Yoga’s most sublime objective is to awaken an exalted state of spiritual realization, however the tradition also recognizes that this state does not exist in absolute isolation from the world and worldly matters. Thus, the yoga tradition also addresses how to live and how to shape your life with a commanding sense of purpose, capacity, and meaning. In short, yoga ultimately has less to do with what you can do with your body or being able to still your mind than it has to do with the experience of realizing your full potential.
This is the understanding of yoga that was instilled in me by my teachers. It continues to be the centerpiece of my teaching––whether I am teaching, asana, meditation, or philosophy––precisely because it provides such powerful and practical guidance for the journey of living your best life.
What does “living your best life” mean to you? Does it mean accumulating wealth and fulfilling all your material wants? Or does it mean turning away from the material world in order to fully realize the gift of spirit? We often tend to think of these objectives as being mutually exclusive: material fulfillment or spiritual fulfillment, not both together. A little exposure to the philosophy of many Eastern spiritual traditions could easily lead you to conclude that if you aspire to achieve goals in the material world you cannot fulfill yourself spiritually, or vice versa. However, since all of us, at some level, long for fulfillment in all aspects of our life, it is essential to understand that these two aims are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, the tradition asserts that lasting happiness is dependent on prospering both materially and spiritually.
If yoga is about life––this means all of life, not just part of it. Together, the spiritual and material comprise the whole you, the whole of the experience of being human, and the nature of the universe in which you live. There may be no more important step to achieving ultimate fulfillment than accepting what the Vedas teach us about desires––that some desires are inspired by your soul.
The Four Desires
According to the Vedas, your soul has four distinct desires, which collectively, are described as purushartha, “for the purpose of the soul.” The first of these four desires is dharma, the desire to become who you were meant to be. It is the longing to thrive and, in the process, to fulfill your unique purpose, your destiny. The second is artha, the desire for the means (like money, security, health) to help you fulfill your dharma. The third desire is kama, the longing for pleasure in any and all forms. The fourth is moksha, the desire to be free from the burdens of the world, even as you participate fully in it. Moksha is the desire to abide in lasting peace, to realize a state beyond the reach of the other three desires.
These four desires are inherent aspects of your soul or essence. Your soul uses them for the purpose of fulfilling its unique potential. Learning to honor your four desires compels you to thrive at every level, leads you to happiness and a complete and balanced life. Furthermore, the teachings on the four desires guide you to become who you meant to be and, in the process, to contribute to the world as only you can.
Excerpt adapted from The Four Desires by Rod Stryker. Copyright © 2011 by Rod Stryker. Excerpted by permission of Delacorte Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
What is the thing that you are most passionate about, the thing that excites you…makes you want to get out of bed in the morning…the thing at your very essence, the pulse of your creativity…
I am moved by the desire to see and to be seen, to grow and to unveil the mysteries of life and, at the same time, by the aspiration that life will continue to reveal new mysteries and new possibilities. I am passionate about learning to most fully embody the spark that is the source of life, the hidden glory of the Creator.
What makes you vulnerable?
The smiles of children (especially my own).
How do you transform pain?
I still my mind and settle into Presence. There I feel and remember that the perception of loss and gain is one, fleeting and two, a symptom of diminished awareness and misapprehension. Once that bubble is burst, pain is little more than last night’s dream.
What compelled you to write this book?
I was motivated by the drive to reduce suffering and to give voice to the great wisdom, with which my teachers graced my life.
Website: rodstryker.com, parayoga.com
Bio: Rod Stryker is the founder of ParaYoga® and the author of The Four Desires: Creating a Life of Purpose, Happiness, Prosperity, and Freedom. Rod has taught for more than thirty years and is widely respected as one of the country’s leading authorities on the ancient traditions of yoga, tantra, and meditation. He can be found at rodstryker.com.
Powered by Facebook Comments