"The essential part of the teachings of Buddha now forms an integral part of Hinduism. (...) It is my fixed opinion that the teaching of Buddha found its full fruition in India, and it could not be otherwise, for Gautama was himself a Hindu of Hindus. He was saturated with the best that was in Hinduism, and he gave life to some of the teachings that were buried in the Vedas and which were overgrown with weeds. (...) Buddha never rejected Hinduism, but he broadened its base. He gave it a new life and a new interpretation." Mahatma Gandhi
In meditation today we performed an exercise that perhaps you found was difficult. We were supposed to utilize the power of our memory to review the facts of our thoughts, emotions, and impulses, yet remain objective, indifferent, like an investigator or scientist. While recollecting our memories of these internal states (not the external circumstances), we also used the mantra RA OM GA OM mentally, not aloud, so that the mind would have something to keep it busy (like a dog chewing on a bone). In this way, with the mind busy with its mantra, the consciousness could then review the memories without the mind becoming distracted.
Thus, we investigated our memories of recent days (or even our whole life, if we are capable to doing so), to see the facts of our thoughts, emotions, and impulses, our tendencies and habits, and in general to see how thought, feelings, and impulses emerge and provoke our behaviors.
When the instructions for the meditation were given, we said that this was a difficult exercise to do. For most people, this is too difficult, because they do not have sufficient concentration, and instead of remaining objective and impersonal (unemotional, unattached), they become distracted by the memories, and fall into thinking, emotions, dreaming, etc. For these people we recommend studying our meditation courses to learn how to concentrate effectively.
The purpose of the exercise is to put together an inventory of what we have within. We need a factual point of view of ourselves. We need to see not the way we think we are or the way that we believe that we are, but the facts: about our mind, about our experience of life, about how we think and how we feel and the impulses that we feel that provoke us to act.
An objective, factual inventory is absolutely priceless, because it reveals to us why we suffer. It also reveals to us how to change.
Let me specify that this inventory is not something written down. Instead, it is something known by experience and observation. When you consciously become aware of a thought pattern or emotional habit, you do not need that written down anywhere. It would be like writing down, “I get hungry.” You know you get hungry by observation and awareness, not by any list. Similarly, you will get to know yourself by observation and awareness: by becoming aware of patterns you did not see before. Making a list does not make you conscious.
To give us some clues to help us develop this inventory, today's lecture will be about the purpose of life.
All beings, all creatures, without any exception, need purpose. All of us crave to know our purpose, why we are alive, what is the point, what are we supposed to do. The urgency that we feel, particularly when we are young, can be overwhelming, even deeply painful.
The urge to know our reason for being is very deep. Sadly, our society does not help us to answer that question accurately. Instead, we are told we should imitate others. We are told that we should become a doctor or a lawyer and get rich and only then will we be happy. If you know any doctors or lawyers, you know this isn't true. If you know any rich people you know this isn't true.
Many people turn to tradition to find the answer to this question. They turn to religion or great philosophers to try to answer the question of ‘Why are we here, why are we alive, what is the purpose?’ There is an answer to these questions, and I hope that from today's discussion you will find the way to answer it.
In Hinduism, the purpose of life is explained through what are called purusharthas.
Before we explain what this word means, we need to remember that Hinduism is one of the oldest religions in the world, and it is the root of Buddhism. All of Buddhism is just an expansion of Hinduism; to truly understand Buddhism, you must understand Hinduism.
"The essential part of the teachings of Buddha now forms an integral part of Hinduism. (...) It is my fixed opinion that the teaching of Buddha found its full fruition in India, and it could not be otherwise, for Gautama was himself a Hindu of Hindus. He was saturated with the best that was in Hinduism, and he gave life to some of the teachings that were buried in the Vedas and which were overgrown with weeds. (...) Buddha never rejected Hinduism, but he broadened its base. He gave it a new life and a new interpretation." —Mahatma Gandhi
All religions have a common root, and that to understand any religion, we need to go to that common root. We call that root Gnosis, which is a Greek word that means knowledge. But it doesn't mean theoretical knowledge or knowledge that we have been told or knowledge that we have heard. Instead, gnosis means knowledge that we have acquired through experience. Gnosis is truth, reality.
No matter where you were born in the world, you have gnosis through your own experience of certain things. For instance, you know that to stay alive, you need food, water, and air. You need certain things to sustain life at a bare minimum, and that is a kind of Gnosis. You do not have to think about it. It just is the way that it is. That fundamental truth can be known of divinity, too, and all religions are ultimately derived from it, because all religions originally began from the experience of sages, saints, prophets, and masters who were teaching from their own experience what we need to do to have the same experience that they had. that is all that Gnosis as a tradition tries to convey to us: What can we do to have Gnosis of divinity of God, of Heaven, of other dimensions, and most importantly: what is within ourselves?
We study that in this image that we call the tree of life, which is the basis of Kabbalah, which is known in the West. It symbolizes the same reality that is represented in Hinduism and Buddhism in other ways with other terms, but the same truth.
In Hinduism, the purpose of life is defined in the old scriptures, the Vedas, as purusharthas.
This word purushartha is really important in Hinduism. You can define it and interpret it in a variety of ways. Nowadays people call it “the desires of life.” That is not what the word actually means, and is quite far from its root, objective meaning.
Purusha means “supreme being, supreme self.” Divinity. It can also mean “person, being, soul, spirit, human being, a person, or a people.”
Purusha has many levels of interpretation, many potential meanings, but the ultimate meaning is the inner self, the supreme self, divinity, God.
