What is Moksha?
MOKSHA – MEANING BEHIND THE WORD
If one were to ‘Google’ the term ‘Moksha’ they would come across a myriad of interesting links, web pages, definitions, history and roots. ‘Moksha’ is a very relevant term even for those who are non-spiritual or non-religious because eventually we all struggle with answering age-old questions such as, “Who am I? What is the purpose of my life? And how do I achieve this? ” However, before ‘Moksha’ can be associated with today’s world, we must explore the historical roots in relation to religion and spirituality.
Moksha is a final release [emancipation] from one’s worldly conception of self, the loosening of experiential duality and a realization of one’s own fundamental nature which is the true being, pure consciousness and bliss and experience which…is beyond sensation. Here the soul is a separate entity from the body and is described as formless, timeless, non-tangible, and without causation (karma) or attributes. Moreover, ‘Moksha’, “is not seen as a soteriological goal in the same sense as in a Christian context, but signifies rather a dissolution of the sense of self as an egoistic personality.
MOKSHA’S SPIRITUAL FOUNDATION
Moksha‘s roots began in India; whereby non-Aryan Indians influenced those from within the caste system of Hinduism. This concept was later adopted in Jainism and Buddhism.
Many important journeys have been ignited by the preparation for Moksha. The process of Moksha or Mukti is the process by which the soul is liberated from repeating the cycle of reincarnation (death and re-birth). The soul is then freed from experiencing all pain, suffering, and limitations involved in ‘worldly existence’. These limitations are influenced by one’s attachment to worldly experiences and possessions or Maya. In doing so, the ‘enlightened’ soul is able to leave behind all concepts of ego, power, money, greed and other related earthly passions.
It is this liberation from and the pacifying of these passions in Buddhism that is known as Nirvana. Buddhists believe that Nirvana is the goal of attaining the ‘highest happiness’ or ‘salvation’. Whereas in Jainism and Hinduism, Moksha is achieved when the soul is separate from all actions or Karmas. Despite these differences, all believe that the soul strives to reach self-awareness through Nirvana or Moksha by releasing Maya and by aligning with God or a higher spiritual power.
ANCIENT WISDOM FOR THESE MODERN TIMES
Moksha (or Mukti) is the ultimate peace, knowledge and enlightenment; and this is how Moksha relates to us in today’s world.
So what does this all mean to us? Well, it shows us that people have always wondered what their purpose in life is and how this purpose is achieved within reason and balance. To feel at peace and harmony we need to feel love, joy, laughter, happiness and ultimately at balance between feelings and experiences of pain and suffering. Although we would all like to eliminate pain and suffering, without these emotions experiences we can’t appreciate the positive ones. Life would be without meaning and we wouldn’t be able to strive to be ‘better’ human beings.
We can all strive toward Moksha in the form of self-development. By gaining the knowledge of who we truly are; we are constantly improving on ourselves and reducing our negative attributes that are limiting or blocking our abilities to feel secure, happy, loved and balanced.
You may wonder how you recognize who you truly are and also realize that this process in itself can take a lifetime of exploration, experience and knowledge. However, this is an important struggle because it helps you to understand what your individual weaknesses and strengths are. This sense of awareness then helps you associate your past patterns of Karmas or behaviours with some insight or enlightenment towards your present. The combination of this awareness of your past and present will then influence what your future will be.
With the world’s current economic state, we have all had to reassess the priorities in each of our lives. This has meant a huge paradigm shift in thinking about what actually brings us peace, happiness and balance.
MOKSHA, RESEARCH & POTENTIAL IMPLICATIONS
Experts such as Deepak Chopra believe that we each need to experience peace and stillness by re-aligning our thoughts and actions. Chopra recommends daily meditation, embracing uncertainty by focusing less on material consumption and more on our relationships with one another. Chopra also states that as a society, we have bought into false ideas about happiness, well-being and security. As a society, we have come to believe that money will bring us happiness, that technology will bring us well-being and that war and weapons will bring us security; but we all know that these notions have been proven to be false.
Through daily meditation, we can learn to spend time alone and to be still. It is here that we can reflect and reconnect with ourselves. We can reassert our journeys and assess where we are on these journeys and what we need to do on a daily basis to achieve our goals of self-development.
Research is showing that happiness comes from our relationships with others and how we make one another happy. This is the easiest route to contentment. It has also been proven that some of the poorest countries are happier than more affluent ones. So if happiness comes from within, how do we achieve this? Chopra states that the happiest people are those who find opportunities where others find problems. He also states that the easiest thing for even the busiest person today is to take a little time everyday and to reflect by asking: who am I?, what do I want?, what gives me meaning and purpose?, what do I look for in a good relationship?, and how can I be a better friend? These kinds of questions will help to nurture your self-development. The beauty behind this is that you never have to know the answer at first glance!
We achieve Moksha or enlightenment when we have reached the finish line towards self-awareness and self-development. Most of us agree that this state is never fully achieved and that it is a state of constant change. It is this constant reflection, reassessing, and readjusting that we all find ourselves undergoing throughout our lives. It is a great achievement for each of us when our thoughts and actions bring us love, joy, laughter, happiness, peace and harmony in our lives.