The Third Aim: Kama

Running Along the Beach by Joaquin Sorolla

As our investigation of the Purusharthas continues, we come to the third aim, Kama, which means “longing”, “wish”, or “desire.” Kama pertains to the enjoyment of life and needs to be in balance with Dharma (duty) and Artha (means) if we are to experience the final aim, Moksha or liberation. It should not be the central focus of life. Proper expression of pleasure of the senses occurs when it is in harmony with the mind and spirit. The goal is to satisfy our desires and be freed from them, rather than to become increasingly snarled up in indulgence.

The Noble Truths, however, state that desire is the cause of all suffering. We can evaluate which desires cause pain and why, after which we can attempt to use the strong force of desire productively. With the help of contemplation and skillful action, we watch our desires evolve into something that supports dharma, artha and our spiritual practice in general. As we transform, so do our desires. We become capable of seeing the beauty and joy in everything, even hardship. Eventually we mature and wish to be of service to others.

According to Vedic Astrology, three houses correspond to Kama. The third house of ego and personal interests shows where self-will grows into skillful action. The seventh house of relationships with others demonstrates how codependency evolves into cooperation. Finally, the eleventh house of gains indicates how blind ambition becomes service to others. Influences on these houses in an individual birth chart reveal how much self-created misery we might experience before we bring awareness to it.

Next time we will consider the final aim, Moksha.