• Acharya Shunya

The 4 Universal Goals in Life


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There is a fascinating topic about four universal goals, worth pursuing that, believe it or not help us think correctly. This teaching is very ancient, almost every source, text from Vedic spirituality talks about these four goals that are, universally known as Purushartha. The Sanskrit term literally means that, which is worth pursuing for a soul. We are embodied souls, we are not just our body, we are not just our mind and we really are pure spirit consciousness. The true self within, has connections with the ultimate truth and so when we are on this planet here, finding ourselves in different kinds of bodies, different kinds of life stories, you can wonder to yourself, you know, amongst all the things that I desire, what should I desire? And if we have, this strategic wisdom with us, believe it or not, we will be able to think more clearly, we would get less caught up in negativity and false positivity. We would be able to stay closer to our ability to think organically.

So, let me share with you, these four universal goals one by one and you know, well keep coming back to this topic, in fact, I have planned to invite a friend Yuvacharya Aiello Brian, author, a speaker, a teacher to share her views on this topic. We are just going to keep walking down this path of the Vedas and exploring. What it has to offer, so that we can stay, in the realm of truth and reality in the world, so that we then connect with the ultimate reality within ourselves, which is the self and this will be the safest way and the surest way to move from the shadow to the self. So here we go.

The first goal that, the Vedas would like you and I to, bring into our consciousness is not seeking a soul mate, not finding a job, not settling down, but first and foremost, seeking to cultivate a higher consciousness and this goal is known as Dharma. When we begin to pursue embodying Dharma in our life, it is only really then, that podcast such as mine, the shadow to self become relevant to you. You won’t just hear it once; you will wait for the next episode. You will go back and listen to the old ones. You will not just read my books once but several times. You will try to live that truth, you will try to embody, authenticity in your speech, in your actions in your relationships why? Why you do, what you do? Why you care not to allow your mind to be colored by excessive positivity or kidnapped and ransacked by excessive negativity why because you value Dharma.

So ,Dharma ,sometimes we think , is all about, how kind and how nice we are to others and yes, that is true and in future episodes when we look at Dharma ,more closely we will definitely learn to embody so many more values and attitudes that make us, valuable to the whole planet, but dharma is also about valuing ,your own self and acting in a self-valuing manner, because when you value yourself, and the individual values itself, the whole society becomes benefitted ,from that valuable being and by pursuing Dharma ,you are in a way, making an internal commitment, to true thoughts, to true organic thinking because this is where we can connect, to that higher plane of consciousness within us. So, Dharma is a universal prescription. It’s not just for, one kind of people or one gender or one class of people or at a certain age of life, whether you are a teenager listening to me, whether you are in the eve of your life, no matter what stage of life you are in.

When you bring Dharma into your life, you will start walking your talk. You will start being cognizant

of your own mind and questioning its authenticity, its premise for its conclusions, its inbuilt unconscious biases. You will start hacking apart you own brain, mind, consciousness, continuum and seeing into it, as seeing into your own psyche as the observer self and saying, is this true or is this imagined? Is this real or am I having a fest with illusions and delusions? So, Dharma makes us psychologically, socially, emotionally and spiritually sound, authentic or at least we have the desire to be authentic.

Dharma will then allow you to, make those changes, seek counseling if need be, read books; we read authors who bring light into our own psyche and make us examine our own actions. So, people with Dharma are not only seeking sincerity, but they are also working with becoming accountable people, okay. So that’s one goal and when we have Dharma, if I say to you, got Dharma that means you are not being swayed by your thoughts, you are making that commitment to be with your thoughts and think them true.

The next universal goal, that the Vedas say to us is, you know go ahead and embody Artha A R T H A and Artha means we should make our own material and emotional stability, an important quest as embodies souls. What does that mean? When we seek a job, when we seek a life partner ,when we try to settle down and start a family, all these things make us secure ,make our beings secure physically and emotionally by having relationships and when we do that, it not only makes us feel secure, but from our psychological perspective ,we don't go into any pretenses ,that, this is not important or the time is spent taking care of our parents or spending time with our children or taking a loan out to buy a house, like these are secondary activities, because we are spiritual beings or we could say ,these are the most important activities but and to the point that we want to be so materially secure that, we even cheat or manipulate others .We bribe. We steal. We commit crimes, but we understand that, Dharma come first and Artha second, so we understand that there is value, to cultivating relationships, to cultivating a job in a profession and earning money or setting up a business, but it comes after Dharma and it is important too. So, if we can bring higher consciousness into Dharma, Dharma into Artha. If we can bring higher consciousness into our material quest, into our relationship quest, then we will have more organic thinking, we would think less doomsday scenarios or crazy silly happy scenarios that are not real.

