Desire in My Head.

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Photo: Dierk Schaefer

Chapter 3: The Four Desires For the Purpose of Soul
Rod Stryker’s Four Desires (4D) Virtual Book Club

Does anyone remember the show “Herman’s Head?” It was a TV show in the 90‘s where the main characters occupied Herman’s psyche. They played different roles teaming up or plotting against each other to fulfill their own desires. I imagine the four desires: dharma, moksha, kama and artha, as a small cast of main characters in a constant dance in my head.

Dharma desire is our soul’s purpose, and speaks directly to our jiva atman, our individuality. Everyone’s dharma is different and adds to the diversity of this world. Moksha desire speaks to para atman, the supreme divinity. This is the desire for liberation and freedom from suffering. This is why we seek to know something greater, something beyond liberation from the other three desires.

Dharma and moksha, however, are not possible without support and motivation. Artha desire, I like to imagine, is the one that is constantly supporting our dharma first, and then all of our other desires. In order for us to do our duty we need and want physical support like a home, a car, an i-something, books and so on–anything that will help us to actualize our purpose. This also includes those things that are not tangible, like patience and will.

Kama desire is my motivational speaker. When there is pleasure of all kinds closeness, intimacy, beauty, family, art, friendship, as well as sex; it’s going to keep me on track!

We come back to tantra to understand that no one of the four desires is greater or more important than the rest. They conspire to make us our best Self, each taking their turn in the spot light.

Which of your main characters takes over your head?
Which desire do you feel you need to fulfill most? 




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About Chanti Tacoronte-Perez

As a traveler and painter Chanti has grounded her roots in the path of yoga wherever she has landed. Chanti began practicing Yoga during her first year in college & continued when she left for Hampshire College to complete her BA in Painting/Fine Arts and Special Education. From 2001-2004 she lived and worked in Havana, Cuba as the Hampshire College Cuba Program Coordinator where she studied Iyengar Yoga. Chanti has been studying and teaching yoga in the Tantric Hatha Linage since 2005 with her teacher Rod Stryker, founder of Para Yoga. He has taught her that everyone has the ability to know their destination and find that road to walk on. She has currently completed the Para Yoga Certification (level I) & her Restorative Yoga training with Judith Handson Lasater. Her study of Sacred Art and Yantra Painting merge her love of Yoga with her passion for painting and education.


22 Responses to “Desire in My Head.”

  1. Paula says:

    For so long in my life I've been plagued by an obsession with Dharma, I think in part because my parents were atheists and devoted to ensuring that we take action now, make a difference now, be the best we can be in the world now. This is good in many ways, I have accomplished a lot. But no matter how much I accomplished it seemed like it was unsatisfying, not enough, there was always more to do, more to accomplish, a better person to be. As I again struggled with this desire – should I stay in my job? Should I become a yoga teacher full time? Should I change careers and become a therapist? – the processes in the 4 desires showed my that what I DO in the world is less important that who I AM in this world. The daily activities don't matter as much as the intention, the clarity, the will that undermines them. I also surprisingly discovered that my focus at this moment is Karma, the need to sit back and enjoy the fruits of my efforts in the world, for a little bit. And it's not easy, I am unaccustomed to enjoying things, slowing down, paying real attention to what is going on in the moment, connecting with others.

    Now when I become obsessed with what is next for my career or action in the world, I come back to my Dharma code which is independent of my profession, and to my sankalpa which is Kama based and one which requires a lot of non-activity. I love the beauty and balance in this process, there is a time for everything and they all support each other.


  2. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Loved this, Chanti.

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor
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  3. Just posted to Elephant Main Facebook Page, my Facebook page, Twitter, & StumbleUpon, & LinkedIn.

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  4. Chanti says:

    Thanks everyone for posting 🙂

  5. missmiapark says:

    for the last few months, i've wanted to fulfill my artha – the means for me to teach yoga and pursue my other career interests. i realized that i focussed too much on the material side of artha – the money, so i've softened my attitude towards making money and that approach leaves me feeling better and more whole.

    i was saying to myself, "i am very successful communicating the highest good" – with the "very successful" part meaning that i was affective in communicating the highest good and that i was making a living from it – like through social media, teaching yoga, acting, etc. i got too into the success meaning money to where i caught myself just thinking, "i am very successful…"

    i stepped back and realized that i had to shift back to what my dharma is in order to better work on acquiring artha/money. i now say to myself, "i see the highest good in everything and communicate it". and the means are being fulfilled – the money is coming in as it needs to.

    chanti, i know that you are right in saying that in tantra, we value all four desires equally, but, like paula, it helps me to remember my dharma code (re-working it!) to re-center myself with the other desires. thanks!

    • Chanti says:

      Thanks Mia! Yes those of us who have a dharma code and who have been working with it are going to benefit from having that connection to it and a better way of connecting with one of the four desires. But before we start on the Dharma Code path (it's coming for those of you who don't have one yet) It is important to know that all 4 desires are equally important and influence us.
      I love that so many of our readers are already in the process of this book, it will make for some very interesting talks about the next few chapters.

