In recent times, a common theme keeps surfacing in our spiritual circles: the need to find yourself, your purpose, nature, contribution and calling. Here’s an exercise: grab a piece of paper, pick up a pen, and quickly scribble down your name using your non-writing hand. Unless you’re ambidextrous, the experience is pretty much universal – its slow and tiring, requires excessive effort and attention, feels uncomfortable and abnormal, and usually concludes in a lousy-looking attempt. This is exactly the experience when we operate outside of our ‘dharma’ – the Sanskrit word for nature, calling, and unique function in life. We live in a noisy world, and, in the midst of it, struggle to hear the heart. Ironically, tuning into our inner calling is where the real journey begins, otherwise we may well be careering down a no-through road. Happy and fulfilled people utilize wisdom and guidance to accurately understand what makes them tick. Its a simple but neglected principle of life.
The problem can, however, linger on beyond this. Just as difficult as finding your dharma, is to wholeheartedly dedicate yourself to living your dharma. Even when we know what we are “hard-wired” for, too many things deviate us from the path we should be treading. The expectations of others, the desire for praise and accolade, the restlessness and intrigue of trying new things, and the perpetual delusion that the grass is greener on the other side – all factors which lure us towards the unnatural, and set us up for letdown, disappointment and underachievement. Honest living is about doing whatever you were meant to do in the world, however big or small, in whatever field or arena, regardless of pressure and public opinion. Everyone, without exception, has something unique to bring to the table. We only have to find it and feed it.
And a couple of final footnotes on ‘dharma’:
- Comfort – Dharmic living doesn’t mean boring living, or average living, or avoidance of challenge and discomfort. It’s actually quite the opposite – to capitalize on strengths, protect our weaknesses, develop naturally, and focus all energy in a way which yields maximum impact. In the search for ‘dharma’ we should not become lazy or lethargic – it’s meant to be a life which dynamically bends you, without breaking you.
- Rigidity – Dharmic living incorporates the willingness, flexibility and readiness to sometimes act outside of our dharma. The spirit of sacrifice is at the heart of character development. In fact, being strongly situated in our dharma, should render us more capable and qualified to respond to the unpredictable needs of the day. Following your dharma should not be an excuse to circumvent the essential mood of being an approachable, selfless servant.