If you are at all familiar with the concept of dharma, then you may have heard it interpreted as ‘righteous conduct’ or ‘moral duty.’ Although it definitely involves the element of intentional human behavior, dharma can be more aptly described as: the natural law of the entire universe, that when followed leads to our ultimate happiness.
Consider that we need everyone’s & every thing’s contribution in society to function as a whole.
We see this in the cosmos with the sun radiating its light and heat, and the trees providing oxygen. If one day the sun stubbornly decided that it no longer wanted to shine or the trees spontaneously stopped supplying fresh air, we would literally die.
Dharma is the nature of a thing in the absence of which it doesn’t exist (Bhagavad Gita).
As humans we fight against our basic instinct to do what comes naturally on a daily basis. We let our pride and selfishness overtake our inherent tendencies to help others. We allow self-created thoughts to multiply, take over our minds, and contaminate our reasoning and actions. We compare ourselves to others out of fear and insecurity, leading to anger and judgment. We misuse our power to further our own motives and goals. We act from a place of survival and limited means.
All of this leads to a confused state of our true nature and purpose. The more we go against it, the further we get buried in layers of delusion.
Imagine yourself shoveling a pile of dirt from one side and throwing it to the other, over your own essence and soul. As time goes on, it becomes increasingly difficult to clean up that mess. Uncertainty of who we really are slowly grows out of control. We move further and further away from our source, covering it up with junk.
When we do not have the ability to see our true-selves, then we cannot work through blockages, we cannot share our gifts, we do not have the desire to do good for others because we are too busy thinking about our own needs. We live in a constant state of deprivation.
We have the power to change the course of our lives and move into a new model of being.
Instead, living a dharmic life means morally fulfilling our duties in this world. When we are not operating from a place of ego, anger, or greed, then we can act with the good of everyone in mind. We realize that there is nothing out there to get, instead we already have everything we need within us. We all have a role to play in the organic flow of life.
There are many observances we can follow in finding and following our dharma. These include yogic principles and a personal code of behaviors, as well as rituals and rites. However, I believe there is one necessary prerequisite: In order to know your dharma, you must first know yourself.
You have to begin by accepting who you are at this moment, right now.
Progress cannot be made without proper understanding of ourselves. If you do not know where you are starting from, then how do you know which path you need to take and what your journey will look like? Awareness of our faults and strengths, accepting what we need to work towards and what comes naturally, and being okay with our own personal dichotomies, are all part of the process.
Through self-contemplation and inner study, we begin to observe our tendencies. By quieting the mind, we begin to increase self-awareness. Through practice, we realize ourselves. Are you ready to find your dharma?