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"When one experiences truth, the madness of finding faults with others disappears" - S.N. Goenka.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Dharma - Our Individual Life Purpose

Deepak Chopra explains the Law of Dharma:
The seventh spiritual law of success is the Law of Dharma. (Dharma is a Sanskrit word that means "purpose in life.") This law says that we have taken manifestation in physical form to fulfill a purpose.  You have a unique talent and a unique way of expressing it.  There is something that you can do better than anyone else in the whole world - and the creative expression of your talent is the spark that creates affluence.  Expressing your talents to fulfill needs creates unlimited wealth and abundance.  There are three components to the Law of Dharma. The first says that each of us is here to discover our true Self.  The second component is to express our unique talents; the expression of that talent takes you into timeless awareness.  The third component is service to humanity.  When you combine the ability to express your unique talent with service to humanity, then you make full use of the Law of Dharma.

Congratulations, Mr. Chopra, (someday I hope we are on a first name basis, Deepak).  You wrapped one of the most loaded words in any language (purpose) into a pretty little simplified package.  I embrace it, accept it and love it, but maybe you’re missing one very significant part. What if we’re one of the (gazillion) unfortunate ones who spend a lifetime trying to figure out what our dharma is? What if we are always chasing an elusive goal and seeking an underlying purpose?  How many times in my life have I said,  “This is it!” or  “I’ve finally figure out what I’m supposed to do with my life!” Only to turn around, practically seconds later, and say, “This definitely isn’t it.”

More than is worth counting.

I was contemplating this while sitting in the doctor’s office, waiting for the radiologist to deliver promising news about my right breast.   One short week had brought a whirlwind of emotions.  After the phone call, and my moment of zen on the sofa –which consisted of stars, sun and earth – I was convinced of my untimely early death.  I stood and did what any strong-minded person would do in such a moment – I sulked.  After the pity fest, I reflected on all my past accomplishments while mulling over future goals (that may, of course, never be realized).  Fortunately it didn’t take long to regain my sanity and gather all my senses.  It was time to find the opportunity in this otherwise, confusing and frustrating situation. What was the lesson? I had come to fully embrace the idea of just “being”, (as quoted by Dr. Wayne Dyer) in my last blog post.  Was this “death” scare purpose and being beginning a dance together?  As always, these moments of zen tend to be fleeting, and soon again, I was agonizing over what to do for the rest of my LONG life.  Death and cancer took a back seat, until a week later when they sat on either side of me in the waiting room of the Nyack Breast Center.

“This birthday sparked a premature, and somewhat benign mid-life crisis,” I thought.

I began to read a book hoping to distract myself from the pursuit Dharma while drowning out the C word.  A page had barely been read when the nurse’s voice startled me by saying, “Ms. Vendrame, there’s a friend here to see you.”  “What?” I was confused and thought to myself, “Surely I misheard her. Nobody I know could be here right now.” Before getting clarification from the nurse, my dear friend, Lisa, walked through the door with a smile that lit up the room. Questions accompanied absolute disbelief.  “Are you kidding me?  What are you doing here?  How did you even know I was here?” We hugged for a bit longer than usual. I tried to verbally express my heart-felt gratitude. At that very fragile moment, in shock, I was barely able to string together two sentences to express my deep appreciation. But she knew and later the words found themselves. 

While Lisa’s support and love were present, I also remembered my friend and neighbor, Cara. She was watching my girls while I was away.   My mind drifted to my mother-in-law and husband; both texting nonstop, desperate for Doctor’s answers, but asking in ways that helped me smile.  At that moment of reflection much of what I learned, read and preached sprang to life.

We can read the same message in a thousand different forms have it told to us in plain and obvious language, but it will pass right through us until we accept the pleasure of fully experiencing it with complete awareness.

What if just being translates into living our purpose, our dharma?  What if our purpose has always been with us but we haven’t had the awareness to fully experience it?  Like Dorothy’s ruby slippers –she always held the answer.  It was with her from the beginning of her journey.  She held the power to return home. No one else could get her there.  Yet she searched with desperation all over the land of make-believe before fully realizing her own inner wisdom. 

Sometimes we need a wizard to tell us or show us a hundred different ways before we notice our ruby slippers.   

What if  - “Everything We We Need” is really  “What We Already Have?”  What if all we need is to believe and Trust Our Truth?  What if living from that place of inner compassion, love, peace and tranquility – transmits those elements into our world?  Doesn’t a deep connection with each other through greater awareness raise our collective consciousness?  Wouldn’t that be a fulfilling purpose?

I walked out of the Nyack Breast Center that day differently than when I walked in.  There was nothing life threatening about my right breast – unless dense breast tissue poses a health risk.   “Everything looks good, we’ll see you in a year,” the doctor confirmed, as I wrapped the white robe around my waist. 

