Many have heard of karma, although often mistaken. A lot fewer know of dharma.
The direct translation of dharma is ‘rightful action’ or rightful direction’. Termed in everyday English, we might say ‘life purpose’ or ‘life mission’.
My loose definition is one’s path of least resistance, the way of integrity and the path that leads one to become more wholesome and loving.
Each has our dharma, and the variables are infinite. Personality types and other egoic structures will influence one’s vision of the path. Quietening the mind with meditation and dedicated contemplation will free the space to answer the question with more sovereignty.
“There is a life-force within your soul, seek that life.
There is a gem in the mountain of your body, seek that
O traveller, if you are in search of That
Don’t look outside, look inside yourself and seek That.”
Below is a list of questions I’d invite you to ask yourself. Thoughtfully answering the questions will yield results that can be contemplated on.
The questions are split into ‘doing’ and ‘being’, appealing to both a pragmatic and abstract process of thinking. The varying conscious developments of individuals will interpret the questions by the meaning they give them.
The engagement of a person – a linear reality of existence
- If my survival needs were met, what would I be doing with my life?
- What qualities in others, inspire me?
- If I were to go back in time, what would I study?
- If I had the opportunity to go back to the age of 16 with the consciousness I have now, what would I do?
- If I could magically download skills from the ether, what would I download?
- If you had one wish from a genie, what would it be? (avoid collective abstraction such as ‘end world poverty’ on this one)
- What do I love doing for its own sake, not for the end reward or destination?
- What activities replenish me?
- What comes naturally to you?
- What does my attention get called to?
The essence of a person – a non-linear reality of existence
- If I could release all of my baggage, who would I choose to be?
- What do I find the most beauty in?
- Where have I felt the most satisfaction in my life?
- At one point in my life have I been happiest? And what would I bring here from that experience?
- If I were to live forever, what advice would I give to every passing soul?
- What inspires me about others?
- What qualities would I improve in everyone if I had the capacity?
- What are the most pressing issues with the world?
- What does sacred mean to me? And what do I hold most sacred?
- What would I sacrifice myself for?
It may also be worthwhile asking yourself ‘why’ to all of these questions.
Aligning with your Dharma
To live to one’s dharma means living in greater alignment to one’s values. Self-awareness, enhanced by contemplating on such questions as above, creates the sovereignty required to live a fuller life.
Your life purpose may not be a linear process. As we evolve, adapt, grow and expand our dharma may take on higher levels of complexity to fulfil higher ends. We should not suppose that answering the questions at age 25 should lay down the foundation for a life path at the age of 40. Although for many, the intrinsic link will be clear.
It may also be worthwhile noticing how our perceived life traumas or existential crisis can often be embedded in the unfolding of our dharma. Understanding that the Universe radiates its light into our darkness should answer Einstein’s question – “Do you live in a friendly or hostile universe?’
Your answers may not clarify what you need to do as the next step in life. But the questions will create a groundwork to build a closer relationship with yourself and an increasing level of meaning.