The third universal goal that the Vedas recommend, we all cultivate, surprise! Surprise! Is pleasure. Yep! Sensorial pleasure, sexual pleasure, recreational pleasure, theatre, music, art, taking a vacation, enjoying some delicious food, cuddling up with your loved one, taking a walk or having crazy mind-numbing sex with your lover. All of this is recommended, by the Vedas. They do not recommend quickly taking a vow of celibacy, just because a celibate teacher impresses you or you have read a book about somebody being celibate three thousand years ago. For most people, for ninety-nine-point nine percent human beings embodied souls, sex, sensuality, pleasure is in built within us and we must seek it and we become really disturbed in our psyche, if we repress or suppress this, universal urge for pleasure.

So when understand the role of pleasure, then we understand that Dharma is important ,becoming stable Artha is equally important then we bring in pleasure, so we don’t toss away our security and stability for pleasure, but we don’t become so over focused in being secure and stable that we forget about pleasure. You can now see that a much more integrated life is happening here.

So, if you can bring into your life even three of the four goals. Dharma first, which is higher consciousness, the pursuit of truth, honesty, integrity. Artha second, which is the pursuit of profession and relationships, be it with friends, be it through marriage, be it through a live-in relationship but significant others, friends and family, that you hold close through your thick and thin in life, your community. This is all what represents Artha, your bank balance, your clothes in your closet for a rainy day, your umbrella, your warm coat for a cold day. All of this is Artha and the Vedas give us encouragement and permission to go out and get that, to not feel apologetic, if we have money or of we seek to be abundant, to be abundant is our birthright and we should go for it provided we also are holding, onto Dharma and higher values, within our own selves and then all work and no play that’s not going to work, so you must bring Kama or pleasure and joy and sexuality age appropriate and ethical into your life.

So, this is a much healthier prescription of life and then, surprise surprise, the Vedas introduce us to the fourth goal which is Moksha and Moksha has many meanings, that I am going to keep talking about and I have discussed Moksha earlier also in the prior episodes. It means many things, but it especially means freedom or liberation. Freedom from what? Liberation from what? And the Vedas say freedom from your own shadow, freedom from your own smallness, your ignorance, your limitedness. Freedom from thinking that you are just a body and you forget that you are spirit, yourself with a capital S and you have connections with the ultimate reality, and you want liberation from your own forgetfulness of who you are.

So Moksha is really, a spiritual goal and from a Vedic perspective, Moksha means ,making time for podcasts like this one ,making time for teachers, who don’t just teach you, feel good spirituality here chant this till the cows come home, here close your eyes and meditate and everything will become okay, but teachers and traditions like the Vedas, like Buddhism, like Jainism, like the deeper teachings of almost every religion, there is that mystical part of that religion ,which makes you explore your relationship with that god or goddess of that religion. You want to go to the heart of every religion or spiritual tradition where it is not just about an external, spiritual presence but about exploring that tender, amazing, beautiful, expanded, all powerful, spiritual presence within you. This is the beautiful thing, Moksha is then relaxing, in the face of life and allowing it all to unfold, even if that unfolding brings pain or sorrow or loss because Moksha is not about, controlling the world because for that, we have Dharma, we have Artha, money and relationships, we have Kama, fun and joy. Moksha is about going beyond physical losses or relationships ending or even this body decaying, to discover who you are. You are vaster and bigger than any fear. You are so open and so spacious that all of life, every thought, every sound, every sensation, every loss, every gain, every disappointment, and every success have a place here.

When through Moksha, you discover your true self, you will go beyond the shadow and then you do not fear storms because you are the storm. You do not crave for stillness because you are that stillness. Nothing threatens you; water cannot drown you because you have become the ocean in your expanded psyche, and fire cannot burn you because you become the flame of intensity. No disappointments and sorrows and obstacles can scatter your mind because you have become nimble and lighthearted like air.

