, the first of the four stages or Ashramas in one's life. The other three are: Grihastha— Householder; Vanaprastha—preparation for Renunciation; and Sanyasa—Renunciation. Having understood what real Dharma means, one can exemplify it in the householder stage. That is why the ancients gave great importance and value to the Ideal of the Grihastha—"Home-Builder." By applying the principles of Dharma, he keeps aloft the dignity and sacredness of home and marriage. It is the stage where one has to fulfil one's family duties to parents, to teachers, to spouse and children, to nation and race.
The article "Living the Higher Life" (U.L.T. Pamphlet No. 34, p. 4) points out:
In this process, we inherit both the good and bad characteristics—of family, nation and race. By exemplifying Dharma in one's life and by cultivating nobler qualities we not only get rid of the defects—family, national and racial—in us, but also elevate the character of the nation and race.
All these can be used as a means for the performance of Dharma. The philosophy involved will also enable us to underswtand the great importance attached to the householder's life.
Artha is a Sanskrit word, meaning possessions. Sri Krishna says:
One of the four classes of men who worship Krishna is the "Artharthi"—those who desire possessions. Why does one desire possessions? Some say it gives one a kind of security—emotional, economic and social. Possessions take different forms: liquid assets, stocks, real estate, relationships, a home, name, fame, position and power. All such things inflate one's ego and therefore may seem to provide some "ego-security." Each one may seek various forms of security. Thus, desire for possessions is common to all.
(To be concluded)