Sun Jan 6th, 2008 at 04:15:35 PM EST
In response to Gianne's excellent diary "Metaphysics of the coming age", I would suggest looking at the foundational Classical Indian scheme... The 4 aims of Life, and particularly at "Moksha" (Enlightenment).
In the classical Indian view, the answer to the question "What are the marks of an auspicious life, a happy life, a life well lived?" is given as "The Four Aims of Life"... Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha.
Dharma: Duty, Virtue - (The good); living out one's own nature - (Who am I?)
Artha: Worldly ends - (The useful)
Kama: Enjoyment - (The beautiful)
Moksha: Finishing up; liberation; self-realization; enlightenment (What am I?)
Dharma: fulfilling one's obligations to oneself and others... being true to oneself and others... helping oneself and others along the path... standing for the truth, for the good... contributing towards the health of the social order. The dharma of the sun is to shine as it does... what is your dharma? (Main texts: The Mahabharata, The Ramayana, Bhagavad Gita)
"I am crossing an era of great darkness with you. And in this, if your heart should become bitter or cold or break, the light will have been lost." The Transcendent to Arjuna, in The Mahabharata, 500 BCE
Artha: acquiring knowledge, know-how, health, livelihood, wealth, family and worldly wisdom... being successful in the everyday world (Main Texts: Artha Shastra, Panchatantra, Charaka Samhita, Hora Shastra)
Kama: enjoyment... sensual and sexual fulfillment (Main Text: The Kama Sutra)
Moksha: Moksha is the end point of the human journey: the last and most difficult to reach stage of human development. This requires a deep interiorization, wherein the person comes to rest in the deepest possible knowledge of self (and world). This self-knowledge is far more than the complete recollection of one's personal history. Its hallmark is a self-evident ending of agitation towards the quest for an absolute knowledge. What this realization is, cannot be completely contained in words and thought, but can be expressed in how one is.
(Important texts: The Vedas, The Upanishads, Yoga Sutra, Bhagavad Gita, Yoga Vasistha, Spanda Karika, The Tantras)
"Fate or divine dispensation is merely a convention which has come to be regarded as truth by being repeatedly declared to be true. If this god or fate is truly the ordainer of everything in this world, of what meaning is any action, and whom should one teach at all?" The Yoga Vasistha, 500 CE
Vis a vis 'The 4 aims of life', there is also an understanding that for different persons at different times in their lives, one or the other of the 4 aims will be most compelling. For most persons however, the scheme of The four quarters of life will be fitting.
4 Quarters of Life
1st: Study pertaining to mostly worldly ends
2nd: Household and Career
(With respect to the duality of Self and World, these pertain to the world)
3rd: A deepening study and practise of Yoga; inward contemplation
4th: Finishing up
(With respect to the duality of Self and World, these pertain to Self)
Six views onto Self/World
There are considered to be 6 interconnected and complementary paths to Moksha. These are called Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Samkhya, Yoga, Mimamsa, Vedanta.
Nyaya: Sets forth the rules and limits of thought/logic/language
Vaisheshika: Analysis (an ancient atomic theory is part of this approach)
Samkhya: An atheistic, dualistic approach which posits an essential difference between matter and mind
Mimamsa: A theistic approach
Vedanta: Posits an essential non-duality
... more on those in another diary.
Do the schemes of the 4 aims of life and The 4 phases of life resonate with you? How do you understand enlightenment (Moksha)?