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Article XC: Goals in Vedanta

"Freedom is the one goal of all nature, sentient or insentient; and consciously or unconsciously, everything is struggling towards that goal." Swami Vivekananda (The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Volume I, Karma Yoga, Chapter VIII: The Ideal of Karma Yoga)

We live in quite a goal-oriented society, and often we become very focused on specific goals. Therefore, it is important to consider how goals fit into the Vedanta perspective. The ultimate goal in Vedanta is moksha, or freedom. Moksha represents freedom from ignorance, freedom from material existence, freedom from desire, freedom from the body, freedom from the mind, freedom from space, freedom from time, and freedom from attachment. Nonattachment is a central concept in Vedanta, which can be embraced in any goal one has in life.

When one establishes a goal, one can approach that goal as part of the path to moksha. In aspiring for moksha, the ultimate goal, one can approach subgoals with nonattachment, selflessness, and dharma. If one is attached to the outcome of an action and the achievement of a goal, one will be dependent on that situation and the results of that action. The attachment leads one to transient happiness or sadness dependent on the circumstances. However, if one is nonattached to the fruits of one's actions, then one's bliss will be independent of all situations and results. If one is selfish in action and achievement, then one's ego becomes an even larger obstacle to overcome in order to approach moksha. However, if one is selfless, the ego begins to diminish as one nears moksha. Each step closer to moksha allows for greater peace and joy as one's true divine nature becomes more and more clear.

If one follows dharma, then one establishes goals for the sake of dharma and completes all actions for the sake of dharma. Then there will be no attachment, and there will be no selfishness. Dharma is duty, truth, righteousness, and can be discovered in God as a deity or in the Divine as within. In the path of bhakti (love), surrender actions and the fruits of actions to God. Or in the path of jnana (wisdom), contemplate on the Divine within and realize one's dharma from within. By approaching goals and actions with nonattachment, selflessness, and dharma, one moves closer to moksha, which reveals greater peace and bliss throughout one's life.

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