Leaving the office and walking down the hall, I paused by the elevator and hesitated for a moment before pressing the down arrow button.  Closing my eyes, I took a deep breath and listened to the silence.  A whisper came,  “Stop searching for the answer, you are living it!  The more you keep chasing something for the future, the less you’ll be present to what is in here – right beside your right breast.  Listen to your heart.  Tomorrow isn’t any better than today, just like today isn’t any more significant than yesterday.  But fretting about what you NEED to be doing is wasting precious time, the searching will never end, and today will always be lost amongst the sorrow of desire.  Embrace this and life will blossom, living each moment purposefully and dharma will reveal itself.”

And Dharma did.  When I released control, gave into Trust, and surrendered to Faith, I discovered the sacred in everyday life.  This courageous leap of faith led me into uncharted territory.  Standing at the edge of a precipice and looking out over the abyss without fearing the unknown.  

I'm curious. Who feels like they're living their purpose?  who has yet to figure it out?  who is in a place of conflict?  and who doesn't even believe in this thing called purpose anyway?  Let's start a discussion.


Ron Davison said...

Good news and bad news? You've got decades more to live. Funny and thought provoking.
I am a big fan of flow, of engagement, as a compass for what we're supposed to do. I guess in terms of this post, I advocate flow as a means of discovering your purpose. You might get a kick out of this conversation of mine with my invisible friend, the octogenarian Bernard.

Peter said...

Val, thank you for writing this entry in your blog. What a powerful thought to think "stop searching for the answer, you are living it!".

I hope everyone finds peace and we learn to live with open hearts and with a profound feeling of being connected to each other.

Anonymous said...

Dear Val,
I'm so happy for your good news, first of all. I think these moments of panic really do serve a purpose by giving us a little head slap that makes us look around us at all that we have, and all that we cherish.

As for purpose, maybe its just that I am older than you, but I know that after my children were born, I stopped searching my life for that one "goal" or one "purpose". Looking at them, it was clear that my purpose had been achieved! Eventually, I have learned to look back each night on the day that has just closed. I can almost always find a moment, a conversation, a connection that gives both meaning and purpose to the day.
Your purpose is to live you life. That's all!
Wishing you peace,

Tim said...

Hi Val, I am new to your blog (thank Pete for that), and I am on vacation, finally taking the time to ponder questions very much like this. I know that means that I do not always live "in the now", but I do my best. Here is a thought: I wonder if there is truly only one Dharma in our lives, or if we can live in pursuit of several at the same time.

For example, I have two beautiful young daughters, and I feel that one of my life's purposes is wrapped around making sure that I provide the best atomosphere for them to explore who they are and who they want to be, what excites and engages them, and protect them from some of the pitfalls of anger, resentment and fear, while letting them see the world with all of it's faults. (And perhaps, teaching them not to use run-on sentences...) And I am REALLY GOOD at it. I see the things that my kids do, think, and feel, and I know that I have played a role in that. I'm sure that, just like my parents and their parents, that I will also transfer some "baggage" to them that could hinder them as the years pass. But I feel like my own discovery and exploration of that reality has helped me to formulate an approach to teaching my children (and myself) about the divine flaws we all have. My wife calls it "honoring you faults", and I think being able to do so is a key to loving yourself. I am definately doing well in teaching my children this, and they are so much further along with that than I was at their age. So I am fulfilling my Dharma in that respect.

Yet in my professional life, I still feel as if my Dharma eludes me. Sure, some would say that it is simply a means to an end, and that your Dharma and life force should not be wrapped up in your pursuit of the material. But I don't think it is. I want to make money, but not just so I can have things, but so I can provide for my family. Still, I am not doing my life's work.

I am good at talking and fairly likable, so I am in sales. And because of those attributes, I am good at my job. But it is not my passion or reason for being. In fact, though I have had several careers, and I have spent countless hours searching for my purpose in work and service, I have never found my true calling. And I'm not sure I ever will, which is somewhat frustrating. My wife and I, both in our 40s, are both dealing with this, though her life's calling is clear: Teaching. Problem is, no teaching jobs...

So I feel that I have several Dharmas. In fact, others too - including relationships with friends and family, stewardship of the Earth, etc. It doesn't have the dramatic flare of "life's one true purpose", but then I'm just not sure that I was put on this Earth to fulfill one purpose, but maybe many. And perhaps I'm not the person who can do one thing better than anyone else, all apologies to Deepak. That just seems too much like a Hollywood movie. "One man, one purpose. Only he can save the world...". I think my Dharma is more like the Marine tagline "Be all you can be." Thank you for the excellent story and discussion starter. I look forward to following your blog!



Jim said...

I read recently"fuck balance, just be present". I have been seeking balance between family, work, a recovery program I am part of, gym, friends, blah blah, and making up for behaviors that caused me to embrace that recovery program in the first place. I always fall short, though not over. Perhaps my Dahrma is right in front of me everyday and by being present and trusting myself to give in to the minute, hour, whatever is required, and perhaps more important, not required, I will discover an inner peace instead of balance. I agree with Tim, we have several Dahrmas at work, and we may leave a trail of them for others to learn from and be inspired by.
Thanks Val.


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