In The Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna, a fierce warrior about to go into battle and reclaim a kingdom stolen by way of many injustices, becomes overwhelmed by the responsibility of the task at hand. Overcome with hopelessness, Arjuna asks his charioteer, Krishna: “Why must I engage in this terrible war? What will be the consequences of the pain I will cause in this fight? What if I die? What is the meaning of all of this?”
The conversation that follows between Arjuna and Krishna is one of vulnerability and acceptance, as Arjuna slowly begins to understand the laws of the universe and his own innate role within it. Krishna explains that all things in the world carry within it its own unique potential, and it is their dharma ― individual mission or purpose ― to fulfill it.
Okay, Krishna, that sounds wonderful, but HOW?!
Krishna shares we must embrace our dharma; only we are able to live our own heart’s true calling. We must live our dharma full-out and let go of the fruits of our actions. When our minds focus on the outcome of our efforts, we begin to falsely identify ourselves with success, fame, fortune, etc. Our ego and self-worth become attached to these efforts, and our choices become a matter of life or death. Instead, Krishna says to live your dharma with pure love and devotion; when we surrender our need for results, we feel gratitude for whatever happens.
We can all learn from Arjuna’s struggle and the wisdom of Krishna as we each embark on our own paths. The Bhagavad Gita reminds us that we each are faced with our own internal and external battles which make us question our life’s purpose. As one of my teachers once said, it is not our duty to question our dharma, but instead it is our duty to question, what I am going to do with it? How will I engage with my potential and share it with the world? How will I move out of my own illusions and move into my own divinity?
Krishna imparts that fighting for a noble cause is the highest act of honor for the dharma of a Warrior, and it is Arjuna’s destiny. Krishna states it is better to live one’s own dharma poorly than another person’s dharma well; it is our responsibility to our individual happiness to live our dharma, and it is our greatest contribution to the world to actively play a part offering our finest skills and talents. Staying on course requires hard work and dedication, however when we surrender the need for results, we are able to go along for, and enjoy the ride. After all, the act of pursuing and sharing our dharma is a gift in itself!
Like Arjuna, we each have a potential that lies within us. We all must take ownership of the choices we make in pursuit of aligning with our highest Self, and stepping into that vulnerability is scary. Like Arjuna, we all have insecurities, doubts, worries, and are frightened of our potential. But we are also like Krishna ― all-knowing, divine, and full of devotion. When we begin to see ourselves like Krishna would, we are able to live our potential with grace and love. Once we understand we are part of the universe’s creation and the role we play within it, living our dharma becomes an act of personal freedom and celebration.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Dharma is not your career, although your career may be a way in which your dharma manifests. Dharma is not what you do, but how you optimize your potential to engage with and contribute to the world’s Peace, Love, Joy, Truth, and Light.Find a comfortable seat, close your eyes, and draw your awareness to the heart space. Let each inhale draw you deeper inside your heart, and invite the wisdom within to be revealed with each exhale.As you breathe, reflect on the below.What brings you joy? Remember the experiences that make your heart feel open, radiant, and alive.What takes you away from your bliss? Look at the thoughts, behaviors, activities, and people in your life that build toxic or negative energy.How do you like to engage with the world? Do you like to bring people together? Make the show run behind the scenes? Be in the limelight? Fight for causes? Offer services and tools to help others?Who are your heroes and role models? Identify the qualities they embody. How could you begin to manifest these traits in your day-to-day?Look at the bigger picture of your life events. Of the experiences that have brought you the most fulfillment, see where the similarities lie.
Written by Shayna Freedman