The second part of purushartha is artha, and it literally means “meaning, purpose.”
Importantly, purushartha is “the meaning or purpose of the supreme being.” You see, that is quite far from “the desires of life,” the common definition. The meaning of the supreme being, God, divinity, Atman, Brahma, Christ, Krishna, or any divinity that you want to name there... Purushartha is about the meaning of that.
We have divinity within us, which is our inner Purusha. Our Purusha has a purpose, a reason to be, and since we are a part of that, we have a purpose, too. We have meaning, in relation with divinity, but we do not know what it is.
Following this onward, we can see that all beings, all living things, have divinity within them, thus everything has purpose, meaning, each at their own level.
When you look at purushartha in this way, you can understand that each being at each level of life mapped on this image of the tree of life is going to experience and discover purpose, reason for being, at their level. The tree of life symbolizes all the dimensions of nature, from the third dimension that we perceive around us, and also the fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh dimensions, all of which are populated with life. Sadly, we do not perceive that, because of the condition of our mind.
All living things have importance and purpose. They have purpose in relation with divinity, and they also have purpose in relation with nature. These are not the same.
All living things are part of the beautiful, sophisticated, elaborate structure of nature. They all fulfill a purpose and a role at their level. We think that we are more important than bees and butterflies and fish and animals and plants, but in terms of nature we are not. In terms of nature, we are part of the same machine. We are “mechanical” beings (instinctive, automatic) performing functions that we are not really aware of.
From a purely instinctive level, our physical bodies are just transformers of energy that sustain life on this planet. We consume, destroy, and release matter. We convert matter to energy, just like the plants do, just like the animals do, just like the minerals do. So as a physical organism, we have a purpose in nature and that is all. Human beings are born, grow up, consume matter, transform matter into energy, which sustains nature, and then they die. As far as nature is concerned, that is our role. Nature doesn't care about anything beyond that for us. Our ideas about art and God and divinity are completely meaningless in terms of nature. Nature only cares about the balance of nature. So within mechanical nature, all creatures have artha, meaning and purpose in terms of nature, but that is not related to divinity. That is different.
Physically, our purpose in nature is just to transform energy. Psychologically, spiritually, we also have a purpose, but none of us know what it is. We are ignorant of that. We may believe in a religious, political, or creative purpose. We may believe that our purpose is to be a parent or an artist or a business person. But that doesn't mean that is our true purpose. Purushartha is meaning and purpose in regard to divinity. We have divinity within us, thus have a divine purpose that comes from that divinity. We do not know what it is, and often our interest in religion and meditation and spirituality is the urgency to answer that question: What is our purpose? What is divinity? What is God?
Spiritual longing is how divinity calls us to find our true purpose.
Spiritual longing is how divinity attracts us towards discovering the meaning of our life.
Hinduism divides Purushartha into four: Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. Any Hindu on the street can explain this to you. They know these things. They learn these things when they are young. But the Westerners who are interested in yoga and tantra have no idea about this, so we want to explain it so that you understand.
The Four Purusharthas
Some call this the four desires, some say the four aims or the four meanings. Really, Purushartha is a very deep subject. To really understand it, you have to reflect very deeply on your life and on yourself.
To begin, we will define these words for you so you can understand what they mean in general, then we will go deeper.
The first one is Dharma. Commonly on the street by the average person, Dharma is interpreted to mean righteousness or morality. When you go from place to place, group to group, and religion to religion, morality changes. What certain people find moral, others find immoral. In certain religions, they teach their children that it is okay for you to kill people of other religions. In other religions it is taught that you shouldn't kill anyone. In some cultures, it is taught that you can kill whoever you want. In fact, in some cultures they say killing is fun, and offer games you can play that teach you how fun it is to kill people. So, morality is subjective.
Morality is cultural. Morality changes. Morality is not Dharma. The common interpretation that people have of Dharma as morality is mistaken. Dharma is not morals. Dharma is much, much deeper.
We are going to talk more in detail about each of these terms in a moment. But first I want to give you the idea of these four.
The common person says artha is wealth. They say that the purpose of being alive is to acquire wealth, to have success, to have a marriage and a house and children; that is to have the ideal life according to that culture.
They say that the kama is to have enjoyment, pleasure. That is the purpose of life for them: to fulfill one's desires. Naturally, included in that is sex.
The fourth is Moksha or liberation, or to go to heaven when you die.
In any culture in the world, the followers of the different spiritual and religious traditions believe in these purusharthas even if they do not know that word, because all the followers of all the different religions follow their morality (1), and they believe if they do what the church or the temple or the synagogue tells them (ie. follow their “dharma”), then God will give them the wealth (2) that they want and the situation in life that they want, they will have the prosperity that they want, and that God will give them a certain amount of enjoyment or fulfilment of desires (3) and let them have whatever kind of sex with their husband or wife that they want, and, in the end they will go to heaven (4) and that is it! Problem solved, end of story. That is all they have to do. This is the way common people wrongly interpret these terms.
This perspective is shared by people all over the world and is a very powerful current in society which says, “if you just follow the current, if you just go along with all of us, in the end, you are going to go to heaven anyway, so you might as well enjoy yourself.” This is what the people think. This is deeply mistaken and it is a very superficial interpretation of these words. So, we are going to go into the real meanings. We are going to analyze what these terms actually mean and what they actually tell us.
Dharma is Truth
This is the first and most important of the purusharthas. The ultimate meaning of Dharma is “that which upholds,” that which supports, even “that which raises.” You can also interpret it as “law, statute, virtue, devotion, good works, religion, righteousness, etc.” Dharma in synthesis means to do good action: to know what that action is, and to do it.
