Fear is a pretty primal instinct. We all have it. It is almost always there in its various shades of darkness. We fear our loss of friends, loved ones, status or wealth. We fear loss of face. We definitely fear our own death.
Our natural instinct is to try to insulate ourselves from fear. To build up our comfort zone and a nice cushion. That is our conquest, whether it is the fear of our present discomfort and discontentment or the fear of death itself. In vain that conquest often takes the form of an attempt to conquer nature and the outer world.
That is where the ladder comes in (and the habit of selfishness).
We think if we climb higher we can actually insulate ourselves from fear. If we can work our way up, get promoted, find a better job, make more money or achieve a certain status, then we won't be so vulnerable to fear and states of loss. We won't be so vulnerable to death.
It is our core belief that attaining higher states of existence will free us.
That is a pretty powerful implication. Think about that. Think about it in the context of your own life, our culture. Is it true? Can we climb our way out?
Where is the true fire escape?