Four Pillars for a Balanced Life

May 1, 2010 § Leave a comment

Ever felt that you needed a little direction in your life, that despite the saying that you should “do what your heart desires,” sometimes you just need a little more guidance, a little push?

I do.

Here’s where the the Yogic four aims of life, or the purusharthas, come in. When I first came across this article”Aim High” by Hillari Dowdle from Yoga Journal (February 2010, Issue 226), I was immediately drawn in by the powerful questions that helped defined more of my views for my future. I was thoroughly confused about my goals in life…what to do after college? And the article really shed light on what was really important in my life, what I enjoyed, and not what others expected me to enjoy or do. It was like a splash of ice cold water on my face and right there, and I awoke from other people’s dream for me. Not my  own dream.

According to Rod Stryker, the Para yoga founder: “We all have a desire for a meaningful life. The purusharthas are “the means that can help us achieve it.” Purusha means, roughly, “soul,” while artha means “the ability” or “for the purpose of.”

So what are the four aims, the four strong pillars?

1) Dharma || Duty

Dharma defines what you believe your role in this society is. Your decisions and actions in life are determined by your dharma.

  • What is my role in the world?
  • What are my obligations? Which ones feel right?
  • When am I serving the highest good, what am I doing?
  • Am I on a path for the good?
  • How can I best serve the world around me?

2) Artha || Prosperity

Artha is the material luxuries you need to live with comfort and ease. It refers to things–your computer, your car, your business suit, your yoga mat–or knowledge that are essential for supporting your dharma. For example, if you are a writer, you will need pen, paper, and your creativity. If you are a yogi, you will need a mat, and uninterrupted time and space.

  • Knowing my dharma, what do I need to play my role in the world?
  • Where do I place value?
  • Do I have enough?
  • Are my things making me happy, or are they stealing my joy?
  • Am I afraid of having more? Am I afraid of not having more?
  • What does wealth mean to me besides money?

3) Kama || Pleasure

The desire for pleasure, or kama, is what drives you and everyone else to reach for a goal that pleases the selves. It exists to support the dharma if one knows how to take pleasure in moderation and for good deeds.

  • What am I passionate about?
  • What brings me pleasure?
  • Am I enjoying my life?
  • Am I happy?
  • What do I care about?
  • What do I most desire?
  • Am I hooked on anything?
  • Are my pleasures leading me toward or away from my life’s purpose?

4) Moksha || Freedom

Or liberation, for freeing yourself from things that restrain your thoughts and creativity, or from your dharma. Freedom is a bliss like you’ve gone back to pure form, to pure naivety, like looking into a baby’s eyes.

  • What am I doing to free myself from activities and perceptions that make me unhappy?
  • How can I not get caught in my emotions? What do I choose to bind myself to?
  • Do I feel trapped?
  • Can I be free from blaming myself and others?
  • How can I make my mind free?

Do you think the purusharthas are good guidelines for the pursuit in life?

Have you, at one point in your life, asked any of these questions listed above to yourself?

Have any of these questions changed your perspectives?

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