So it is to be a righteous person. Within Judaism, that is called tzadik: someone who is righteous, someone who is upright, who acts rightly. In Buddhism, this is someone who uses right effort, right action to act properly, to do what is good, to not create suffering, to instead act in a way that brings happiness to others and to oneself.
Dharma in this sense has a very rich usage in Asian cultures. It is very difficult to pin down a simple definition for it. We can say that when you perform a good action, you will acquire dharma. You will get dharma for that. That means the results of your good action. So if you behave right, that is dharma, and the consequences of that right action are also dharma. And the teaching that explains that is also dharma. So you see, it is a very rich word, very multifaceted.
In Hinduism it said,
“Satyam vada, dharmam chara.”
This means “speak the truth, do what is right.” This is a very profound statement, and we talk about it in Gnosticism as being one of the commandments, but not written in the Bible. It is related with the 11th Arcanum.
Satyam vada, dharmam chara: speak the truth, Do what is right. We can synthesize that as “do your duty.”
This raises the question: do you know what your duty is? Most people do not. Most people inherit ideas of morality and purpose from parents, school, and religion, and just follow those wrong interpretations of dharma. They assume that if you go along with the flow of society, you get your education, you get married, you have kids, you follow your religion, you die, you go to heaven. That is not dharma; that is not to do your duty. That is to be a pasture animal like a sheep or a cow, to just go with the herd, wherever the herd is going. Even though the herd is going into the slaughterhouse, you just go along because that is what all the other animals are doing. That may be the duty of an animal headed to slaughter. That is not the duty of a human being.
The duty of a human being is towards oneself, towards others, and towards divinity. To know that duty is a very deep, individual thing. You cannot write it in a maxim. It has to be something that you know as gnosis, something you know through experience.
Jesus taught duty, Dharma, in this beautiful passage.
"You shall love the Kyrios your Theos with all your kardias, and with all your psyche, and with all your dianoia, and with all your ischys.” —Mark 12:30
He said that is the greatest commandment. Of course, in English, people say “you shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart and with all of your soul and with all of your mind and with all of your strength.” That is the common English translation. But as we explained in the previous lecture about finding your master, those Greek words have very deep implications.
This is the first commandment, and it is a beautiful expression of Dharma, to love the master, your God who is inside of you, to devote yourself entirely towards divinity is the ultimate principle of Dharma. To find your true Purusha, your Self, your Innermost, your Being.
Immediately after that he said the second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself. In other words, to love the divinity in others in the same way you love your own divinity. To see past the faults of others and to understand them, to not be critical of others, to not see others as enemies or as competitors, but as reflections of divinity.
We see ourselves and others with a very animal mind. We see others as threats, competitors. We see others as less than us or worse than us. We do not see divinity in other people. We do not see divinity in ourselves, and we do not see divinity in others. But those are the greatest commandments and the greatest reflections of Dharma: to see divinity in all things, to always be aware of divinity in yourself, and always be aware of divinity in others. With that attitude, you begin to practice this: “You shall love the Kyrios your Theos with all your kardias” — everything you have. That is Dharma. This is not a theory. It is something that has to be engaged in us in a continual way, using the consciousness with a profound awareness, an awareness of ourselves and awareness of others, a very consistent and powerful awareness. So that is real Dharma.
When you are aware of divinity in yourself, and you know divinity is here and now in you and aware of you and part of you, you cannot be proud, lustful, angry, or envious, because you are seeing and sensing divinity. Those qualities can't be in the same space. As soon as you allow a desire, an ego, a defect to enter into your mind, divinity leaves. They cannot mix. That which is pure cannot be mixed with that which is impure, because if it mixes, it is no longer pure. Divinity is always pure, and to feel the presence of divinity in us, we must become pure.
If you read these descriptions and you study what Dharma is, it isn't about how you appear to be. You may appear to be kind, patient, generous, but no one can see what is really in your heart and mind except you and God. Real Dharma is how you are in your mind, not how you appear to yourself or others.
“What truly counts in these studies is the manner in which human beings behave internally and invisibly with one another. Unfortunately, and even if we were very courteous and even sincere at times, there is no doubt that invisibly and internally we treat each other very badly. People who are apparently very generous drag their fellow men daily into the secret caves of themselves to do with them whatever they please (abuse, mockery, contempt, etc.).” —Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
God sees that, divinity sees that. That is what is the measure of a person: the contents of the mind. that is why we did that inventory today, for us to start studying and being honest about it, honestly looking at the content, the character of our psychology, not the way we tell ourselves that we are, but the way that we actually are.
“Therefore, all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.” - Matthew 7:12
The second Purushartha is Artha and that means “meaning, purpose” but it also can mean “desire, wish, aim, profit, wealth, motive, reason, cause.” The average person reads that list of definitions and immediately picks “desire” as the best one, because everyone wants to fulfill their desires and everyone wants God to agree with their desires and fulfill them. that is what our prayers are all about, “give me this, give me that.”
Artha means “meaning.” So if the first Purushartha, or purpose of life is Dharma to become truly ethical, upright, then the second is to find real meaning, real purpose.
We do not find real purpose by fulfilling desires, even though that is what humanity and society believes. A desire, a craving, can never ever be satisfied. This is one of the oldest passages of any scripture in the world and the laws of Manu.
“Desire cannot be satisfied, just as surely as a fire cannot be extinguished by continually giving it fuel.” —Laws of Manu
The desire is like the fire. The more you feed it, the bigger it gets. That is the nature of desire. It is a constant appetite, a hunger that can never be sated. That is why all religions say you must conquer desire, eliminate desire, overcome desire, become free of desire.
