"It is better to live your own Dharma imperfectly, than to live an imitation of somebody else's life with perfection." -Bhagavad Gita
What is Dharma?
Dharma is a Sanskrit word that loosely translates to righteous living, but the original word itself has a far deeper meaning than its direct translation. The ancient Hindu texts of The Vedas describe Dharma as an inner wisdom, or a cosmic guidance that governs not only the individual, but the universe itself.
For a person to follow her Dharma, all she needs to do is to follow that inner guidance. Easy, right? Not always.
The reason why you might find it difficult to listen to that inner voice is because there are so many other voices vying for your attention. There's the voice of your own mind, the voices of the people around you, the voice of culture ingrained through generations, the voice of your conscience, the voices of beliefs and expectations and a whole cacophony of others.
So how do you discover your Dharma, despite all those other voices?
Here are the five paths you can take to find your true Dharma. You can adopt one or all of the following, to take your first steps on the path to your purpose. When you consciously take each step, the path itself will start to pull you forward in the right direction. Walking this path is not about success, but about harmony — with yourself, your thoughts, your words and in your actions.
1. The Path of Joy
This is the easiest path to your purpose. Think about what makes you feel excited, alive, awake. Books? Food? Travel? Wherever your joy is, that's where your purpose lies. Your soul speaks in your emotions, so listen to them. When you are faced with a choice between fear and joy, always follow your joy. Find those things that fill you with joy and your purpose will find you!
2. The Path of Synchronicity
Synchronicity is a sign that the universe uses to show you that you're on the right path, the one that is aligned with your Dharma. We are always guided through our next step — we just need to follow those guiding lights. Synchronistic coincidences are guiding lights along the path to your purpose.
3. The Path of Letting Go
Letting go is the most essential path to your purpose. You've probably heard the saying, "Letting go of what you are, to become what you might be," right? The more your life is cluttered with things, people, events and routines that no longer serve you, the more you don't have room to let in the things, people and events that show up to actually serve your true purpose. Each day, make a conscious choice to let go of something unessential, so that your life will open up to receive, recharge and realign with your purpose.
4. The Path of Practice
If you're not used to meditation (which I highly recommend), yoga may be a good daily practice to incorporate into your life. It's an ancient Vedic practice that provides techniques to not only to maintain a healthy body, but also get you onto a great beginning into the deeper secrets of the union of human consciousness with that of the universe. Or make a practice of anything else you're drawn to - walking a labyrinth, gratitude journaling, or playing the piano. It is important to work it into your schedule so it becomes a ritual.
5. The Path of Being
The busier you are watching the clock, the more important it is for you to find time to do nothing to just be. But the quality of your "nothing" matters — watching television doesn't count. Playing games on your phone doesn't count. And checking email or Facebook certainly doesn't count.
Shut off everything and simply walk away. Go to the beach for a day, take a hike, or go on a solitary retreat. Slowly learn to build these pockets of "nothing" into your every day, to invite more "being" into your life. This will provide you you with opportunities to align you with the cycles of nature, the energy of the universe, and the center of your Self — your Being.
When we strive to use our talents and gifts to express ourselves in the highest way possible, to fulfill our potential and purpose, a society full of Dharmic beings is created, who will then create a more conscious society, planet and universe.