The Four Desires: Creating a Life of Purpose, Happiness, Prosperity, and Freedom Review

The Four Desires: Creating a Life of Purpose, Happiness, Prosperity, and Freedom
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Stryker bases his book on four "desires" derived from the Hindu religion. They are dharma (the desire to fulfill your life's purpose), artha (the desire for means, such as money and security), kama (the longing for pleasure), and moksha (the desire for freedom and spiritual fulfillment).
Because most of the concepts were new to me, I found the book challenging, but satisfying. Basically, Stryker uses the "four desires" to help the reader find his or her purpose in life by identifying inner desires and fulfilling them. Starting with finding your overall purpose in life (your "Dharma Code"), Stryker then provides meditative exercises which guide readers to explore inside their minds, to develop more specific goals and aspirations. Exercises include "Forty-Eight Hours of Fearless Action" and "Relaxing Into Greatness." Sometimes what the rational mind thinks is one's life purpose (such as "make a lot of money") might conflict with what the entire self really wants from life. Fortunately Stryker provides ways to bypass the conscious mind and overcome mental obstacles. I should note that this is not a book about satisfying every selfish whim. "Desire" in Eastern philosophy is much more complicated than this, and the highest forms of desire are selfless.
The book made me reflect on my purpose in life. I never really thought about an overarching purpose before, and when I did, I tended to think of it as relating to my career or completing educational hurdles. His ideas got me thinking more deeply about my purpose in life and what hinders my own self-development. He strikes a balance between spirituality and science, and even though the book is largely Eastern in character, he includes Western wisdom too, including Biblical quotes. You don't have to embrace Hinduism to use this book; skeptics and Christians can appreciate it, although there is a strong Eastern spiritual component to it. I am still exploring my purpose, but I have determined that it likely relates to making connections with God and people, and enriching the lives of those whom I meet (as a Christian, I would frame it as more perfectly loving God and neighbor).
Even though I really liked this book, to be complete, let me list a few things that some readers may not like about the book. First, many of the terms will be new for Westerners. I found them hard to pronounce and remember. Stryker explains them well, and it is worth the reader's time to learn them. Second, many of the meditation exercises can't be done very well unless you listen to them. Stryker sells a CD with them on it, or you can record them yourself. The former costs money, the latter takes up a good deal of time. Third, the book is long. With over 300 pages, reading it requires commitment. Fourth, the book might be too spiritual for some readers, even though Stryker tries to include scientific information to back up certain claims. Finally, to get a lot out of it, you will have to invest time to complete the exercises. Some of them are pretty involved and all of them require you to consider the possibility of personal change.
Overall, I enjoyed this book and learned a lot about the philosophical side of Yoga (it is more than just poses!). It is one of the best books I have read in a long time. Most importantly, I better understand my purpose in life and have tools to continue to discern my purpose and how I can achieve it. The book can be challenging, both in content and what it asks you to do, but it is worth the effort. I highly recommend it.

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"Desire is here to stay. The challenge we all face, and which I intend to guide you through, is to learn how to take into account the full measure of who you are and use the positive force of all four of your soul's desires to lead you to your best life."—Rod StrykerAccording to ancient Yogic tradition, your soul has four distinct desires: • The desire for purpose, the drive to become who you are meant to be• The desire for the means (money, security, health) to prosper in this world• The desire for pleasures like intimacy, beauty, and love• The desire for spiritual fulfillment and lasting freedom Learning to honor these four desires is the key to happiness, and to a complete and balanced life. But how can you discern what will truly satisfy your desires? How can you increase your capacity to achieve them? What if your desires seem to conflict with one another? Is it really possible to live a spiritual life while also wanting material pleasures and success?For more than three decades, master teacher Rod Stryker has taught yoga in the context of its deepest philosophy. His course, called The Yoga of Fulfillment™, has helped thousands recognize their soul's call to greatness and to achieve their dreams. Now, in this wise and richly practical book, he has distilled those broad teachings into a roadmap for becoming the person you were meant to be. It is filled with revealing true stories, provocative exercises, and practices for unlocking your inner guidance. And even if you've never done a yoga pose, you can follow this step-by-step process to: • discover your soul's unique purpose—the one you came into this world to fulfill.• recognize the goal(s) you need to focus on at any given time and enliven your capacity to reach them. • overcome self-defeating ideas and behavior.• recruit your deepest energies and strengthen your resolve to meet any challenge.• learn to live with joy at every stage of your growth. The Four Desires is nothing less than a complete path toward living your best life possible—a life that is rich in meaning and in means, a life that attracts and emanates happiness, a life that is your unique gift to yourself and the world.

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