Four goals in life

What is the meaning of my life? What goals should I pursue? What are the values that lead to human fulfillment? These questions are so old, and every generation tries to find the answers in the context of its own reality. Religions, philosophical schools, scientific communities have different perspectives, but there is no ultimate answer. We are free living beings and a single predefined formula for all just wouldn’t work.

In a nutshell, everyone wants to live a fulfilling life and feel that she or he is needed; achieve and maintain a certain status and material comfort; and enjoy the pleasures this lifestyle offers.

All goals in life can be reduced to four. The average person naturally aspires to the first three, regardless if she or he is tormented by existential questions and in search for the meaning of life, or not.

We seek happiness, delight and enjoyment and therefore, we are looking for the right way of living, an occupation where we find satisfaction and the true purpose in life. This path, where one has the sense of calling, belonging and harmony is called dharma.

Dharma opens the path to acquiring a certain level of prosperity and security, or material and social comfort. The desire and ability to maintain a dignified lifestyle, to live at ease and skillfully use available resources is called artha.

Artha is needed to achieve the next goal. Pleasure is intrinsic to humans, we naturally seek to enjoy food, sex, communication, beautiful things, scientific knowledge or aesthetic contemplation of the world. This desire of sensual pleasure is called kama.

These three goals are intertwined with each other: dharma provides the foundation for artha, and artha is needed to support kama.

The last goal of existence is moksha or liberation from life’s illusion. We are drawn into this world, discover and enjoy everything it has to offer, but without clinging to the form, we must see the essence. We come to realize, that happiness is in the process itself, it is within us. Finding happiness in outer objects and experiences only unlocks what is already inside us. Moksha is freedom from ignorance, it reveals the true higher Self – the origin of all pleasure and happiness – something that can never be lost.

Being spiritual means following all four goals – there’s no freedom if we still have unfulfilled desires. Being spiritual doesn’t mean we have to be poor, it means being aware of our welfare and aspirations without attaching to them.

If you want to know more how to effectively fulfill these four goals, visit to study for free the theory of the ancient but actual wisdom yoga has to offer. OpenYoga offers complete, deep courses for each section.

Authors: Nat Satcitananda
Photo from IOYU archive/ Author of the picture: Katya Smolyaninova
Editors: Teya Sweet
Chief editor: Mirra
Project curator: Kerigona
Translators: Nat Satcitananda