“It is better to do your own Dharma than to do someone else’s well.”
— Krishna from The Bhagavad Gita
Even though I had the opportunity of hearing the Bhagavad Gita, an ancient Indian text, from my grandmother when I was young and later read it a couple of times, I had not registered this wisdom until last year. We had a gentleman give a talk at the Unitarian Universalist Church of the North Hills who lucidly explained the rationale behind the quote and inspired me to follow my own dharma in 2013.
Dharma, for those who are unfamiliar with the term, is a philosophical concept of Indian origin in the Sanskrit language. Many eastern traditions have adopted variations of this concept in their theology as well. I view it more as a philosophy for living. The closest western concept that I can associate dharma with, is what we refer to as “a calling.”
A life of dharma is the way of collaborating with nature and the universe to offer loving service and respect for all life.
Finding my dharma or calling was not easy. While I devoted some time over the last 22 years to teaching, which I thought was my passion, it was only over the last 4 years of intentional practice that helped me to realize my calling. You know when you discover it, as it emerges clearly and comes with no anxiety or urgency to achieve.
Driven and motivated people tend to take on goals and set plans to achieve them. Being one of them myself, I noticed that many of my past goals brought me a sense of urgency, anxiety and worry. This time around, even though I am unclear as to what I will do exactly, I am at peace about what’s in store for me. I truly believe that by serving the world unconditionally, the universe will support me and my family. I am expecting this year to be one of challenges and pleasant surprises.
True to its word, it started off right away on January 1, 2013 with my entire family being stranded in Miami on our way back from India. What would have normally ended as a nightmare ended up with a pleasant surprise. Our neighbors, who are very close to us, happened to be in Miami for the winter and we got a chance to visit with them.
In my book, Beyond the PIG and the APE: Realizing Success and true Happiness, I present the various aspects of one’s life using a term called Life Spaces. These are the different spaces we inhabit.
Following our dharma is not about forcing your way in the world but simply to discover an authentic way to live your life in all our Life Spaces from with-in and not from with-out. Looking outside for acknowledgment and approval is a sure sign of getting on the path to follow someone else’s dharma.
Too many times, we fall prey to following a path set for us either by society or by our parents or our extended family or friends. Living your dharma is just being keenly aware of what’s driving you — is it coming from deep within or are you being driven by your fears, desires and your pride or others? Once you become aware and stay aware of the source of your motivations, it becomes fairly easy to discover and follow your dharma. Too many of us seem to set our goals with either an achievement or pleasure orientation rather than to generate lasting happiness and true contentment in our lives.
So, it is very important to use this approach not only to select your life’s goals or destinations, but also to choose the path, the vehicle and the type of fuel. If you run on the wrong fuel, you will pollute your insides.
In my years of experience, both personally and as a life coach, I have discovered that ignoring the source of our motivations tends to convert us from a driven and confident individual to a driven and restless™ individual.
Wishing you a year of learning and discovering your dharma and following it to bring you real joy and fulfillment in your life.
For harmony in your life and our world,