Pursuit of something “higher” has necessarily to correspond to the Dharmic duties of this material world. Sanyasa is the solution offered by Hinduism to those who want to pursue a higher realm than the material world.
Here’s the full comment I left on Jim’s Blog, on the pursuit of “higher purpose”:
In Hinduism, we divide life into roughly four stages: Celibate studenthood (Bharmacharya – the pursuit of knowledge/studies without distraction), Family duties (Grihastashrama – marriage and becoming the householder/chief patriarch and raising a family), retirement (Vanaprashta – withdrawing from all worldly affairs by handing over the reigns to your eldest son in old age) and only finally Sanyasa (which is optional, since it is a rigorous life that even the most hardy can find difficult).
The Hindu solution of pursuit for a “higher purpose”, is the very extreme pursuit of Sanyasa, where you give up all your possessions, attachment to worldly pleasures, property and even your relations and become a wandering ascetic living off food that is offered by others. The Sanyasi is not even supposed to be particular about the taste of food that he is offered and supposed to live the life of a wandering ascetic.
All pursuit of “something greater” has to necessarily involve giving up of pursuit of worldly pleasures/material/power and so on.This can only be for the very few who are determined to reach for greater spiritual pursuits. The Sanyasa path is so hard that, even in the religious sphere, he is not allowed to gather devotees and become a center of power.
The Grihasta’s primary duty is to raise a family and take care of his family.
Reaching for “greater things” within the material sphere, beyond the primary duty of the householder often leads only to demon worship. In that sense, even the King is a householder whose primary purpose is to maintain and uphold the patriarchy within the Earthly realm. Any King who sees something greater than maintaining the patriarchy, often sows the seed of Leftism. Because the Leftists are the ones who see “greater things” in the material sphere beyond the primary duty of the householder and they pursue those at the detriment of the primary duties within the material sphere..
Those who want to pursue a higher purpose, should necessarily give up all things worldly, physically and mentally, including pursuit of wealth, social standing, luxury, comforts, love of women and tasty food, etc. and become a Sanyasi having nothing more as wealth than the cloth he wears. The Sanyasi is not even supposed to earn a living and ought to live on the food that he is offered by way of alms, while pursuing higher spiritual goals.
That is to say, Hinduism realizes that pursuit of “higher purpose” is to be something with a very high entry barrier and should involve massive sacrifice of all the worldly stuff and that sacrifice has to be completely voluntary and after reaching a higher level of spiritual prowess , and never as the result of becoming weary of life. The pursuit of all other things in life, in this worldly sphere, must always be within the context of the pursuit of the goals of the Grihastashrama. Anything other than this, leads to demon worship, like all the Leftisms of the modern era.
P.S. It is possible entirely to attain Moksha without necessarily following higher spiritual paths, by staying on the path of Dharma in this material world.
P.P.S. The pursuit of “something higher” within this material sphere which does not align with the Dharmic duties prescribed for each stage of life, always leads to greater misery and unhappiness.