But what is it? And how do you do that?
Dharma is a particularly complicated theory because it crosses languages and religions originating in the Vedic texts between 1000 - 1500 BCE. Clearly with history this long some adaptations are bound to occur, but I personally identify with the Vedic and Hinduism application of this word meaning "the natural order that makes life possible". Think of it like this, everything we do has a consequence, be it beneficial or detrimental to our lives. These actions create our world as they ripple moving beyond us through our children, friends, neighbors and media, shaping our tomorrows. This is the natural order that makes life possible. If you choose to live in harmony with the natural order of the world and your own individual dharma life becomes relaxed, enjoyable and full. When you choose to live against the natural order of life you are often met with unnecessary challenges. This is where getting to know your dharmic role is useful.
Most of us have had that job or relationship where we feel "the constant grind" and while we are not always in a place to take immediate action we know something has to shift. Here you are living against your dharma. There are several aspects to living your dharma. There is the broad piece, what is right for the whole, these are the global aspects. Like protecting our water supply, living softly by only taking and using what you need, reducing waste, etc. Then there is the societal piece, the piece that allows you to participate more locally. This includes things like paying taxes and working, while these may not seem like spiritual aspects in our current human lives but they are necessary for our current societal structure to function (on some level - couldn't resist). Next there is the family/relationship piece, the way you interact with those around you and the roles you take in their lives. This one is pretty straight forward for example, if you are a father there are certain requirements that accompany the successful growth and development of the child(ren). Finally there is your inner being, the soul space. These are the hardest roles to define. Mostly because they require contemplation without judgment, and they shift depending on the things listed above. Certainly your dharmic role is different at 25 than at 75. But beyond all of that at the your core of your being you have a job to do, a purpose for coming to this planet. You know you have tapped into this when the actions you take fill you with lasting joy and inherent abundance. These are the things that you keep hearing your conscious say, the things that you know you cannot stop working toward until it has been born into this world.
This almost always feel overwhelming and contradictory. How can I truly do what I know I need to do to be happy when I have all of these other responsibilities like loans, or mouths feed? The truth is some of the experiences we are all currently dealing with were necessary at one time. In order to bring us to the place where we can now shift perspective. You will still need to pay on your loans and feed your children (if you have them). However, you can still take steps to realize your inner dharma while honoring the outer aspects of dharma that are present in our world today. To begin this process you will need to learn how to sit alone without being lonely, without distraction. If you have a joyfully chaotic house like I do the noise will rarely stop and that's OK, you don't have to control it. Instead find your space, maybe even in a closet (not a bathroom...they are gross and not great for centered breathing), grab a pillow, chair or blanket to sit on. Just breathe focusing on that sound until you are notice you are aware of the other sounds but not listening them. Keep doing this as often as possible, daily is ideal but not always realistic. This first step is to begin to create space mentally between your active thoughts and observing what comes and goes. Once you get the hang of this begin to reflect by writing down anything of interest, maybe things that often come up, or even things that surprise you because they have been hidden so long you forgot they were apart of you. Then begin to sit with the intention to know your dharma. Ask yourself questions like when am I at my happiest? What is responsible for that sensation? Is It internal or external happiness? What can I do today to authentically bring that joy to the surface? Overtime you will find that there is a common thread that weaves your purpose and joy together. It maybe saving the planet by reducing waste, or helping develop programs for children, or creating efficient ways to harness energy. Maybe it is as simple as meeting your neighbor and inviting them for coffee. But whatever it is for you, it will bring you joy and peace, and that is how you'll know you've tapped into your dharma.
But what is it? And how do you do that?