4 Levels of Purpose

Recently, I wrote about Intention and Purpose. In comments I touched on Jyotish. Today in a discussion with a friend, they mentioned the Vedic 4 arenas of life and a web site. The site turned out to have a great summary of the subject.

In an article on Dharma, Dennis Flaherty explores the Vedic understanding of 4 levels of purpose and how that ties into castes, life periods and life arenas.

In short, Dharma comes in 4 layers:
1) Universal (rita) – divine order or cosmic law, natural laws
2) Social (varna) – family and social responsibility (now degraded to caste divisions)
3) Human (ashrama) – the life periods: study, work and family, winding down, and senior
4) Personal (swadharma) – a blend of past karma and above. This becomes ones “personal law”.

The 4 consequences of following dharma are personal purpose, resources, fulfillment of desires, and liberation (Dharma,
Artha, Kama, and Moksha). Good benefits if you can align yourself in our rather non-aligned culture.

“When a person is born, whoever they may be, there is born simultaneously a debt to the Gods, to the sages, to the ancestors, and to humanity.”

“Every person has his life designed beforehand, and the light of the purpose he is born to accomplish in life has already been kindled in his soul!”

This can be viewed as determinism or our life choice. It’s the same thing. We cannot really live outside of our purpose. But we can certainly struggle if we don’t recognize why we’re here.

The article goes on to discuss how that is studied in an astrological chart. Note that this is Jyotish – you can’t use a western charts placements here. Jyotish reflects where the planets are in the actual constellations astronomically unlike a western chart. Jyotish is also more complex to study than western so it’s better to get a professional interpretation for such key questions as your vocation. If you do want your placements, this site will do a Vedic chart for free.

I’m not suggesting you believe any of this, by the way. If you grok that consciousness is the container and foundation of all experience, everything we experience will reflect the structure of consciousness. Thus you can explore consciousness internally, in your immediate life or macro-cosmically. They will all be mirrors of each other in different forms. This is not to say you are the center of the universe but rather the container of it. Jyotish is simply one way this has been studied. The quality of an interpretation will depend on the depth of skill of the jyotishi and how well they “translate” into a modern context. I don’t consider it perfect but it’s much more precise than western and one way you might use for getting some clarity. Another model that might offer context.

In the closing paragraph Dennis observes how our profit oriented culture is antithetical to the fulfillment of individual purpose. Profit and labour must follow purpose, not the other way around. A friend of mine has observed that many people in the west have a conflict between their work and career houses, causing lack of clarity in suitable vocation. I found the article still more interesting in light of an article I’m working on that will follow.

Nice Plato quote: “Laboring in vain, he must end in hating himself and his fruitless occupation.”

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