The curious thing is that both the second and third purusharthas can mean “desire.” This is a cause for much confusion, because we are easily manipulated by the illusions of desire. We need to become aware of the reality of desire.
Artha truly means “purpose, meaning.” If we think that our real purpose of being alive is simply to accumulate wealth, that is very sad because you will lose all of it when you die or when the government takes it, whichever comes first. Someone will take everything you have, because when you die you lose it. This is one of saddest misconceptions that people have. We have no knowledge of what lies beyond the doorway of death. And because of that, that ignorance, we think mistakenly “Well, before I die, I better acquire as much as I can, accumulate as much as I can.” Many believe that there's meaning to that, but there isn't. It doesn't matter how wealthy you are, it doesn't extend your life or your happiness. Recently a very wealthy and very well known man died of cancer. His wealth, fame, did not extend his life, did not deepen his happiness. He lost everything. He spent his whole life building fame and wealth only to lose it. What a waste. How is their purpose in that? If you are just going to lose it all and gain nothing by it ultimately. And that is why Jesus in the Gospels:
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures [wealth, artha] upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your kardia [heart, mind, soul] be also.” —Matthew 6
Do you want your heart, mind, and soul to be in heaven? Then do not invest them in physical possessions. Instead, focus on investing into heaven, ouranos. That is the deeper meaning of Artha.
When you take the first purushartha, Dharma, seriously, and you act rightly, you act properly for yourself and for others, you act out of love and out of generosity, you do good actions, meaning you are truly ethical, not just moral, but ethical. You do right things. You are honest, sincere, generous, patient. The result of dharma is that you acquire the second purushartha: artha, wealth, profit from your good actions. It may not be financial wealth, but you acquire the goodwill of others, the love of others, the respect of others, the gratitude of others, the admiration of others, the protection of others. Aren't those more valuable than dollars in the bank? Isn't love ultimately what we really want? To be loved, cared for, appreciated, valued. Money doesn't give you that. Money makes you hated and envied, gossiped about. But when you do right, you earn honest respect. That is real Artha.
Moreover, when you do right, you gain wealth in heaven. In other words, you gain Dharma, the positive outcome of those actions, and that is real wealth. That is an accumulation of capital, but not physically.
In Christianity, we find Jesus taught about this. He said,
“…take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the ethnos [multitudes] seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of Theos, and his dikaiosynē [dharma]; and all these things shall be added unto you.” —Matthew 6
It says in English, “but seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.” But this word righteousness is English, and in Greek it says dikaiosynē. When you read the definition of dikaiosynē, it means “the condition acceptable to God, the doctrine concerning the way in which man may attain a state approved of by God.” It means “integrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness, correctness of thinking, feeling and acting.” That is Dharma, but named in Greek. Jesus was teaching Dharma. Jesus explains that if you first seek the kingdom of Theos, which:
“...behold, the kingdom of Theos is within you.” —Luke 17:21
“But seek ye first the kingdom of Theos [which is within you], and his dikaiosynē [dharma, by rectifying the contents of your kardias]; and all these things [artha] shall be added unto you.”
It is a simple equation. Do not chase after material things. Seek divinity first, and when you do what is right, divinity gives you what you need. But when you do not seek divinity and you just chase after pleasures, comforts, and security, you just wind up suffering.
The third purushartha is kama.
This painting depicts the divinity called Kama or Kamadeva. Kama rides on a parrot, and has a bow and arrow. The bow is made of flowers. The arrows made of flowers and the string is made of bees. So, what do you think of when you think of the birds and the bees? Obviously, Kama is a sexual symbol. In Hinduism, Kama is the god of love, the god of desire. Kama is the exact same symbol as the Greek Cupid, Eros, which is where we get the word erotic. Eros represents Christ. It was only later that Eros degenerated into something impure, which we explained in a previous lecture. Kama has the same significance, levels of meaning, since kama, sex, can be pure or impure. That is why in the Bible in Genesis, Moses described it as “the tree of knowledge of goodness and impurity.” That knowledge, Daath in Hebrew, is dual. Sexuality is dual. It can create, it can destroy. That is the role of Eros, Kama, and is also the role here the purushartha related with kama.
Most common people when they talk about the purusharthas or the goals or purposes of life, talk about kama as worldly enjoyment, pleasure, the fulfillment of desires. Since they believe that artha is about the accumulation of wealth and materialism, they also believe kama is about the fulfillment of the desires for sensations. Obviously, someone who just wants to get rich, once that money and wealth, so they can indulge their senses, so they can have all the finest things and eat the finest foods and surround themselves with all the pleasures of the world. So, they want artha and kama to feed their desires.
Yet, Artha and Kama have positive and negative implications.
If our interests are truly upright, then our interest in artha and kama will be related with the needs of our inner purusha, (spirit, self, Being), the needs of the soul, of the consciousness. Our interest in artha would be about accumulating the results of good actions, accumulating things in heaven, wealth in heaven, things that are superior to physicality. Kama is also that way. Real kama is about acquiring enjoyments, pleasures related with the soul, with the consciousness, not with senses, not with sensual desires, but with the longings of the heart, the longings of the consciousness. And that is the role Kama, Eros, Christ plays.
Our kardias, our consciousness, has longings (“desires”): it longs for divinity. It longs to know its purpose, its meaning. It longs for love, connection, fulfillment. These are normal, natural. But we confuse them with sensual desires. Seeking meaning, purpose, we fall into the traps of vanity, pride, envy, materialism. Seeking love, we fall into the trap of lust.
