What is Your Dharma?

The word Dharma is a Buddhist term but its meaning is not exclusive to Buddhism. Your Dharma is your chosen path of liberation. Your path may be realized within any of the world's wisdom traditions.Your liberation is a spiritual liberation and it is a psychological / emotional liberation. It is the liberating of mind from the egocentric sense of self through spiritual teachings and their application. It is a liberation from suffering in all its forms.

Dharma is your understanding of truth as realized awareness, and as a path to that realized awareness.This is the transformation or awakening that occurs through the process of deliberate surrender. Surrender of the self or the egocentric sense of self through the acceptance of a greater awareness. This is enlightenment which is not the elimination of self but the acceptance of a greater, more compassionate authentic self. The great meditation master Chogyam Trungpa tells us in this respect, “Enlightenment is ego’s ultimate disappointment”.

Dharma is the guiding principles you use to govern your life and achieve self-realization or enlightenment. Every authentic philosophical path offers a form of guiding principles or spiritual practice. This is Dharma. Dharma is the Universal spiritual law which is the true nature of all phenomena. Dharma is the innermost laws of truth and the harmony that these truths embody. It belongs to the eternal realm of the spirit, thus we call Dharma a spiritual practice.

With time and practice, you soon see that your Dharma is most authentically realized and accessed through your own intuition. Accordingly, the discovery of one's personal Dharma is an internal experience achieved through meditation, inner examination and reflection. In this respect the Bhagavad Gita tells us, "If you bring forth what is in you, it will save you”.

Your Dharma is the work that is called forth from you at any given moment, within the nectar of each moment. In this way, your Dharma has the potential of turning your suffering into light. Your Dharma can save you.

The work performed in the thrall of Dharma, your spiritual practice, has a life of its own. Your Dharma will offer you practical solutions to the complexity of life's problems. When difficulties arrive, see them as your Dharma. Every problem we confront in life, every difficulty we may experience with another person becomes an opportunity to become more aware, to more deeply understand our Dharma. Due to the ever-changing process of life, your Dharma can change in an instant. It can change subtly and it can change dramatically. The wise Hindu Swami Vivekananda tells us on this subject, “You have to grow from the inside out. None can teach you, none can make you spiritual. There is no other teacher than your own soul”.

Dharma is the path to “waking up”. One day you wake up and realize that you are what you've been searching for. We may study a particular wisdom tradition, taught by the best of teachers but our Dharma must come from within. A good teacher, an authentic teacher will always direct us to this realization. As we wisely listen and learn, we bring all things to the test of ourselves and our own life experiences. In this way we follow our inner Guru, our own Dharma. Thus your Dharma is your special calling, your chosen path to self-fulfillment, self-realization, and ultimately enlightenment.

We must trust the special gift of our Dharma, which is the unification of thoughts, words and actions in alignment with our soul's highest calling around a central theme. This is our Dharma. Our Dharma becomes a point of radiance that unifies our life, that enables us to cultivate an "authentic spirituality”. An authentic spirituality is not about great acts or showy displays of righteousness. It is about practicing your Dharma each day to the best of your ability with a pure intention, and then letting it go. We let go in the understanding that we are nothing special when it comes to perception, realization, suffering and spiritual experience in this life.

It is our Dharma that will lead us to the path of the sacred journey or what the wonderful mythologist Joseph Campbell referred to as “The Hero's Journey”. In Christian terms it is referred to as the path of redemption and resurrection. As Jesus Christ continuously emphasized to us throughout his ministry, no human being is beyond redemption. We are all worthy of redemption as we are all worthy of compassion. We may all experience the rebirth of resurrection.

We need only ask and the door will be opened. When you want something with all your heart, you are closest to it. And so I ask, what is my Dharma? Our Dharma connects us with what we all have in common -- with what Ralph Waldo Emerson referred to as the "universal soul", "the soul of the world", or the "over soul". This soul of the world is within us all, it is the source of our Dharma and is accessible to each and everyone of us.

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Sangha Without Borders is currently physically located in London, UK