Friday, January 25, 2013

Purusharta, purpose of the soul

In yoga class we were asked to keep a journal, mainly for personal use and documentation of our own growth.  I bought a very pretty journal, a very pretty empty journal.  I decided that instead of writing down my actual journal assignments in my bound journal, I would share them in my blog.  I will of course keep my pretty journal for a more personal use on my journey.

In yoga there are four aims or desires of life according the the Vedas.  Collectively these aims are known as Purusharta, or, the purpose of the soul.  Yes people, I am talking about the purpose of life!  Keep your britches on kids, it's a lot more simple than one would think, in fact there are no secrets here, simply questions.  These questions find their answers deep within each individual, there is no overall purpose, each is particular to its own soul.

1.  Dharma- the desire to become who you were meant to be, or to fulfill your destiny.  To find your path so that you may live in harmony with the universe.

So how does one know what they are 'meant' to be doing?  Here are a few key questions that I will answer as if teaching yoga and remaining theatrical were my purpose in life.

-Is it joyful?  Yes I take joy and pleasure in teaching and practicing as well as acting.
-Do others benefit?  Yes, they benefit from my teaching in health and mind, and I am able to entertain and tell stories through my acting.
-Is is sustainable?  Yes, yoga can be taught and practiced for a lifetime and so can acting.
-Do you feel guided and protected?  Yes, I feel that my family, friends and teachers have supported me on both my acting and yogic journey in an unconditional way.  I feel nothing but security.
-Do you experience both growth and gratitude?  Are you challenged?  Absolutely.  Yoga is very difficult, both in body and mind, especially the harnessing of my ever chattery mind.  Every time I come to my mat I am challenged and every time I leave my mat I have done something I could not before and thus have grown.  Acting is similar in the sense that it too is a harnessing of the mind, but more so the emotions.  It is a constant ebb and flow, a challenge and a release, a fight and a win.  So yes I do feel gratitude after progressing on each path (acting and yoga) after they have presented me with a challenge.

2.  Arta- the material means to fulfill your dreams i.e.  food, shelter, security, health, perseverance etc.  I could not do yoga without feeding my body, giving it sleep, clothing it and having the means to do so.

3. Kama- the 'pleasure sutra' the desire for pleasure of all kinds i.e., art, music, food, friends, sex, etc.  We desire to do well and to feel good while we're at it.

4.  Moksha- liberation, freedom.  This is the end of all suffering of the soul.  Our goal in life, and for others, after life, is to end the suffering of the soul and body.  This is the ultimate meaning in every ones life.  To reduce suffering and promote happiness, after all, isn't that what everyone does on a day to day basis?  We work to have money so that we can  pay rent and buy food.  We pay rent and buy food to sustain us and keep us alive (Arta).  We also make money so that we can do things that we enjoy, like see our friends and family, go to the movies, go to concerts or just stay home and read (Kama).  And we surround ourselves with our loved ones and the things we love to support us on our journey to do what we love to do.  For most of us, that thing is just a hobby, it brings us in no money so it is not sustainable.  We repeat this cycle over and over again, never reaching Moksha.  For other people, it is a career or at the very least, they have found some way to balance it and make it sustainable, thus completing the cycle and find what they were meant to do (Dharma) and finding their way toward Moksha, or close to it anyway.  Now does this mean that if I do not become Meryl Streep that I will never be liberated in this life because I am not doing what I am meant to be doing?  No.  The truth is, we have no idea what we are 'meant' to be doing.  We simply tend do things because they make us happy.  The trick is find that 'thing,' that drives you with passion and challenges and allows you to move it to make you and your world stronger.  That's when you know, or you get damn close anyway.

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