So, I am using poetry because there is no word to describe the indescribable self. You can only know it, when to an extent you have become fulfilled with Artha and Kama, you have stability, you have been cultivating it unapologetically, you have lots of pleasure in your life and you have a higher consciousness to be ethical and truthful in it. As they say in spiritual circles you, wake up, you grow up, you show up that is Dharma and then ,there is an ultimate awakening, this is not ordinary waking up to who you are but an ultimate waking up, to the self and that should be our goal and when we have that as our goal, then how can we become sabotaged, how can our journey, let me reframe this, how can our journey ,become sabotaged by our own negative thinking or false positive thinking. It’s not even possible.

This is a whole map of living and thinking accurately that I am talking about here and Dharma which is, higher consciousness and Moksha which is, the quest of the true self should surround the quest of stability, Artha and pleasure, Kama. So, it’s like a sandwich and on either side the bread is Dharma and Moksha and in between the cucumbers and tomatoes is Artha and Kama, or pleasure and money and when we have this kind of a map in our life, then our thinking will become, very authentic, true to the moment.

For example, I remember this one time. This happened so many years ago, but I had this little bit of money in my bank and someone stole it, somebody who had access to my check book, stole it. Many, many years ago. This is so many years ago, when I was probably thirty years younger than I am today. So, it was a loss of stability for me. It was an attack on my Artha goal because, that money in my bank, made me more secure. It was also emotionally devastating at that time, because someone I trusted enough to a signed check used that to deceive me and my partner from that money, but because I had this map of Dharma on one end and Moksha on the other end supporting my quest, for wealth and security and honest and dependable people in my life, it was a shock, but it didn’t ruin me. Somebody can take a couple of hundred dollars or thousand dollars from me, but they can’t take away my destiny, they can’t take my peace of mind, they can’t take away my ability to create, so much more abundance, not just for myself but for countless people. Why? Because I knew that even in the middle of this dishonesty that has come my way due to past karma or because I have to teach, this person something, whatever be the reason that this manifested in my life, I could act from higher conscious, I didn’t have to fall apart, I didn’t have to get crazy in that loss and be suspicious of everybody else who ever came into my life. I still trust people and because of Moksha in my life being an important adjunct to anything I do, my true self is, beyond what I have in my bank or I don’t have. It’s beyond who is in my life and how loyal they are and how honest they are and how they are not because this is all part of a dream. The shadow self is going through a dream, where its meeting dark and light characters, loyal and disloyal friends, dependable and non-dependable employees but my true self is here experienced all of this, but not get molded and collapsed and stamped by those experiences.

So, I continued to, create stability for myself for the philanthropic work I do, for the people who are employed in my organization continue to build stability. My work and my presence are a cause of stability, for countless families today all over the world. But this couldn't have been if I didn’t have Dharma to support me, if I couldn’t choose a higher road, and if I didn’t know who I am or at least I tried to know who I am, because of which I know who I am Moksha.

So where will you continue this discussion this doesn’t end here. This is like placing some seeds into the rich soil of your consciousness. We will continue talking, keep tuning in and if you like these deeper dialogues, that I am having through this podcast. Do leave me a review and share this podcast, help me spread the light of Vedas. This is what excites me. To truth, to authenticity, to Dharma and to Moksha. We shall meet again. Until then, take care, lots of love. This is Acharya Shunya signing off.

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Acharya Shunya is a globally-recognized spiritual teacher and Vedic lineage-holder who awakens health and consciousness through the Vedic sciences of Ayurveda, Vedanta and Yoga. She is the driving force behind an online wisdom school and worldwide spiritual community, and the author of best-selling book on the Vedic art of mind + body + soul well-being and health, Ayurveda Lifestyle Wisdom (Sounds True, 2017) and forthcoming second book with Sounds True to be released in 2020, Sovereign Self. Acharya Shunya is a keynote speaker at national and international conferences, and serves as an advisor to the Indian Government in matters pertaining to global integration and cultivation of Ayurveda and Yoga. Receive her free online teachings and browse her current eCourse offerings here or see more about her on Facebook and follow her on Instagram. Subscribe to her YouTube Channel where she holds live Global Satsangs once per month. Study Ayurveda with Acharya Shunya in her online course, Alchemy through Ayurveda.


Hayward, California, USA