Eastern wisdom traditions, like Vedanta for example, have a concept that I think is great. The idea of Dharma. It can have several different meanings and I wanted to touch on just a few facets as I understand them. It is a Universal Law or call it what suits you, like one of God’s Laws, Law of the Great Spirit, or Brahman. There are many more!
Dharma is the role and function you are born to live. For example, every cell in your body has a dharma. When it fulfills its unique role the success of the whole is much more likely. According to Vedic traditions you also have a perfect role to play. And, we accomplish this by being none other than ourselves and by exploring, listening, discovering and working with what really excites us.
“You can call a part a whole, but never a part.” I heard this while studying Traditional Chinese Medicine. Very strange thought after 9 years of pharmacy training! But, as medical theories go it has withstood the test of thousands of years. What is true for your cells is also true for you, the big You.
The advice to do what you love sounds like the right path from this perspective. The wisdom traditions tell us when you are living your Dharma, you and all those around you have their lives enriched, beautified and good things flow to and from you more easily.
Why second chances? In 1992 I had just finished a clinical psychiatric pharmacy residency and a few weeks later I attended a 10 day silent Vipassana meditation retreat. The retreat, the technique and its lessons made more sense to me then anything I had encountered in my life up to that point when I considered me, my friends and family. Also, it had more benefits, physical, psychological, and spiritual and was proving itself more beneficial than 9 years training as a healthcare practitioner.
I was so excited, and when I got home to tell my folks. I told them I wanted to devote my life to the teaching, research and practice of meditation. This was an especially prickly moment because I also just decided to opt out of an additional 2 year fellowship! My mother replied, “You can’t do that. You just spent 9 years in school studying something else!” We had some history together and I folded, and started living a sort of split existence. You know how those turn out!
Well, last week I became a Chopra certified meditation teacher. I feel a deep rightness and am looking forward to taking this gift back to the world. My advice (even though you didn’t ask) – keep listening to your heart, and look critically at the results you are getting in your life. Be true to who you were born to be!