Purpose, Prosperity, Pleasure, and Freedom
As I studied the teachings of Kriya Yoga, and learned about the four goals for spiritually conscious living, it was heartening to discover that the spiritual life could and should be so practical. Yoga is a “how-to-live” system that teaches us how to be spiritually awake and aware, find fulfillment, and contribute to life.
I was profoundly interested to learn that Paramahansa Yogananda taught that we should not separate the spiritual and the material. He learned from his guru and other teachers in the lineage that the Reality we call God or Spirit is a continuum—both transcendent and immanent. There is no separation between the material and the spiritual realms. One Reality expresses as all that is. We have different ways of talking about it, but it's One Life, One Reality. I was encouraged to discover that living a spiritual life meant living my life here and now with greater awareness and skill.
Living Consciously as a Spiritual practice
I was drawn to the idea that our spiritual practice is not something to take us out of the world but rather something that helps us become more effective at living our lives in a higher way. Dharma, the first of the four Vedic goals for spiritually conscious living, is about that. It means “living with higher purpose.” It is learning to live our life in harmony with the Infinite. The benefit of this is that we come to live in a very different way—one in which life is seen as holy and sacred. It's not just an idea that we're living in the aliveness of God and in a cooperative relationship with the Infinite; it’s the reality of our life.
Living Consciously - Living with Higher Purpose
Dharma is a Sanskrit word, and the literal translation is, "what holds together." Dharma is also sometimes called the “way of righteousness” or simply The Way. It refers to the fundamental sense of divine order, That which upholds all life. That which is the basis of all things working together in harmony. Although Dharma also has to do with purpose, the purpose is secondary to its reference to the order of things. Dharma is that which makes life what it is—that divine order of which we are a part.
Usually, until we wake up, we don't pay much attention to Dharma, but when we wake up, we start asking, "How do I live in harmony with this divine order?" Dharma touches every area of our life—the moral conscience, the social order, the family order. Sometimes, it's also defined as duty or religious duty. When used in this way, Dharma is about what is specifically ours to do in the overall, fundamental, divine order of things. Dharma is less something we need to go and do and more about what we are becoming, what we are to be, and how the divine qualities of God can express through us.
When hearing about Dharma or living with higher purpose, some people become concerned that they are not sure what their purpose is. There is no need for us to worry about our Dharma because when we follow our spiritual practice and meditate, and the mind gets quieter, our intuition gets stronger and we begin to naturally live into the question, right? What is mine to do and to be, and who do I need to be in order for God to be God in me? When we meditate, our intuition awakens, and we remove some of the obstructions that keep us from bumping into divine support. Divine support is always there, and when we stop fussing and worrying so much, we can just sit down and get clear. I remember my teacher saying early on, "If you don't know what is yours to do, then serve someone doing something that inspires you." That worked like magic for me.
The four goals of life, as outlined in the Vedas, are to help us learn how to live a fulfilled life, how to live a purposeful life, and a life in harmony with the Infinite. The greatest benefit for me is that my life with yoga has become multi-dimensional. No longer two-dimensional, as though I am separate from everything. Now, it is more connected and congruent—like being in the midst of this shimmering one Reality, this aliveness that is everything.
From a transcript of a talk on The Four Goals of Conscious Living
To hear about the other three goals of spiritually conscious living, their meaning, and how they relate to each other, listen to this The Yoga Hour podcast episode HERE!