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The Wisdom of Ayurveda: The 4 Goals of Life

by Jonathan Glass, LAc, MAc

Ayurveda, the knowledge of life, is a vast, deep, and practical science of health for the body, mind and soul. Practically every holistic practice and even many allopathic practices (such as surgery and diagnostic testing) will find their roots in Ayurveda.

The goal of Ayurveda is to provide a comprehensive health system that combines the best in health care for the body and mind while enhancing our self awareness and realization.

In this context, the ancient rishis or mystic medicine men and women, provided simple yet profound principles and knowledge that assist all human beings to maintain health while achieving their goals.

These goals of life are not considered selfish, irrelevant, or circumstantial, but are an inherent

quality of being human. By knowing, understanding and accepting these goals, we accept our selves and others while creating greater happiness and success for our selves and the world.

What are the 4 Goals of Life?

The first goal of life is called Dharma. Dharma has many translations, and is typically understood as living your life purpose. Dharma more accurately indicates the inherent quality in a person or object. For instance, the dharma of fire is heat and light. Fire will always have this quality no matter what. The dharma of water is liquidity. In Ayurveda the dharma of the soul in general is to serve or give of ourselves, with love. Our individual dharma refers to the unique way in which we serve or give of ourselves in life. It is discovered by honoring our gifts, nature, body type, tendencies and abitilties. Simply, dharma means to be ourselves. The ancient scripture from India, the Bhagavad Gita, says that it is better to be yourself imperfectly than be like someone else perfectly. Living our dharma is essential for happiness. We may have mini-dharmas throughout our lives such as parenting, yet we all do have essential qualities which we all need to express in order to be satisfied with our lives. To discover our dharma can take a whole life of difficult experiences trying to be something we are not, or can be discovered more effortlessly when we learn from our experiences and listen to our higher wisdom and inner quidance.

The second goal of life is called Artha. Artha means security. We all desire a certain degree of security in our lives. This means having a safe roof over our head and enough food to eat. Generally, especially in the west, it also means having a secure job and enough money to pay for meeting the needs of our lives and the lives of our families. Artha is connected to the first charka, known as the survival charka. Balanced security in our lives creates a foundation for us to grow spiritually. The goal for security can become imbalanced in both directions. If we crave more money and things than we actually need to fulfill our dharma, our lives become imbalanced, limited and selfish. On the other hand, if we deny, ignore, or judge as non spiritual, the appropriate acquisition of money and necessities, we can become overly dependent on others, insecure, frustrated and may not be able fulfill our dharma or life purpose. By accepting this as an essential goal of life, we become responsible for our lives and are simultaneously able to fulfill our needs.

The third goal of life is called Kama. Kama means enjoyment or pleasure. Therefore, a common goal with all beings is the need for pleasure pertaining to the body and mind. Kama has been debated throughout the ages within various religions and cultures, with often extreme conclusions. Some say the restriction of all bodily pleasure is needed in order to realize our spiritual identity, to love God, to be loved by God, to avoid sin, or to attain nirvana. The other extreme of course is the hedonism which implies any pleasure is fine even if it means hurting yourself or others in order to get it. Ayurveda has a balanced perspective on pleasure. We all need it to a healthy degree to keep body and mind in balance. The type and amount of pleasure is determined by the constitutional body type, age, stress levels, sex and health. The basic principle is to have a balanced amount of pleasure and recreation in life. This helps to keeps us healthy and vibrant while fulfilling our dharma. If pleasure becomes too much of a focus, or if repression disturbs the mind, then we will not be able to fully express ourselves, our gifts, our dharma.

The fourth and final goal of life is called moksha. Moksha means freedom or liberation. We all want to be free physically, mentally, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. As spirit souls we are free in our natural state. Moksha generally refers to the ultimate freedom of spiritual liberation. According to the teachings of ayurveda and yoga, the nature of the soul is eternal pure beingness, fully conscious and blissful. When this realization within us becomes steady, we achieve moksha or true freedom. The vedic teachings on moksha speak of different expressions of ultimate spiritual freedom, thus there are different religions and spiritual practices in the world. The fullest experience of moksha is knowing, feeling, and expressing our true essence, our divine identity, with deep love. When we do this we will find it easy to fulfill our dharma. When we are inwardly free and living our life purpose we are being ourselves. In fact, the Bhagavad Gita says that it is impossible to spiritually grow if we are not ourselves. While the other 3 goals of life have to do primarily with this life, moksha, or true soul freedom, carries on with us after this life.


The mystic healers of the past understood, as many of us do today, that health of body/mind must include a balance of fulfilling our earthly needs and our spiritual needs. We are now constantly seeing studies confirming the knowledge of the ancients. The wisdom of balance in diet and lifestyle according to our nature along with honoring the four goals of life, will bring health, happiness and prosperity in this life and the next.

For more information on Ayurveda, health and fulfilling your life purpose contact Jonathan Glass, Ayurvedic Practitioner and Master Acupuncturist. Jonathan is also the founder of the Total Life Cleanse and the Healing Essence Center in West Concord Ma. He can be reached at 978-369-9228, jglass108@aol.com or www.totallifecleanse.com .

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