XAT Essay Topic 3: Overcoming desires or overcoming enemies – What’s more important to you?

I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies, for the hardest victory is over self.” – Aristotle. We started living is a group due to the obvious benefits of such living. However, that did not reduce the number of enemies of man. Man faced struggle on the outside as well as inside himself. Both the fights being important, it is of great significance to understand exactly what should be given a priority – desires within a man or enemies external to man.

Overcoming Enemies –

1. Just like we see many people who succeed by overcoming desires, there are also many who give into desires as well as become successful. The reason being they overcome their enemies.

2. A person in complete control of oneself will not necessarily be successful as he may not be able to overcome his enemies. These are two different things.

3. If to win and succeed one need to overcome his/her enemies, then there is no alternative. Self-control might hone skill and give an edge over your enemy and help you but will never substitute the fact that only by overcoming your enemy you succeed.

4. Just because overcoming desires is much more difficult, that doesn’t mean that it is much more important. Conquering desire is a personal choice. Conquering enemies may not be. We may have time to conquer our desires but this is not true of our enemies. In society if we do not act, others will act and benefit. It is important for survival.

5. As per many philosophers, desire can be considered as enemy of man. If this is true, then overcoming desire is nothing but overcoming enemy. Thus, in today’s world, overcoming enemies takes priority.

Overcoming Desires –

1. Desires bring in distraction from true aim.

2. A person in complete control of his/her senses is the one who will reach true enlightenment. Success follows such people.

3. Even if someone doesn’t want to take the spiritual path, still overcoming one’s desires will help achieve the aim and goal which one has decided upon. There would be no distraction.

4. When facing yourself, you must bring a level of honesty and integrity that is very admirable, and difficult. Doing the difficult thing is laudable in itself.

5. A person who doesn’t know himself and is not able to control himself can never win over his enemies.

6. The root causes of negative external manifestations of acts or thoughts of humans are his desires. There is no end to desires. One desire leads to other. Thus, while an external enemy is finite and can be defeated, the real challenge is in defeating our internal enemy of desires which is endless and infinite.

7. Overcoming enemies is said to be important for survival. However, unless we conquer ourselves we might self-destruct.

8. Also, our desire manifests in the real world through our actions, thoughts and behavior. This can harm us as well as our surroundings. Society is endangered by such people who have no control over desires.

9. Many a times, people appoint and give power to selected few so as to run the nation. If the selected few do not overcome their desires, they would be serving self-interest and not public interest. Thus not conquering desires is fatal for many around us. Not conquering enemy might just affect an individual.

10. Ethics, morals, values, etc. teach right and wrong. These are nothing but ways to control oneself and our behaviour. Controlling oneself means controlling desires. Just imagine how the society would have been with no ethics and morals and people free to do as per their will and desires.

11. And at last we all know that desires make enemies. Thus overcoming desires is the most important thing.

Buddha lived even before Aristotle. In very easy language we can understand the Four Noble Truths given by Buddha – Life is suffering; the cause of Suffering is Desire; this Suffering can be ended; the path to end the Suffering is the Eight Fold Path. Here we see that be it the west or the east, the same philosophical ideas are mirrored. Both focus on self-victory. It is extremely important to be in control of oneself and be able to control oneself as per will – that is the real victory.