In the Bhagavad Gita, it is said:
“Triple is the gate of the hell destructive of the self (kama, wrath, and greed). Therefore, let man renounce these three.”
This is what Krishna tells Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita. There are three ways for you to go to hell: lust, anger, greed. Kama is interpreted here as “lust.” Yet, kama is also the third purushartha, the third reason for being alive. So, this appears contradictory.
Krishna is saying kama leads you to hell, but the Vedas are saying kama leads you to heaven. How do you resolve the contradiction?
Like the first two purusharthas (dharma and artha), kama has a very rich significance. It can mean desire, but what kind of desire? It can mean impurity, but it can also simply mean imagination or pleasure, wish. It can mean also the entity of semen itself, the creative energy, the sexual force, not just in men, but in women. That is the power of kama: it is in sex. But that sexual power can be used for good or for harm. That is why we study the tree of knowledge of goodness and impurity.
Moses made this very clear in the book of Genesis in the story of Adam and Eve, but you can only really see it by studying the Hebrew letters and Kabbalah. In synthesis, Adam and Eve used the sexual force wrongly and brought about suffering. They were cast out of Eden. Eden in Hebrew means “bliss, happiness.” So, by the misuse of sexual pleasure, they experienced suffering. But with the proper use of sexuality, one can rise out of suffering. That is the dual significance of kama.
That is also in the Bhagavad Gita. Krishna, who is the Christ of Hinduism, says in the Bhagavad Gita:
“I am kama which is unopposed to Dharma.”
Thus, by upright use of sex (kama and dharma united), we are working directly with Krishna, Christ.
He also says in the same book:
“Kill this powerful enemy, Kama, by the observance of Brahmacharya.”
So if you are not well educated in the teachings, this can sound full of contradictions. Firstly, he says kama leads you to hell, and he says he is kama, and he says destroy kama. So the person who is not educated can become very confused.
Krishna is a symbol that represents the Christic force that descends through the ray of creation and illuminates all the levels of existence. That force is the fire of life itself. It is the energy in all things that makes them alive. It is the radiance of being, the force of life. Its true nature is love as sacrifice, also symbolized by Jesus who sacrificed himself so that others may live. That is Christ, Krishna. Where do we find that power in us most acutely, most powerfully with the most significant influence over us on every level of our being? It is in sex. There is no question sex is the most potent, influential force that moves through us. That is Krishna. That is Christ, that force. That is why Krishna says, “I am Kama, which is unopposed to Dharma.” He is the force of Kama, Eros. The problem is that we have ego. We have lust, and that is Kama, inverted. In Christianity and Judaism that inverted sexual force is called Satan, Shaitan, “the adversary,” what is called in Latin Lucifer, “the bearer of light.” The light or fire of Christ illuminates and gives life, but in us — because of lust — it is inverted, flipped, made impure, fallen, descended, trapped. The Greeks called it Prometheus, the god who gave fire to humanity and was punished by the gods for it. Prometheus is Christ-Lucifer.
All of those symbols indicate how the creative power of God is in our sexual force, in our sexual energy, but because of the condition of our mind, it is inverted. It is dangerous, destructive. Yet it is also the clue that can free us from suffering. The way to do it is:
“Kill this powerful enemy Kama by the observance of Brahmacharya.”
That word means sexual continence, sexual purity. It is to learn to use the sexual force for spiritual purposes, not for the fulfillment of sensual pleasure. It is called Tantra. It is called Alchemy, sexual transmutation. And that is why the mythology of Krishna clearly displays a sexual love for his wife. That was also in Christianity until the church cut it out. Jesus was also married. Jesus had a wife and loved his wife in the same way Krishna loved his wife.
The fourth purushartha is moksha. This is translated simply as liberation, emancipation, freedom, deliverance, salvation, which is what all religions promise.
All religions say “if you follow our religion, you will be saved.” From what? From hell, from suffering, from pain. That is symbolized by the Bhavachakra. Some people call it the wheel of samsara.
Here you see all the classes of living beings who are recycling continually in transmigration. Driven by the consequences of their previous actions, they constantly repeat: they are born, they live, they repeat the consequences of their former actions, and they add to them by producing more mistaken actions. Because of that, when they die, the cycle has to repeat again and again. Unresolved consequences propel the wheel. Moksha ultimately is about being freed from the cycles of birth and death.
When you study these religions deeply, you understand that you cannot be liberated from the cycle in nature simply because you believe in something. You are liberated from a cycle in nature when you change the causes that produced the cycle.
Throughout the scriptures of Christianity, it is stated repeatedly that no adulterer, fornicator, liar, thief, or murderer can go to heaven. All the religious mythologies show that the way to become free from suffering and from the regions of hell is by destroying what binds you to it. that is the symbol of John the Baptist being beheaded, the symbol of Jesus being crucified, of Peter being crucified, of all the martyr's: we need the death of the ego, death of pride, death of lust, death of anger. When those elements are dead then what was trapped in them is freed. When the parts of ourselves that are trapped in them are freed, nothing binds us to hell any longer. We are only caught and bound to hell, to suffering, because of the actions that we ourselves produced. Until the consequences of those actions are satisfied and the causes of them are eliminated, that bondage will remain. That is all hell is for. The hell realms are real, but they are not eternal damnation or eternal punishment. They are just nature’s recycling plant. They are how divinity cleans souls who did not clean themselves. Once those souls are cleaned, they are pushed back into the wheel to try again, to try to become something more than just an animal, just a slave. There is no eternal damnation or eternal punishment; that notion is absurd, and was invented by people who wanted to keep their churches full. The suffering of hell is long and painful, but has a limit: when the ego is dead, there is no need for the soul to be in hell any more. Yet, it takes a long time for hell to clean the soul, and it is very painful, so it is best to avoid it. We can do so by finding real freedom and liberation now, by changing how we act, how we behave, and by destroying our defects ourselves.
