Balancing

The key to working with the purusharthas paradigm is to constantly examine not only the essential concepts and their role in your life, but also how well balanced they are. Are you working so hard to put your kids through school that your life feels like an endless grind? (That's too much dharma, not enough kama.) Are you so trapped in pleasure that you're neglecting your duty to your friends and family? (Too much kama, not enough dharma.) Have you become so focused on making money that you have no time to meditate? (Too much artha, not enough moksha.) Are you spending so much time getting blissed out at the yoga studio that you can't swing this month's rent? (Too much moksha, not enough artha.)

The balance between them will constantly shift—by stage of life, by month, by week, even by the minute. A young mother, for instance, will naturally emphasize the dharma of raising her children, and her artha will be about providing for it. An elderly man facing the end oflife will turn toward moksha, ready to leave artha and dharma behind. A business executive entering contract negotiations will focus on artha and dharma; a college student on summer break will indulge in more kama. All that is as it should be. The work ofbal-ance isn't literal—it's an effort to face the world with all of your pieces intact, to live in a conscious way that leaves no part of your Self behind.

That work, of course, starts on the yoga mat. "Yoga is virtuosity in being human," Brooks concludes. "The purusharthas tell us that we must meditate on our roles in the world, our values, relationships, and passions. These are not concerns to cure, extinguish, or transcend. They are simply part ofbeing human, and embracing them is loving life." D

Hillari Dowdle, a former YogaJournal editor, lives and writes in Knoxville, Tennessee.

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