In this video we discuss the four aims of life and the tantric path of liberation. What is the purpose of life? How should we spend our time and energy? In Hinduism it is said that there are four aims of life which are to be righteous, joyous, accumulate wealth, and to achieve liberation. The ultimate goal of life is liberation from ego, karma, and maya and the realization of self as being one with god.
However, for the householder, one who lives in the world and has not renounced it, liberation must be achieved while fulfilling our social and bodily needs. For the householder liberation is achieved and supported by the pursuit of all four aims of life. This method of achieving liberation while embracing the material world and living in it is at the heart of the tantric tradition.
This approach to liberation and self-realization is one of balance. Every experience is embraced and in the alchemical fires of ones being transmuted into ultimate liberation. This is a very different approach to spirituality than one sees in most religious traditions.
Most traditions and people have a tendency to separate material and spiritual aims. Many choose a path of material pursuits or spiritual achievement but view these two aims as being mutually exclusive. To be rich is to be crass, ruthless, and a stranger to god. To be spiritually enlightened is to be secluded from worldly activity and impoverished.
This dialectic can be seen in both eastern and western cultures. However, it is fundamentally a dualistic way of thinking, and therefore misses the mark of embodying true nonduality. The material world is not fundamentally different from the spiritual world. Both exist on a spectrum of being. Both exist on a spectrum of frequency and density of vibrating intelligent energy. Therefore, spiritual mastery cannot exclude the material but must embrace and include it.
In the Law of One they teach that every lived experience can be elevated to the sacramental, and that all experience should be used as grist for the mill of one’s spiritual evolution. This tantric approach to spirituality embraces all experience and seeks to elevate it and use it for ones liberation and self-realization.
To be righteous is to fulfill one’s dharma. Dharma concerns ones duty and actions taken in the world. We are all born into a web of relationships and life circumstances. We all have different gifts, abilities, and passions. To fulfill one’s dharma is to live and act with integrity, fulfilling ones duty to others while expressing ones gifts, abilities, and passions in service to the good of the whole. We are all born with a debt to life by virtue of the gift of these precious human births and bodies. Repay that debt to life by fulfilling your dharma and serving the good of the whole in the way only you can.
The second aim of life is kama, which is translated as love, desire and pleasure. Pleasure is a legitimate aim of life. Living a life that is joyous is part of what it means to skillfully live a spiritual life. Many who seek liberation fall into the trap of suppressing their own natural desire for love, pleasure, and joy.
I know many lovely kindhearted spiritual people who live lives of misery, often out of a lack of self-love. Because they do not love themselves they deny their own desires for love and pleasure. The thought process goes something like this, “If all is one then I should be able to accept these difficult life circumstances. If I were more enlightened I could do without my unfulfilled desires or I could be happy in these unpleasant joyless circumstances.” Such people often spend years if not lifetimes spiritually bypassing their lived experience, rejecting physical reality, and seeking escape in spiritual attainment. Suffering is often our teacher but should not be our home.
This way of thinking creates a false division between the physical and spiritual. Whatever your current circumstances are should be embraced fully. If they are joyless and miserable it is because physical reality is out of alignment with your soul. Seek harmony between the two by taking action in the present moment to fulfill desires and experience love and pleasure. True spiritual mastery means living a joyous life and not everyone’s definition of what that looks is the same.
Artha is the pursuit of prosperity and wealth. This is the third aim of life. We all require different levels of material wealth to feel prosperous. Don’t take pride in poverty and lack, or in gluttony. The amount of material resources you need to feel prosperous will depend on your dharma and desires. What do you need to fulfill your purpose in life? What do you need to fulfill your life enhancing desires?
Strive for a balanced approach in pursuing wealth. Do not become a slave to either lack or excess. The desires of the ego are endless, so be discerning about what is a life enhancing desire and what is not. Wisely manage your resources and accumulate what you need to feel prosperous.
Moksha or liberation is the ultimate goal of life as we said previously. This central aim should inform all others. Those who seek liberation seek liberation from the bondage of ego, karma, and maya. These three bonds keep us in the cycle of human incarnations in third density.
Liberation from ego is achieved through daily effective meditation to raise our consciousness to be identified with witnessing awareness instead of the voice in our head.
Liberation from karma is achieved by fulfilling our duty to others and observing the yamas and niyamas. In so doing we fulfill the agreements of this lifetime and do not create more debts to be repaid in future incarnations.
Finally, liberation from maya or the veiling effect of separateness is achieved through cultivating non-attachment to action and form. We are freed from maya when it has taught us everything we need to learn from it on this plane of existence. By proceeding through life and the play of form with skill, equanimity, and non-attachment maya fulfills her purpose in teaching us the lessons of life, and we are freed from her influence.