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What Path are You Walking?

Following Dharma

What path are you walking? This question is simple yet expansive, one worth asking daily, a kind of check-in to be sure we’re in tune. Lately I have a strong sense that overall, I am walking a path that is truly meant for me, that my life is aligning beautifully as I put in efforts that reflect my deepest values. I was reminded of this recently as I picked up a book I hadn’t visited in a while, with no intention, just opened it up and was smiled upon by one of my favorite passages. That book is the Bhagavad Gita, a text full of grand reminders.

The Bhagavad Gita is one of the central texts of yogic philosophy, one that tells the story of the Warrior Arjuna and Lord Krishna. Arjuna is struggling internally as he faces a battle he does not want to fight, and Krishna counsels him, imparting wisdom and working to convince him to examine and carry out his true purpose. The verse below is a shot to the heart that touches on the topic of deep purpose, one’s life path, one’s dharma:

Chapter 3, Verse 35:
It is better to perform one’s own dharma imperfectly
than to perform another’s dharma perfectly. 
It is better to die in one’s own dharma, one’s own path...
Following another’s path is perilous.

This path, dharma, is rich and layered. As Stephen Cope puts it: 

Yogis insist that every single human being has a unique vocation. They call this dharma. Dharma is a potent Sanskirt word that is packed tight with meaning, like one of those little sponge animals that expands to six times its original size when add water. Dharma means, variously, “path,” “teaching,” or “law.” For our purposes … it will mean primarily “vocation,” or “sacred duty.” It means, most of all—and in all cases—truth. Yogis believe that our greatest responsibility in life is to this inner possibility—this dharma—and they believe that every human being’s duty is to utterly, fully, and completely embody his own idiosyncratic dharma.

So, what is your dharma? Not what someone else told you that you could do, should do, might do, couldn’t do, wouldn’t do. Not what is safe or what is easy. Not what society says is successful. Not what you’re guilted into or expected to do. Not what would shock or show them. What is your heart’s deepest truth, your calling, your dharma? 

No matter what route we take, life will be difficult at times, sacrifices have to be made, hurt happens. But if we are on a path that we know to be true, if we are in relationship with our highest self, stretching every day into purpose, that hard work can be done with a smile, we can rest knowing it’s worth it, we can find a welcoming home within the self. 

Once you realize your particular dharma, commit to it with full heart and dedicate your energy to following it. Then, let go of attachments to outcome. What path are you walking? Walk your path, take action mindfully, and when balance calls for surrender, let it go.