The ancient and new-ancient yogis agree, no life is completely lived without the achievement of the four following goals.
the goal of fulfilling the duties assigned to us by our positions in society;
the goal of accumulating possessions in the course of fulfilling our Dharma;
the goal of satisfying legitimate desires with the assistance of ones accumulated possessions; and
the goal of realizing that there is more to life than duty, possessions and desires.
Our Dharma is whatever our assignment is right now.
At this moment I am a yoga teacher so sharing the teachings of yoga is therefor my dharma. You have your assignment, your position in life, and so that is your dharma should you choose to accept it. Your Dharma can also shift. Right now I teach yoga but who’s to say that I will be teaching 5 years from now?
Along the way we will collect experiences and material objects in support of our duties in life- in support of our Dharma. Because my work stems from ceremonial teachings I have collected many objects to support my offerings. I have prayer beads, herbs, urns and oil lamps just to name a few. All of which go towards supporting my place of sharing sacred space with others.
These possessions give us a boost and support us in our duties. For someone else it could be that they work in tech and now have the most insane computer any one has ever seen. Or perhaps a gardener receiving new seeds. Artha, is possessing those objects and experiences that support our Dharma.
What follows is usually enjoyment. We enjoy the satisfaction and pleasure that that comes out of the legitimate desire to fulfill and honor our duties in life. I desire to share sacred space with others, and to fulfill this on a daily basis feels wonderful!
The real teaching (and struggle for many of us) is in realizing that there is much more to life than any duty, possession or pleasure. The goal is actually to go beyond our goals.
For me, this state of Moksha arrives when I gift myself the time and space to travel, go on retreat, or sit with my teacher. These experiences have a way of pulling me out of my usual stream of consciousness while thrusting me into the moment where my job title and duties just don’t matter as much as I thought they did.
This last experience in India I found myself connecting with the most beautiful loving family. We sat on the floor of their home, which consisted of one room, a bed, a fridge, and a small portable cooking stove that sat on the floor. The mother of the house generously offered us chai while her 11-year-old son showed off his drawing collection. He was so excited to have us view his collection. The rest of the family made gentle conversation but it was their openness and gratitude for our presence that left us heart struck and humble.
What does my title mean in this situation? Absolutely nothing.
In that moment all that matters, all that carries any weight in the world is the openness of your heart and a willingness to connect.
Live your moments. Happily receive all of the gifts that come to you. Commit to putting yourself in situations that allow you to see that none of the I, me or mine really matters as much as we think it does.
My teacher always says, “Don’t get trapped”. There are infinite illusions in this world. Play in the illusion; taste it, feel it, enjoy it. Just don’t get trapped there. We need you in the light.