A Missing Piece

by Aranyakananda

In Hinduism, there is a list of four steps toward a fully-realized life. I am not aware of any particular order that they necessarily go in, though some seem self-evident. The list is kama (love, sexual pleasure, and emotional pleasure), artha (material and financial prosperity), dharma (moral righteousness, sense of duty) and moksha (liberation from bodily/material entrapment.

Contrary to John Lennon’s claim, one needs much more than love.

Though the first two and possibly the third could quite easily make the fourth very difficult. The first three are known as the trivarga, “human pursuits.” Alas this is the list. But I would argue that the last two are clearly set apart from the first two. Dharma and Moksha are spiritual pursuits while artha and kama are more carnal.

Artha and Kama are basic needs, a starting point toward dharma and Moksha, which are of the highest importance.

But none of these pursuits clearly includes self-preservation. Sure, love sustains us through thick and thin, and money can buy a sense of security. And recognition of one’s Self as Brahman may fit into the category of dharma and it obviously aids one in the pursuit of Moksha. But I am talking about something different.

What I am talking about is just the maintainence of the body. Prevention of breakdown, preventive care as it were. Where do you think preservation and care for one’s own body fits in this list? Where does it fit in relation to artha and kama, for example? I’ll put it that way since it is self-evident to me where Moksha and Dharma rest.

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One Response to A Missing Piece

  1. Dhrishti says:

    “Where do you think preservation and care for one’s own body fits in this list? Where does it fit in relation to artha and kama, for example?” – Mostly, primarily Kama, although there’s definitely an element of Artha in that self-preservation, too.

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