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Wk 169 – Purusartha – 4 Desires – 2. Artha

The Purusarthas are the 4 Desires, aims or goals to a human life according to Hindu philosophy.

  1. Dharma: One’s purpose. Referring to a life path that an individual must follow which is righteous and moral. Finding purpose in fulfilling one’s ethical duties & responsibilities.
  2. Artha: Means and tools to support your Dharma. It is the pursuit of gaining material wealth, prosperity, and economic security.
  3. Kama: Pertains to desires, passions, and the pursuit of pleasure, including both physical and emotional enjoyment. Art, music, ascetic beauty as well as sensual and sexual enjoyment. 
  4. Moksha: Signifies liberation or spiritual emancipation, the ultimate goal of breaking the cycle of birth and death (samsara) and attaining oneness with the Divine. Attaining  Self-Actualisation or Realisation of the true Self.

We are seekers, students, yogis, adhikaras that we are drawn to a diligent focused practice, called abhyasa, refining our viveka shakti, keen discernment, wise judgment in skilful action that leads us to fulfil our hearts desires, our soul’s longing to evolve and discover not just who we are but what we are

So we learn in practice how to let go of distraction, detaching with love from sensory observation, called vairagya and distil the essence of consciousness, awake within us to ultimately find fulfilment in our lives, contentment within ourselves and freedom from what causes us to suffer.  

YS 1.20 5 Virtues of a Yogi/Adhikara

  1. Shraddha – Faith, trust, belief, hope
  2. Vidya – Courage, bravery, fearlessness, determination, conviction, stamina
  3. Smirti – Memory, tools, intention, what is most important, truth of impermanence,  
  4. Samadhi – Absorption, to assimilate what is experienced, good/bad/diff
  5. Prajna – Light of Intelligence, insight, clear perception, acuity, mental capacity 

Artha means and tools to support one’s purpose. Acquiring material wealth, prosperity, economic security by aligning with morals to fulfil your dharma. Material wealth is not the primary focus, but a balanced and responsible approach to achieve what you need. What do you need to support your health, home, family, career, hobbies…???

It is important to pursue Artha in the boundaries of dharma, without resorting to unethical or harmful means. Choosing occupations and livelihood that are ethical, sustainable and aligned to your values (yamas & niyamas) that don’t harm others, the environment and contribute positively to society.

When we do acquire artha, practicing non-attachement to material possessions and wealth is also advised, viewing wealth as a means to support your dharma. And in the ethical and philosophical texts that discuss Artha, it suggests that the Yogi should avoid unnecessary debt, live within one’s means, and abstain from extravagant, indulgence or wasteful expenses. Cultivating an attitude of gratitude for what you have, appreciating the richness beyond the material possessions and practice being content with what is.

Along with the practice of non-attachment, it is also advised to engage in selfless service (karma yoga) offering the fruits of your actions to others. To give back to society through acts of charity or philanthropy by supporting causes aligned to your values, contributing to the welfare of the less fortunate. This in my experience provides more meaning to my life, belonging and connection guiding me deeper into understanding my dharma. 

Now what you have or don’t have might not be just up to you. Yogis understand that the pursuit of Artha is not solely dependent on one’s effort, but influenced by karma. Accepting and trusting the outcomes of your endeavours is the path of the adhikara, that you wholeheartedly bravely face whatever comes into your life, remembering what is important, your tools, knowing the truth of reality and making clear choices align to your moral and spiritual aspirations. And see that everything is a teacher, listening to that whispering wisdom within to guide you, ensuring the pursuit of prosperity remains a supportive aspect to the Yogic journey.

To applying it to our practice today, our bodies are the means and tool to do our lives well, to fulfil our purpose today. Through our practice we maintain a strong, flexible and well-balanced body creating the container for our energy, Prana. As we move, breathe and preform asana we reawaken the energy body finding ways to ignite the life force within. Finally, we manage the mind and emotional body, creating clarity to accurately see and make discerning choices that align to what matters to us most today, what does our soul long for and fuelling the drive to fulfil our humanly desires.

Peak pose is bakasana, heron pose, which is an arm balance. In Yoga Sutra 2.46 it states, to practice Asana you just need two things, Sthira – Steadiness and Sukham – Comfort. Patanjali’s purpose of asana was to be steady and comfortable in the posture to meditate. Any posture.

The next suggestion was from Yoga Sutra 2.47 which states how to master Asana. Be in a posture where there is structural integrity and a sense of ease. Then create effort by meditating on something specific, becoming more effortless. Pointing the practitioner to train the mind to rest it’s awareness on something, leading it to stillness. Stillness is the goal of the activity of practicing Yoga-Asana, stated in Yoga Sutra 1.2 Citta Vritti Nirodha, stilling the fluctuations of the mind to then enter the state of Yoga. Hatha Yogis figured out that if you created activity on the levels of the body, energy and mind, it increases one’s access to stillness, quietude and being motionless. So create effort to become effortless!

The good thing is that Patanjali listed things that you can focus on in Yoga Sutra 1.34 -1.44. However, we will focus on Yoga Sutra 1.34 breath awareness, 1.35 sensation, and finally 1.36 light.

Yoga Sutra 2.48 states the results in practicing this way is that the pair of opposites cease to exist or have an impact. The Yogi goes beyond duality! Unimpeded freedom from suffering, due to the pairs of opposites such as heat and cold, good and bad, or pain and pleasure or any life circumstances affecting the state the Yogi awakens to.

We will also focus on hasta/hand bandha and padha/foot bandha.