Self-Realization through Yoga Meditation of the Yoga Sutras, the contemplative insight of Advaita Vedanta, and the intense devotion of Samaya Sri Vidya Tantra

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Four Aspects of Human Life:
Dharma, Artha, Kama, Moksha

by Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati

There are four aspects or facets of human life: dharma, artha, kama and moksha. They have to do with living one's purpose, having a stable foundation in the world, wisely fulfilling desires, and freedom from the constraints of one's false identities. Each of these is a part of life. While it may be true that ultimately the goal of life has only to do with final liberation (moksha), the others are virtually essential steps along the way. Recognizing this is one way of holding the suggestion to live "in" the world, while not being "of" the world.

1) Artha has to do with providing for the hunger, thirst, safety needs that are inherent in living in a physical body. In our modern world, this generally means having money to provide the essentials. Even the wandering monk who receives food and clothes from the charity of others is a part of this, as the food and clothes were undoubtedly a part of the economic process in one way or another. Artha recognizes this level of physical or material need, which is not contrary to spiritual life.

2) Kama has to do with the fulfillment of desires in the world. Without deep, latent desires (samskaras) there would be no incarnation. "Kama" is different from "karma." The meaning of "karma" is "action" and refers to the playing out of our deep impressions of attraction and aversion. Kama is the enlivened desire that springs forth from those latent conditionings. To say that these are not there, and that they all must be renounced is virtually not practical. Desires must be acknowledged and reasonably fulfilled with mindfulness so as to move towards freedom from them, not adding to a continuous cycle of fulfilling and intensifying.

3) Dharma has to do with fulfilling our own desires in ways consistent with the whole of the flow of the universe. It is a process of alignment, whereby one moves steadily, wisely, and with clear mind in the natural flow of Truth, God, Divine, or whatever one chooses that naturally intuited reality. Dharma has been called natural law, harmony, truth, duty, wisdom, and the inherent nature of things.  The word "Dharma" is from dhri, meaning to hold together, to sustain. To live in dharma is to live with our individual nature to be in accord with the whole of the flow of things.

4) Moksha is the final liberation from all of the deep driving impressions that continually play out in the mind and the world, that keep causing us to come and go from bodily form. It means that the deep conditionings no longer bind. It is freedom from the bondage of our ropes of karma that seem to bind us. Moksa is the direct experience of the Absolute Truth or Reality, along with the total setting aside of all false identities of who we think we are. Self-realization, the direct experience of our true nature as pure consciousness, Purusha, or Atman is one stage. That experience, plus the total, permanent transcendence of the conditionings is moksha.

The four are not easy to do, to live in daily life. They are points of awareness, aspects of both our being and the sadhana (spiritual practices) that we each live on our way to the highest goal of human life. By remembering and reflecting on these four principles, facets, or aspects of life, the process is seen in more simple terms. It is not easy, but the simplicity can be seen and lived.




This site is devoted to presenting the ancient Self-Realization path of the Tradition of the Himalayan masters in simple, understandable and beneficial ways, while not compromising quality or depth. The goal of our sadhana or practices is the highest Joy that comes from the Realization in direct experience of the center of consciousness, the Self, the Atman or Purusha, which is one and the same with the Absolute Reality. This Self-Realization comes through Yoga meditation of the Yoga Sutras, the contemplative insight of Advaita Vedanta, and the intense devotion of Samaya Sri Vidya Tantra, the three of which complement one another like fingers on a hand. We employ the classical approaches of Raja, Jnana, Karma, and Bhakti Yoga, as well as Hatha, Kriya, Kundalini, Laya, Mantra, Nada, Siddha, and Tantra Yoga. Meditation, contemplation, mantra and prayer finally converge into a unified force directed towards the final stage, piercing the pearl of wisdom called bindu, leading to the Absolute.