  6. […] Chapter 3: The Four Desires Desires For the Purpose of the Soul Desire in My Head […]

  7. […] remind the leader of his or her internal brilliance. That is what we hoped to have accomplished. We desire deeply to support your ability to trust yourself. In order to convey this message, here are some […]

  8. Kristen says:

    The balance between the four is so interesting, they are almost like Chakras, at one point one may be more active than another and so on. That is why I love this book and this thread, it is a great reminder of checking in and seeing where you are in your jivatman 🙂 Thanks

  9. sueneufeld says:

    So true Kristen about different desires being more relevant at different times. And that goes for stages in life also. I celebrated my 60 birthday this past summer. I've had a 25+ year love affair with yoga and my practice. It began in the Artha stage – I was a young mother of 2 with a party decorating business . My physical being needed great support – mostly my low back., which would spasm for days at a time. My practice was all about my physical body and strengthening my back. Over the years, while asana was still important, kama kicked in – I did asana (postures) and pranayama (breath work) for the sheer joy and pleasure it gave me. By now, yoga was irreplaceable in my life.

  10. sueneufeld says:

    (continued from above) As I approached my 50 birthday, I stepped into the Dharma stage – became a certified yoga teacher and eventually gave up my party business to follow my calling as a healer (yoga teacher, Reiki Master). And then I met my true teacher and path with Rod and the tradition of the Himalayan masters. At this stage of my life, Dharma is still very alive and well – teaching yoga and private meditation, Reiki attunements and teaching and consulting for this course, The Four Desires. Enter Moksha – my once- upon- a -time need to do long daily asana practices is now a calling for Meditation. Moksha, my own connection to living in the light of Sri (beauty and abundance) , connection to Truth and Source, growing my spiritual awareness and thriving in that knowing, is now topping my list. Yoga describes different stages in one's life, and I am entering and loving the stage where I grow my Moksha, my spiritual awareness and knowingness. I have appreciated each stage of shifting prominent desires, but must say, I wouldn't go back for a minute. This stage of life -where I can dedicate more and more time to Moksha – is a beautiful as it gets!!

  11. HeatherR says:

    Such insightful posts. Since August I have been focused on artha. However, these weeks since then have brought me through very dark days. The pressure to perform, the pressure to somehow make it all more feasible. Then I came across a talk, which led to a book, which led to another book. This book is called 'Play'. This book is an argument for kama in our everyday. The concepts presented and supported with research discuss the importance of play, enjoying the pleasure of things for their own sake, as this is a gateway to the clarity and innovation that can make the other three desires more successful. As I write this, it occurs to me that there is no separation between these four desires. All are interwoven in a tapestry. Movement is one of the ways I begin to move toward play because I love being awake in my body through movement. Devotional practice engages my imagination. The storytelling of kriyas awakens my imagination and visualization, both elements of play. For now, I shall open to a little more pleasure in my life and who knows, perhaps with more enthusiasm and pleasure, I will be free from suffering, energetic in following my dharma. Who knows where all that shakti will lead!

    • Chanti says:

      Funny you mention play. I passed by a school yard the other day and observed some preschool kids. They were all following one girl, back and forth and twirling around. I thought to my self, this is such an important piece of the puzzle, how we develop and learn! Play away!!

  12. garuda65 says:

    I never watched the show “Herman’s Head” but I often feel as though there are forces within me that sometimes drive me in divergent directions. I’ve been having a little trouble understanding the concept of artha. I’d love your feedback on my thought process. I guess I understand that it’s artha that creates this deep seated curiosity to know all I can about yoga. But this curiosity is not just limited to yoga, I’m also intensely interested in many other things including healing through massage. But is it the main character in my head? I’m not sure. I know that hearing/reading the meaning of kama has certainly piqued my reflection of self and how I relate to needs for intimacy, closeness & friendship. These two desires are certainly forefront as I continue to discover the richness of my dharma and appreciate the deepening moments where I’m observing moksha.

  13. Chanti says:

    Hi Garuda65,
    I like to think of artha as the supporter. Is it why we are curious? Maybe, but I think it is more the means to make Dharma more possible. At first I always forgot this particular desire, but once you start to shape your Dharma you really start to realize what it is that you need in your life in order to fulfill your purpose. So I invite you to work a little more on discovering dharma and then maybe what you need in your life (artha) will start to unveil itself.

  14. […] paper the four desires and their meaning. Rod says to have the book handy, but I felt that writing the 4 desires down separately helped me start the process of creating a […]

  15. Jayasri says:

    The book states that the Paramatman is identical to the divine (infinite, unconditional essence, eternal, changeless).

    I have a question about the Jivatman. Is the Jivatman also eternal and changeless? Or, if it is changeable, does our purpose change each lifetime? And does it still exist after our purpose is fulfilled?

    I am assuming that the jiva is somehow beyond the mind, ego and personality, but if so, is it also an unconditioned essence like the para?

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