The purusharthas are satisfied when we become an aptakama. In Sanskrit, aptakama means “a perfected being.” It can also be interpreted as "to be satisified, to be complete."
I want to point out something you may have already noticed about this word. Aptakama means someone who is perfect, yet half of that word is kama, which most people interpret as desire or lust. But an aptakama has no lust. They are perfect like Jesus or Krishna. We know that kama is sex, and we know that sex can be pure or impure. In us, our sexuality is impure because we have lust. A perfect being still has a sexual life, but pure, without lust. Thus, the kama in aptakama is pure. Kama (sex) should not be denigrated or seen as entirely evil. It is not. It is the force of nature that creates. Sex is a part of nature. It is natural. But there are many types of sexuality. The sexuality that humanity knows is animal, bestial, impure. The humanities that are not trapped in that have a different type of sexuality. Amongst pure beings, there is sexuality but not like ours. It is different. Aptakamas have kama (sex) pure, perfected.
The first part of aptakama is apta, which can mean “fulfilled, complete.” While the word is generally interpreted to mean a perfect being, it can equally be translated as “sex perfected, sex fulfilled, sex complete.” This is because the goal of our inner Being is to create a perfect soul, and that work is created through sex. When it is done, the ultimate goal of sex is completed. Thus, the word has levels of meaning.
To be an aptakama means someone who has fulfilled the purpose of life. They have reached it, they have fulfilled, they have completed it. And you see, kama is half of that word, which underscores the significance of sex.
Those are four purusharthas: Dharma, Artha Kama, Moksha. We have described their meanings. Dharma is to have ethics, purity, uprightness. Artha is to find genuine meaning, our true purpose, our real vocation.
Now about this, every one of us has a purpose. We have what we call a vocation a role, a purpose or reason why our divinity needs us to do something. But most of us do not know what that is. You discover it by knowing yourself. Not by theorizing, not by speculating, not by asking other people. It is by knowing yourself that you discover your true purpose. And when you find that, you find such happiness or fulfillment, a kind of contentment and a kind of inspiration that cannot be replaced by anything. Most people try to find purpose and meaning in getting an education or getting a job or getting famous or getting wealthy. But those are, you could say, diversions from their real craving, which is to know their true purpose of being alive. Your artha (purpose) is the thing that you were born to do. And when you find it, you will do it with such joy and perseverance and energy and enthusiasm. You won't care if it is difficult. You won't care if people hate you for it. You won't care if you are making zero money or making a lot of money. None of that will matter. that is all circumstantial. You only will care to do what you are doing. And we can look to some examples of that. Mozart was hearing music and would just write it down and that was his vocation. His purpose was to give you what he was hearing with so much enthusiasm and energy and to just make something beautiful for others.
Our own Artha, our own purpose is like that. It is to do something because we must do it and you can find a little similarity of it in the way a parent acts for their child. Because of love, a parent will immediately, without even thinking about it, always do what's best for the child. Without hesitation, without thought of “me, myself.” Whenever there's a decision to be made or something to be done, the parent just immediately acts —because of love — for the child at whatever cost. Finding your Artha is like that. It is a kind of action, a kind of motivation, a kind of movement that just must be done —because of love — for the benefit of others because it just must be done.
“In practical life, every human being serves a purpose; what is important is to know what purpose one serves. Thus, it is the duty of teachers to discover the vocation of every one of their students and to guide them accordingly. The one who, in life, works in accordance with his vocation, will work with true love and without ambition. Love must replace ambition. Vocation is that which we really like, it is that profession which we happily fulfill because it pleases us and is what we love to do… It is necessary to acquire vocational skills with the purpose of becoming useful to our fellowmen…
“When someone is totally convinced about the role that he has to perform in his existence, he then makes an apostleship, a religion out of his vocation, thus, becoming—as a fact and by his own right—an apostle for humanity.
“The one who knows his vocation, that is, the one who manages to discover it by himself, passes through a tremendous change. That one no longer seeks for success; little is his interest in money, fame, and gratitude. He finds bliss in the enjoyment granted by the fact of having responded to an intimate, profound, and unknowable call of his own internal Essence.
“The most remarkable fact of all this is that the vocational sense has nothing to do with the “I,” and even if this seems to be strange, the fact is that the “I” abhors our own vocation, because the “I” only craves for lucrative monetary earnings, position, fame, etc.
“The sense of vocation is something that belongs to our own inner Essence; it is something very internal, very profound, very intimate. Through the vocational sense, the Essence undertakes with true boldness and disinterest the most tremendous projects, risking all types of sufferings and Calvaries. Thus, this is why, it is hardly unusual that the “I” abhors the true vocation. Indeed, it is through the sense of vocation that we march along the path of legitimate heroism, even when we have to stoically endure all types of infamies, treacheries, and slander. When a human being can truthfully say, “I know who I am and what my true vocation is,” from that moment that individual will begin to live with true uprightness and love. Such types of people live in their work, and their work lives in them.
