October 12, 2011

Christian Desire: The Four Purusharthas.

image via Wikipedia

God says, “I am the sovereign goodness of all things. I am what makes you love. I am what makes you long and desire. This I am—the endless fulfilling of all desires.” –Julian of Norwich

The four Purusharthas, dharma, artha, kama, and moksha, are defined as “the objectives of human being.” Rod Stryker draws from them in his best-selling book, The Four Desires. Here are the four connected to the Christian tradition.

  1. Dharma– The desire for purpose in the world, the drive to be and become what the jiva (individual, unique, soul; the self) is meant to be.
    • ~“Fish cannot drown in the water, birds cannot sink in the air, gold cannot perish in the refiner’s fire. This God gives to all creatures: To develop and seek their own nature—how then can I withstand mine?”Mechtild of Magdeburg
    • ~“Each man must therefore discover this Centre in himself, this Ground of his being, this Law of his life. It is hidden in the depths of every soul, waiting to be discovered. It is the treasure hidden in a field, the pearl of great price. It is the one thing which is necessary, which can satisfy all our desires and answer all our needs…It is the original paradise from which we have all come.”Bede Griffiths
  2. Artha– Desires that represent the means necessary to accomplish dharma, including material things, resources, skills, health and well-being.
    • ~“God has gifted creation with everything that is necessary…Nothing that is necessary for life is lacking.”Hildegard of Bingen
    • ~And Jesus said unto them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and ye shall find.” They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes. –John 21:6
  3. Kama– The desire for pleasure.
    • ~“God is voluptuous and delicious.”Meister Eckhart
    • ~“God feels great delight to be our Father and God feels great delight to be our Mother and God feels great delight to be our true Spouse and our soul the loved Wife. Christ feels great delight that he is our Brother and Jesus feels great delight that He is our Liberator. These are five great joys that God wants us to enjoy.”Julian of Norwich
  4. Moksha– The longing for liberation, true freedom; the desire to realize a state free from all boundaries and attachments, including the limitations of the other three desires.
    • ~“It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives within me.”St. Paul, Galatians 2:20
    • ~“The day of my spiritual awakening was the day I saw and knew I saw all things in God and God in all things.”Mechtild of Magdeburg

“In every human desire, in every human appetite, there is a great deal of energy, passion and fire. And this energy and this fire reach their greatest intensity when the soul wholly abandons itself, to desire henceforth only one thing and one love!…Passions, appetites, affections, instincts, and all the many anxieties of the human heart are the fuel of the love of God. Actually, the entire human being is this kind of fuel. And the love with which God responds to the soul may be compared with the pouring of oil on a fire.” –Ernesto Cardenal

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