Four Aims of Life
Some time in one’s life the question arises “What am I doing here?” meaning why am I alive? Doing this job? Living here? This often occurs during a cataclysmic event such as a death of a loved one, a sudden intense responsibility such as birth of a child, a sudden loss of employment or at the end of a romantic relationship. This inquiry can simply arise at the time of leaving a childhood home to embark on one’s own personal adventures in life and even during long periods of repetitious living. Yoga has written texts on this very topic to help one move forward in healthful, peaceful ways, giving light to find the most successful steps available to you at this time.
Some simple yet profound guidelines can be found in the threads of the four aims of life. They are:
- Dharma (Ethical duty)
Rooted in the realm of parental domain, care giver examples and verbal initiations
- Artha (Safety & Security)
Rooted in the foundation of congenital health and social support.
- Kama (pleasure & affirmation)
Rooted in awakening and awareness expansion of independent (Jiva) self.
- Moksha (liberation & Peace)
Rooted in the perception of witnessing and experience of perceived peace.
Dharma (Ethical duty)
Environment Dharma – The Dharma or ethical duty beyond the body extends from each person into his or her present and eminent environment. Each individual manages events, responsibilities and commitments called in accordance to one’s own culture, given or elected status, and/or career brand. This dharma follows through to dependents such as children, non-working adults in one’s care and to limited degrees staff and contract workers. HOW one goes about fulfilling this Dharma is far greater than the destination of simply completing tasks for their own sake alone.
Environmental Dharma from birth to adult independence, is largely influenced by external environment factors such as parents, siblings, care givers, education, access to local amenities and exposure to life’s diversity. The essential external preoccupation fluctuates to even mindedness and on to internally dominated Dharma and back and forth. An independent Dharma is to be a sign of mastery not decline or isolation and is a time of reflection to assimilate needs for change and improvement. During times of intense environmental change this Dharma is called in varying degrees to be a predominant factor in daily life.
Physical Dharma – Dharma or ethical duty for the self is caring for one’s own body. This process includes cleansing the body, eating ethically, proper breathing (a part of purification), and exercising to one’s capacity, daily. Every human body is partly comprised of movers and levers powered by muscles and will; we are designed to be in motion. Those with partial or full paralysis, as well as individuals who are bed ridden require range of motion movement to stimulate the proprioceptors and synaptic nerve functions of the peripheral and central nervous system of the body. May the spirit of each living being burn as beautifully and brightly for the magnificent magic of its present power.
Emotional Dharma – Emotional Dharma is honoring one’s process of energy in relation to events, self response and time for reviewing and processing the value and meaning of both.
Energy is often a reflection of unity or disparity in what has been seen and one’s ability to emulate it. Energy needs and expression naturally will shift if one has out done the reference of a teacher or example; the soul enjoys evolution and naturally seeks to feel self-sufficient.
Intellectual Dharma – Intellectual Dharma never really pauses; our mind ceaselessly explores conscious solutions and optimal outcomes for the self. When awake and while sleeping our mind serves whatever ethics and morals we believe represent and help our fulfillment in life. It is one’s duty to seek education, make time to observe peers and mentors in action who have succeeded in tasks one’s aims to achieve. All without harm to others.
Spiritual Dharma – Spiritual Dharma is a quiet and powerful force. This power accumulates over time from self-study, absorption in stillness, concentration, meditating on the unseen forces and dynamics of random events and relationships around the self. Reading spiritual material and attending share groups/events can help one gain insight, reduce stress, anxiety and anger. With awareness and clarity positive energy can be directed for one’s higher purpose and development.
Artha (Safety, security)
Environment Artha – Environmental Artha is devoted to safety and security of one’s person and any dependents. Make it a priority to ensure physical safety including getting enough sleep to operate a vehicle or machinery. The most effective way to be cognizant of safety and security when ever and where ever one may go for the self and others is to learn and follow through with optimal procedures and rules. Seek out non-violent people willing to help you; offer patience in your service to others.
Physical Artha – Providing the necessities of life such as clean water, food, shelter, clothing, transportation and respect of personal space are all part of Physical Artha.
Purposely not eat enough, eating poor food choices or consuming too much food impairs one’s security of health including mind, emotion and spiritual progress. Place in one’s home, plate and body what is healthful for the self and give the best to those being provided for. This is detrimental to the vitality of the self and loved ones.
Emotional Artha – Security in feeling what one feels is essential. A balance between a private quiet emotional life and social emotional lifestyle is important for Emotional Artha wellness and development. Feeling safe or not safe often precedes mental dialogue and can in many situations provide an extra few precious seconds to avoid disaster. Affirm and honor your feelings.
Intellectual Artha – The privilege of learning and learning in a safe environment is a wonderful gift. Living Intellectual Artha teaches with kindness and precision for each person is unique. Be assertive with one’s own learning by exploring what methods work best for you. Practice the areas that are not as easy. Each person has developed aptitudes for different ways of learning, remembering and applying knowledge. Failing will expand awareness and wisdom for greater success ahead; applicable for both achieving for the self and for seeing quickly how to assist others.