“Indeed, the people who with true sincerity of heart can talk like this are very few, since those who talk like this are the selected, the chosen ones, who developed their sense of vocation in a superlative degree. Thus, to find our true vocation is indubitably the most serious social problem; this indeed is the problem at the very foundation of all the problems of our society. To find or to discover our true, individual vocation is factually equal to the discovery of a very precious treasure.” - Samael Aun Weor, Fundamentals of Gnostic Education
Kama, the third, is divine sexuality, a type of purity, and its chief characteristic is genuine love, that also is marked by a genuine beauty, something divine, something inexpressible, something deeply beautiful. That is kama in the pure form. And that is what the mythology of Krishna is supposed to convey to us: the beauty of a divine, sexual love. That is one of the purposes of life, is to find that and experienced that. You begin by purifying your sexual life now: purge yourself of lust. Conserve your sexual energy, and dedicate it towards creating something new within you.
And fourth is the result of the first three: moksha, liberation from birth and death.
These are the real meanings of the purusharthas, the purposes of being alive.
How to Fulfill the Purusharthas
The purusharthas are a result of the first: Dharma. You cannot find meaning, divine sexuality, or liberation without Dharma. Dharma is the foundation. Dharma is everything.
That is why we say: do not focus on finding meaning (artha). Do not focus on finding a sexual partner, a marriage (kama). Do not focus on liberation from birth and death (moksha) as your main focus. Your entire focus should be on Dharma. Your main focus should be Dharma.
When you focus on dharma, “all these shall be added unto you.”
How do we focus on dharma?
Firstly, we study the teachings. You need to study the teachings deeply, become very well rounded in the teachings. You need to understand the path fully, not just bits and pieces of it. Primarily, you need to understand the two trees of the garden:
- The Tree of Life: wisdom. Laws, numbers, structures. This explains the structure of the Being, and is symbolized in Kabbalah, Tarot, runes, etc.
- The Tree of Knowledge: love. Sacred sexuality, alchemy, tantra.
“Every true cultural doctrine has to study in detail these two trees, because the study of one tree without the study of the other gives incomplete and useless knowledge.” —Samael Aun Weor
You need to know the teachings very deeply in order to practice them effectively. Oftentimes, students do not study and they lack certain details, thus become stagnant, or even become worse.
By knowing the teachings in depth, you can also see yourself better.
This is the second aspect: dharma in yourself. Remember, dharma also means uprightness, ethics. You have to study yourself, and change.
You must study the teachings in order to know how to act. This is how to focus on dharma.
You do not need to worry about the rest — Artha, Kama, Moksha — because those are just the outcomes of Dharma.
I know everyone wants to find their meaning, their Artha. Everyone wants to find their vocation, their purpose. Yes, of course, and everyone wants to find divine sexual, a beautiful love, a perfect marriage, “a soulmate” they call it. Of course everyone wants that. But when you focus on that, you lose sight of Dharma. When you are focused on your vocation, on your job, for example, or on your life, how you are going to live as a spiritual person in the world, you lose sight of Dharma. Or when you are focused just on Moksha, trying to liberate yourself from society in the world, you lose sight of Dharma.
Do not worry about Artha, Kama and Moksha. Do not worry about meaning, marriage, liberation or awakening in other worlds. Do not worry about that. Focus on Dharma. When you focus on dharma, the rest of the purusharthas come to you automatically.
Everyday, study the doctrine and study yourself. Do good actions. Everything else comes from that. That is what Jesus said. That is what Krishna said. And that is why in that old scripture, the laws of Manu it says
“Of all these Dharmas, the knowledge of the Self is the highest; it is, verily, the foremost of all sciences; for, by it, one attains immortality.” —Laws of Manu
So I'm not saying anything new. I'm only reminding you of what the most ancient scriptures say. The highest dharma is knowledge of self.
That is why we study the tree of life, a map of self. What do you know of this map? Not theoretically, not just being able to recite the terms and meanings. What do you know of it? What gnosis do you have of that chart? What do you know of yourself? How much gnosis do you have of yourself? Everybody wants to awaken in the astral world and travel in the astral world or travel in the mental world. Everybody wants to go and talk to the masters and the angels in the astral plane. But for you to do that, for you to travel in the astral world out there, you first must know the astral world in yourself. Do you? Are you awakened in your astral world in yourself? Do you have gnosis of that?
If you want to awaken in the internal worlds, you must first awaken in yourself here and now. If we cannot even be awake in the physical world here and now, we cannot be awakened in the internal worlds.
Awakening is a state of consciousness here and now, not later. It is now, in the moment. That is to be awake. Not later, not tomorrow, not next week, now, awake. And if you can sustain that awake observation, conscious, present, expansive, you can start to extend that into the internal worlds. So when I ask, “are you awake in the astral world?” I'm asking you, when your physical body is asleep and you go out of your physical body, are you awake or are you just dreaming? Because if you are dreaming, you are asleep. If you want to awaken in the astral world, awaken. And that begins now here in this moment. And for that awakening to deepen and expand, you must know yourself. You must know your mind, your heart, your body. You must know who it is bringing these thoughts, these feelings, these impulses. That is how you gather self-knowledge. That is the highest Dharma.
If you want to know the internal worlds, the Nirvana's, the heavens, the planes, whatever words you want to use, start with knowing yourself.
“Each person has their own inner life. Each person has their own inner worlds. If a person does not know their own inner world, their intimate life, even less will they know the inner worlds and the intimate life of the planet in which we live. And if one does not know the intimate life of the planet in which we live, one will not be able to know the inner life of our solar system, or of the galaxy that goes around Sirius, the central sun. So, if we want to know the inner life of the solar system or of the Earth, or of the galaxy, we must first start to know our own inner worlds.” —Samael Aun Weor
Questions and Answers
Audience: How would one know oneself?
