What is your philosophy of life?  Should you have one?

In Hinduism, artha is the pursuit of wealth or material advantage, one of the four traditional aims in life (EB).  Artha is considered the “means of life,” so it includes making a living and securing one’s health (Wikipedia, “Artha”).

The other three goals of human life are the following:

  • Dharma (virtuous, proper, moral life),
  • Kama (pleasure, sensuality, emotional fulfillment) and
  • Moksha (liberation, release, self-actualization).

Together, these four aims of life are called Puruṣārtha (Wikipedia, “Artha”).

Artha applies to both an individual and a government.  At government level, artha includes social, legal, economic and worldly affairs. Proper Arthashastra is considered an important and necessary objective of government.

I think it would be interesting to compare Hindu texts on money and careers with the Bible.

Regarding money, various Hindu texts emphasize being a good steward of money and not chasing after it or letting it hinder one’s spiritual life, which is the same message of the Bible.

I wonder what Hinduism would add to an understanding of careers. A Christian understanding of work can come from Calvin’s writings on a “vocation,” which is literally work as a “calling.”  As one example, Calvin states that “there would be no employment so mean and sordid (provided we follow our vocation) as not to appear truly respectable, and be deemed highly important in the sight of God (”  I suppose Calvin, then, was the foundation of the “Protestant work ethic.”

I also wonder if our government would be improved by a more comprehensive philosophy of government such as that in Hinduism or in Confucianism.  America has an excellent philosophy of government, but it seems to be more about what our government is not allowed to do rather than than what an effective, efficient government ought to do.   It’s a shame that our current government is so ineffective and inefficient. As our founders were aware, however, talking about all the things the government can do is a dangerous path, as it could lead to a turbulent flood of government interference in all of our lives.

Two sidenotes:

  1. The mention of “self-actualization” as a definition of Moksha made me wonder if Hinduism is a source for psychologist Abraham Maslow’s theories on personality development.
  2. Should sensuality be a goal of life, or is this just an opening for debauchery?  What would a life that set goals for sensuality look like?

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