Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Four Aspects of Life

Our natural inclination is to grow toward the Divine Light, just as a plant naturally tends to grow toward the sun. Sometimes conditions encourage that growth, other times it is just one obstacle after another. The path that God is leading you down is the path toward the Light. The meaning of life is God-Realization (or Self-Realization). Your meaning - right here and right now - is the meaning you give to your life.

A Divine Life is living to serve others (including family) on their journey toward the Ultimate Reality while you continue on your journey. Devoting yourself to raising your family is one of the most meaningful lives available to anyone. Although it sometimes seems futile and insignificant, raising a family is one of the most important things a person can do. But remember, it is not necessarily selfish to do good for yourself first - you must care for your needs before you can offer care to others.

For me, yoga is not about physical exercise or health - yoga is my spiritual practice. The purpose of my practice is to develop a direct experience of my relationship with the Divine. The meaning of life for me is expressed by sharing my journey in order to help others touch the Divine. I am often distracted by the more mundane cares of the world, but thanks to the generosity of my students I am able survive without the energetic dissipation of keeping a more normal job. I am currently living a very blessed life in that I am able to spend all of my time studying and teaching and deepening my practice. Om!

For you - if you would like to enrich your mind, body, and spirit - then just do it. There is no reason to wait - there is only now so act now! The challenges you are facing right now in your life will not be any more challenging or demanding if you invest in wisdom for your mind, body, and spirit; in fact, the investment in yourself will make you more capable in dealing with the rest of life's challenges.

In tantra it is said that there are four aspects of life that need to be properly actualized - [1] life's purpose (dharma), [2] livelihood (artha), [3] pleasure (kama), and [4] spiritual liberation (moksha).

Dharma means law, but in this context dharma means (in part) "your life's proper purpose". It is the idea that there is a role or activity that you are supposed to be acting out - be it teacher, builder, fire-fighter, businessman, or bum. God-Realization requires we find our dharma and fulfill it. "It is better to perform your own dharma poorly than to perform another's dharma well." Raising children and caring for family is a part of your dharma, but it is not your entire life's purpose. (Dharmanidhiji calls your underlying life's purpose your "Nadi".)

Artha means wealth. We all need a certain amount of money for survival. Exactly how much we need depends on the responsibilities we have taken on and our dharma. The tendency is to want much more than we need, this leads to spiritual difficulty. Another common problem is earning your livelihood in a way that conflicts with your dharma.

Kama means pleasure. Life should be pleasurably (but not glutinously). It is important to enjoy life appropriately. Taste life's pleasures without becoming attached to them or developing a habit requiring a particular pleasure (and without causing harm to yourself or others). Don't lust for immediate gratification and don't indulge pleasures that conflict with your dharma.

Moksha means liberation. We are bound to this apparent reality ("samsara") because of the desires (and aversions) of our senses and heart (mind). Samsara exists for the sake of working through our karmas (karma is a huge topic). Liberation is to experience the Divine Reality and no longer be bound by the limitations of samsara. This is a very misunderstood topic and this brief description probably only adds to the confusion. Liberation is not escaping from reality, rather it is escaping into reality.

Integral Kriya Yoga is a system to investigate these four aspects of life and perhaps to bring them into proper balanced expression. Since this actually involves everything in life it is easy to be overwhelmed. But, "yoga is not for the weak." This doesn't refer to physical strength, but rather it is about will and resolve. If it were easy everyone would know they are enlightened (everyone is, they just don't know it).

There is no magic ... no instant enlightenment to earn (although God can grace you with enlightenment at any moment, mostly it is just the gradual unfoldment). There is an endless procession of hypothetical bull sh*t and interesting factoids, but information only adds a little to the process. The real treasures are the practices to practice - practices that reveal your true nature and aid you in your investigation and spiritual transformation.

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