Instructor: That is exactly the question. How do you know yourself? It is a difficult thing, isn't it? It is to use the consciousness to become conscious of oneself. that is how it begins. To be aware. When you are aware then you can acquire experience. If you are unaware, you cannot know. And our problem is we are not aware. We are dreaming. We are dreaming all night and we are dreaming all day. So if you want to know yourself first, you must be aware of yourself and watching. And you also have to study the teachings, because there is a lot to know about that. It sounds simple and in its essence it is simple. But because our mind is so complicated, we need a very good education. So we need to study the teachings of the Great Masters,
Audience: Is that studying the teachings by great masters by reading books?
Instructor: Yes, studying the teachings by reading books. And not only just reading them but reflecting on the meaning and putting it into practice. So it is good to read the books, but it doesn't mean anything if we are not practicing. So by study, I mean read what is said there, but then use it and study the outcome. When you change your behavior, what happens? That is how you learn. It is not to rush but to do things very methodically, very carefully with a lot of awareness. And that is how you start to know yourself. The key, the most important thing is to use the consciousness all the time. In the moment being aware and every day meditating so that you expand that awareness, deepen it.
Audience: Is this the self like the monkey mind running away or is this the self as in who we really are?
Instructor: Knowledge of self is that we are Purusha, which can mean all those levels. It can mean the ultimate self and it can also mean the terrestrial self. So it is all of it. You have to know all of it. Self knowledge, self realization is to know yourself all the way from the bottom to the top. And to really know yourself, you have to begin at the bottom. that is where we are. You have to know where you are now, and study who you are now. Because honestly if I say self knowledge is about knowing your inner self, so you must study that inner self. How are you going to do it? Can you see your inner self? Can you see Atman? Can you go and talk to your inner divinity and say, “Hey, I really want to get to know you. Can you tell me this and that?” We are not capable. For us, self as divinity is just a theory or a belief. We are not at the level yet where we can go directly and investigate the nature of our true inner divinity, our innermost. Most of us do not have the ability to have that experience. So for us, self knowledge is to begin with where we are, with what we can perceive, and work to change. And the more we change, the more that consciousness awakens, it develops that capacity so that eventually you are capable of perceiving divinity and talking to divinity, questioning divinity, learning about divinity, knowing divinity, not in belief or theory, but in experience. That comes as a Dharma after working.
Instructor: Consciousness is a sense. And like every sense, if you do not use it, it atrophies and weakens. But as you use it, it strengthens. And the more and more use it, the stronger it gets and the greater its range becomes. The consciousness is very mysterious. Very simple and very powerful. It is how we perceive everything, but we think that what we perceive is all that we can perceive. And we are very much mistaken about that. So yes, the more you work with it, the more it expands and the more capable it becomes. And that is entirely up to you. How far you grow it. The more you are willing to sacrifice and change, the more you can grow it. But the more you want to stay the way you are, the more limited you will be.
Change comes from sacrificing your desires, sacrificing your bad habits, sacrificing your resentments, sacrificing your suffering, giving up the things that you are attached to psychologically. Many of us are just attached to our suffering. We love how we suffer and we do not want to change that. For instance, we may have resentment towards God or resentment towards others and we feel entitled to have that resentment and we do not want to give it up. That is a way we suffer willingly; we want to suffer like that. And as long as we hold onto that, we will never change. So, we have to renounce those psychological things and change them.
If you want to become what you are not, first you must not be what you are.
If you want to do that, first you have to know what you are. We do not know what we are. We do not know ourselves. We have a lot of theories and beliefs about ourselves, things we tell ourselves. “I'm this way and that way.” And none of that is true. The sad shocking reality is that we are the way we are because we made ourselves this way, and we do not want to change. And if you want to be something better, you have to change, and only you can do it. You have to give up the way you are to become something else. And that is scary because we have a lot of attachment and security in this supposed sense of self. But the fact is it is all a collection of lies that we've created, and made it into a cage that traps us in pain. And so we need the courage to come out of that. Part of the reason that we emphasize meditation so much and we emphasize the importance of practicing daily is because if you are serious about meditation, you will start to experience the truth of yourself that is distinct from that cage.
It is only when you really start to experience what your true nature is that you understand that the ego is nothing but suffering. But without meditation you can't have that experience. It is impossible. It is only in meditation that you can experience the consciousness free of the cage.
“It is completely impossible to experience the Being—the Innermost, the Reality [our true nature]—without becoming true technical and scientific masters of that mysterious science called meditation.” —Samael Aun Weor, Spiritual Power of Sound
Many traditions study all of this, but they never meditate, and that is why they never change. They just remain in suffering. Even many students in this tradition study the teachings, they memorize the teachings, they know the terms, they go to all the meetings, but they do not meditate or if they do, they meditate very superficially, and so they never experience their true nature. Thus, they never change.
The experience of our true nature is absolutely essential because it is what empowers the consciousness to recognize what it is, and that the ego is optional. The ego isn't necessary. It is a cage. It is a bondage. It is a form of suffering and it is only in that experience that you really get that and become enthusiastic and inspired to change it. So meditation is really important.
Part of what the meditation practice we did today also teaches us is about our psychological song. That is the song we sing about their suffering. “Woe is me. No one understands me. I suffer so much. My mother, this my father that my husband, my wife, my kids, woe is me.” That psychological song is poison. We love to drink it. We do not realize it is killing us. To study that, I recommend you study the book Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology, which explains many of these subjects in great detail.