The Four Aims of Life and The Noble Eightfold Path: Unifying Ayurveda and Buddhism
dharmaartha kaama mokSaaNaam aarogyam mulam uttamam, Charaka
Translation: Health is the utmost root for the four aims of human life: dharma, artha, kaama, and mokSa.
We are taught in Vedic Astrology to see the four aims of human life:
These four aims of life are expressed three times each in the chart as beginning, middle and advanced stages.
first house = beginning dharma = outer personality, physique, health/well-being, …
second house = beginning artha = pocket money, family relationships, …
third house = beginning kaama = courage, valor, virility, …
fourth house = beginning mokSa = inner life, emotions, home, mother, …
fifth house = middle dharma = creativity, children, spiritual practices, punya, …
sixth house = middle artha = daily work, service,…
seventh house = middle kaama = business and personal relationships, marriage, spouse, …
eighth house = middle mokSa = length of life, physical death, …
ninth house = advanced dharma = luck, fortune, religiosity, …
tenth house = advanced artha = career, …
eleventh house = advanced kaama = gains, profits from work, ability to earn money, social contexts and organizations, …
twelfth house = advanced mokSa = loss, intuition, foreign travel, spirituality….
Without referring to astrology, Buddha told us how to achieve that all important final stage, mokSa, by following the eightfold path:
right view, right aspiration, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.
Rather wonderfully, there is a direct alignment between the three stages of dharma, artha, and kaama, which are known to set the path to liberation, and Buddha’s eight fold path to liberation.
Dharma, artha, and kaama are like any set of three. They can be arranged into 8 subsets:
Here is a list of the direct alignments between the 8 arrangements and the eightfold path:
Why this makes sense:
1. View is to understand things clearly, to see one’s purpose here on Earth, and to see the integration of one’s life into the whole. That is also one’s beginning dharma.
2. Speech is clearly artha, because of the beginning artha quality of the second house, the house of speech.
3. Aspiration is by its very definition kaama. I believe this can be seen in the third house of beginning kaama.
4. Concentration is in Buddhism best understood as dharma and artha without kaama. That is to say, it is best done with purpose and meaning without desire. This is best seen in the fifth house (middle dharma) and sixth house (middle artha).
5. Effort is similarly best understood as dharma and kaama without artha. That is to say, effort in Buddhism is purpose and desire without gains or meaning. Effort is definitely the sixth house (middle kaama) and ninth house (advanced dharma).
6. Livelihood is clearly artha and kaama, means and desire. This is best seen in the tenth (advanced artha) and eleventh (advanced kaama) houses.
7. Action done rightly is the unification of dharma, artha, and kaama. Also action is in the konas, i.e., the first (beginning dharma), seventh (middle kaama), and tenth (advanced artha) houses.
8. Finally, and perhaps most importantly to any set is the empty set, shunyo, zero, upon which one may set one’s mind rightly. I believe that this can be represented by the fourth, eighth, and twelfth houses (beginning, middle, and advanced moksha respectively).
So, all houses are represented in the eightfold path, and thus, as well, all four aims of life in both their beginning, middle, and advanced stages.
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Renay Oshop - teacher, searcher, researcher, immerser, rejoicer, enjoying the interstices between Twitter, Facebook, and journals.