This is the time of year to make resolutions. To look at ourselves and decide what needs to change. As I get older, I’ve learned to be a more realistic resolution maker, to steer clear of grandiose promises to myself that I can’t follow through with. (Calm down Vata dosha!) I’m also able now to look at my life through a wider scope for what needs nourishment, help, juice, movement. What helps me through this process of assessment and self contemplation is the Vedic teaching of the Four Aims of Life. I offer this teaching in this newsletter in order to inspire you to find within yourself a rich, sincere, fulfilling and deep, intention or resolution for a new year in a new world which is 2013.
The Four Aims of Life, The Purusharthas
Often referred to as the Four Pillars of Life, the Four Aims of Life are dharma, artha, kama, and moksha. Dharma is often defined as righteous duty, sacred purpose, living according to law. To find out what your dharma is, is a noble pursuit and certainly worthy of a New Year’s resolution (or ten!). Wake up early in the morning and make a cup of Brahmi tea. Then ask the following. What is my purpose here? Do I know why I’m here? Does my daily life reflect that purpose? According to Vedic teachings, these questions can be answered. Once the answers are discovered, they are to be acted on. Through this action, we continue to the next aim; which is artha. Artha is defined as monetary success, wealth, and/or objects. The natural flow from dharma is artha. This may be the year for a resolution addressing financial and monetary success. (Who doesn’t want monetary success?) It could also be a year to learn more about money. Ask the following questions. Do I have enough money for what I need? Am I spending responsibly? Can I learn more about money and how it works in order to make smarter decisions regarding my finances?
Dr. Lad defines kama as the “fulfillment of biological needs as well as psychological positive desire.” Kama has also been defined as desire in general, and the more specific sexual desire (i.e. Kamasutra). Desire teaches discernment, as well as psychological boundaries. Is it a lesson this year to desire more deeply, more truly, more honestly? It is said in both Hinduism and Buddhism that desire is the cause of much suffering. Did this ring true for you in 2012? How can this change in 2013?
The last of the Purusharthas is the elegant act of moksha. This is defined as liberation, enlightenment, and/or the absence of delusion. What can be said by a practitioner of Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine of enlightenment? Well, one aspect of moksha may entail the balance of the body, mind, and spirit. It is proper health and beyond. It is the reason why Ayurveda came to be; for longevity and freedom from the elements and the gunas that bind us to the cycles of earthly living. I can’t say much more than that. Though, I’ll say I’ve heard that if one is sincere in the quest for dharma, artha, and kama; the succeeding natural step is moksha. For some, the mere idea of enlightenment is so far away. Maybe 2013 is about introducing the idea of it into your mind, for no other reason but for play. What is enlightenment? Who has been enlightened? What can they teach us?
Awareness of the doshas and Ayurvedic principles help us as we move through these directions of life known as The Four Aims. Vata dosha gives us insight into our dharma and carries with it the sattva quality which is needed for moksha. Pitta dosha allows us to transform the old into new. (Goodbye 2012!) Kapha dosha carries with it the qualities of dedication, loyalty, and stability so that one can follow through on resolutions and intentions set. This year contemplate the Purusharthas and begin 2013 anew. Happy New Year!
(Re-printed from our January 2013 newsletter.)