Spiritual Artha – Spiritual Artha is beyond all persons around one’s self. In humans it is estimated by Anthroposophical studies that by age 10 a child is aware of itself as a separate entity from the parents. Here begins the awareness of a guiding force present for every child that is by design able to protect and nudge him or her through a lifetime. Time in prayer and meditation helps to clear the murk away and bring unity and peace.
Kama (pleasure, affirmation)
Environmental Kama The experience of affirming others, pleasing others, creating a beautiful, simple and clean environment are part of living in the awareness of Environmental Kama. Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga are both branches of Yoga that dedicate the self to the development of selfless service. The pleasure arises from giving away and discovering nothing is lost, much unseen grace is gained. This also would apply to a contractor building a house or deck for a family to the highest building codes, function and design. Even without seeing photos of the work or driving by to see the structure, the contractor experiences great joy knowing it was the best possible work completed.
Physical Kama – To observe and affirm the magic of existence, the distinction of self and to be free to explore and test one’s physical abilities is a divine gift of Physical Kama. To be pain free, move freely, even coordinated, to gain strength, flexibility, endurance, balance, and longevity is a great joy. All the sensory receptors of light touch, temperature, and even pain receptors are a source of pleasure for the pain receptor guard and protect us from further damage, sparing our body from excessive work to repair. Real passion is gentle, aware and enduring.
Emotional Kama – Every emotion humanly possible is afford to each person with the life long care takers role to nourish, rejuvenate and capacitate an enormous reservoir of feelings, states of hovering, falling, humming, being energized, inspired, worried, agitated, sad, happy, quiet, angry and so on. Practicing meditation on emotions that arise, feel where in one’s body where the energy is concentrated or knotted and visualize sending the energy out as pure life force to nourish the entire being. Feel harmony restored in the body. Discover the flow and wellness and vitality!
Intellectual Kama – Enjoyment in an active imagination, retention of knowledge and reflection in gratitude all nourish Intellectual Kama. The ‘ahha’ moments that we experience when we break through concepts and understand how to apply them is pleasure and affirmation of being alive! Self appreciation for one’s achievements is a wonderful energy that spurs one on to new and interesting ideas. Learning to take smaller continual steps rather than a start-stop approach is a sign of Intellectual Kama.
Spiritual Kama Deep and light is the touch of consciousness of one’s blissful self. Finding peace in the sea of life through its paradoxical impersonal and personal experiences set the self free from attachment, pain and sorrow. Spiritual Kama opens the aperture of being aligned with the infinite self. Acceptance of things as they truly are, empowers the soul to make use of what is present in order to manifest something new. It also enables the soul to effortlessly maintain what is. Simplifying one’s life is an efficient way to energize this power.
Moksha (liberation, peace)
Environmental Moksha – To go about one’s daily activities and duties in safety and joy can be wonderful but it does not necessarily promise liberation and true peace. There is a mechanism beneath that transcends incidental momentum that can help ensure Environmental Moksha, even when things are shaken up. Practicing independent activities that feed creativity, thinking and movement. Make these activities choices that can be shared socially if called upon. Build Kula (community).
Physical Moksha – Independence from parents, care givers, including forgiveness, gratitude is based on the understanding that the diversity of creation in the universe is in relationship and is connected. Feeling separate is unnecessary. Physical Moksha is achieved when space/time separation does not diminish the positive capacity to remember and care for others.
Physical Moksha also refers to one’s relationship with material things and freedom from attachments of hoarding, excessive shopping as well as compulsive throwing away of things others may be in need of. Knowing and living with what is truly needed yields much peace as does sharing with community to help ease the burden of achievement/work effort of those around us.
Emotional Moksha – To live unencumbered by dogmas or terror of conformity allows a steady stream of power for exploring new experiences and ideas with curiosity and objectivity. Emotional Moksha is meditation in motion with a sense of eternity in a moment. Fully immersed in a task allows the person to set it aside with peace having felt at one with the process, whether the task was completed or still in progress. Be strong to remove distractions for a time to be fully in the moment with whatever one is working on.
Intellectual Moksha – Sometimes, in the moment of having all the answers to the questions in our minds we are filled with a feeling of liberation and freedom. Yet more important than having the answer to every question one’s mind might construct is the wonder that the question arose as well the drive to pursue it and the potential of truth. This is the wheel of truth that liberates one from inertia and onward to knowledge, wisdom and understanding. Balance time between achieving and jumping into the unknown…somewhere in the field between the two is a place to play in.
Spiritual Moksha – To blissfully know that nothing is complete here, until death, a death that is eminent is spiritual Moksha. Peace in this knowledge is mastery, so that lethargy and agitation are no longer hindrances but energies to slow down or speed up time we spend doing various activities. The complexity of the life supports each person for the pleasure of it’s own mystery and magic. May all beings everywhere be happy and free, namaste.