IN MANY EASTERN PHILOSOPHIES, dharma refers to the fundamental laws that govern and sustain the universe. The word dharma comes from ancient Sanskrit and literally means “pillar” — that which upholds. Therefore, whatever upholds the harmony of all life is considered dharmic and contributes to the expansion of joy, love and tranquility.
Like many Sanskrit words, dharma has many layers of meaning, and so it also commonly refers to our purpose in life and the unique talent we were born to express. Following our dharma in the deepest sense means that all of our thoughts, intentions, words and actions support our highest purpose. We’re not merely acting out of a sense of duty or obeying the laws set down by society but are behaving in integrity with our spiritual purpose. When everything that we do and think is in alignment with our dharma, we experience boundless happiness, success and love — and in turn, contribute to the harmony and wholeness of the entire universe and everyone in it.
Using Our Gifts to Serve and Heal
The spiritual Law of Dharma states that for every special talent, the world has a unique need that can only be filled by the expression of that talent. We make fullest use of the Law of Dharma by committing to serve others through our unique creative expression, in whatever form that takes. When we do so, the entire field of pure potentiality opens to us. We’re able to create as much happiness and wealth as we want because we’re in harmony with the domain of spirit, from which all manifestation flows.
We have a built-in mechanism to help us stay in alignment with our dharma: our body. When we fail to honor our commitments, our physical self sends out signs of discomfort and even pain. Headaches, anxiety, insomnia, depression, chronic fatigue and digestive disorders are a few symptoms the body may generate when we’ve forgotten to honor some clause in our contract to ourselves. However, if we’re willing to listen to the messages our body is sending to us and make choices to move back into harmony with our sacred purpose, health, love, happiness and abundance will more readily flow in our life.
In addition to the physical symptoms of the body, the universe is always sending us messages that tell us whether we’re in our dharma or have become sidetracked. Here are a few indicators that you’re living out your true purpose:
- You’re paying attention and notice when opportunities come into your life. You also take the necessary leap to take advantage of what’s presenting itself.
- Your environment supports you in your decisions. As you move forward, events fall into place to help you move in your chosen direction.
- You’re ready to move forward. You’ve outgrown your old reality and are prepared for a change.
- You feel joyful and free.
On the other hand, if you’re feeling stuck and thwarted in your efforts to move forward, you’re out of your dharma and usually experience some of the following circumstances:
- You aren’t ready to change. Even if you’re in a painful situation, for some reason you’re still attached to your current reality.
- Your mind is caught up in distractions and you aren’t paying attention. As a result, you aren’t able to pick up on the clues and guidance the field of infinite intelligence is sending to you.
- The environment won’t support you. As you try to move forward, events conspire to push you back. It’s not that the universe has any hostility for you. On the contrary, you’re lovingly supported at all times; the resistance you encounter means that there’s more for you to learn, your highest good lies in a different direction, or that the timing isn’t right yet.
- You feel scared about expanding your sense of yourself, clinging instead to the safety of a limited self-image. In fact, there’s no protection in remaining in a contracted state. Expansion is what helps you to solve problems and move forward.
- You keep identifying yourself with your past and the person you used to be, perhaps seeing yourself as too weak, limited, or undeserving to move forward. People often do this unconsciously, but since perception is everything, it prevents growth.
The best way to align with your dharma is to pay attention to nature and the universe around you. Although we tend to see ourselves as separate from the world “out there,” we’re actually seamlessly connected to it at all times. By expanding our awareness of the domain of spirit, its guidance and our dharma in this life become increasingly clear.
Deepak Chopra: Known as the prolific author of over 55 books with eighteen New York Times best sellers on mind-body health, spirituality, and peace, Times Magazine heralds Chopra as one of the top 100 heroes and icons of this century.