Why am I here? Why did I incorporate into this body, this family, in the time, in this place? How can I best use my skills, abilities, knowledge and idiosyncranies to serve humankind? What will light my fire and keep it burning? For what am I willing to be “used up?”
Are these questions you have ever asked yourself? They are questions I have been struggling with answering for the past few years. Tired of thinking myself in circles, I met with a psychologist/yoga therapist to get some outside feedback. I needed some help getting out of my head. As I explained my quest to her, she informed me that I was looking for my dharma (aka sacred duty).
This was a word I had encountered briefly in the past, but I never really knew what it was. Based on her recommendation, I read The Great Work of Your Life: A guide for the journey to your true calling by Stephen Cope. It is a beautiful, beautiful book that provides lots of guidance (some of it divine) about finding your calling and purpose.
I won’t write a review of the book, except to say it’s really good and you should read it post haste. 🙂 But I do want to highlight some of the passages that especially struck me (I love the word “passage” to refer to sections of a book – gateways to expanded thought!). Page numbers are taken from the 2015 Bantam Books Trade Paperback Edition.
- Page xviii (Introduction). Regarding writing his books, Stephen says that “It seems that it was the effort required to bring them forth itself that saved me.” Having written his books did nothing for him – it was putting that work into writing them that was truly satisfying. DOING the work (not necessarily the end product) is the important thing.
- Page xxiv – “People actually feel happiest and most fulfilled when meeting the challenge of their dharma in the world, when bringing highly concentrated effort to some compelling activity for which they have a true calling.”
- Page 11 – “It increasingly begins to dawn on her that in order to find the next expression of dharma she is going to have to take a leap of some kind.” Page 38 – “…Dharma always involves, at some point, a leap off a cliff in the dark.”
- Page 16 – “Success and failure in the eyes of the world are not your concern. “Better to fail at your dharma than to succeed at the dharma of someone else,” he says.”” The “he” in that sentence is Krishna (aka God). Smart guy.
- Page 32 – “We have a responsibility to The Gift. The Gift is God in disguise.”
- Page 36 – “Each one of us matters, has a role to play, and makes a difference.”
- Page 42 – “We only know who we are by trying on various versions of ourselves.”
- Page 44 – “”Be resolutely and faithfully what you are,” said Thoreau – not who you think you should be.”
- Page 46 – An explanation of Indra’s Net. We are all jewels on an interconnected web, shining forth onto others and reflecting all the other jewels in the net. “The action of each individual soul holds together the entire net. Small and large at the same time.”
- Page 47 – “Our actions in expression of our dharma…are infinitely important….They create the world.”
- Page 56 – “Careful attunement to dharma will demand that we reinvent ourselves periodically throughout life.”
- Page 62 – “…(ambivalence, it turns out, is an unavoidable companion in the search for a new dharma).”
- Page 64 – “Each of us feels some aspect of the world’s suffering acutely. It tears at our hearts.” “This little corner of the world is ours to transform. This little corner of the world is ours to save.”
Well, I will stop at Lucky 13. This covers my highlights from the first 1/4 of the book. I will write more starting with The Second Pillar: “Do It Full Out!”
What do you think your dharma is? Have you found it? If so, how?