Dharma – December 4 2017

Dharma, which some people mistranslate as “duty,” others as “religion,” and yet others as “vocation,” is really “doing what you are born to do.” “Conforming to your dharma” means following that path through life and performing those actions that best agree with you as an individual in the context of the environment in which you exist. Dharma is the universal law which makes a thing what it is. The dharma of the moon to shine, of volcanoes to erupt, of boats to float, and of hyenas to laugh. Horses run, whinny, and toss their manes because it is their dharma to do so, not because they feel any moral obligation in that direction.
Robert E. Svoboda,
Aghora III: The Law of Karma
Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.
Oscar Wilde
We all come into life with a set of traits, with a ‘self’ already present. Then we begin to be trained. We are trained by our parents how to sleep through the night, how to be hungry at mealtimes, what to do with our emotions, how to speak to authority. Those of us who were raised in a religion were taught how to think of God and how to communicate with God, and what God ‘thought’ of us. From movies, TV and music we learned what was ‘cool.’
All of this is absolutely appropriate. It is the way of life. From baby monkeys learning what fruits and insects to eat, to lion cubs being taught to hunt, this is the way of nature. Life, whether human or animal, is led in a direction through observation and encouragement (or by discouragement of another direction); then, after having the basics shown by someone in authority, life moves forward on its own. We hunt/gather/study/work/dance/love/ride the bicycle the way we’ve been shown, and as we move forward, we find our own way and begin to fulfill that self we were from the beginning. 
Where we as humans sometimes go wrong is when we continue to look too much for guidance outside our self, and this often then takes the form of seeking approval in the eyes of some other person or group; and what this approval-seeking requires is that we speculate as to what someone thinks of us. I can’t actually know what you are thinking, but I can imagine what you are thinking. I can imagine how you might like me to do something. I can become a detective of you, reading your body language, your facial expressions, reading between the lines of what you are saying, and imagining what you are saying about me when I am not there.
All of this is an incredible amount of work and accomplishes so very little. And what we miss by engaging in this sort of behavior is the extraordinary system that Life has given us for guidance – what we call our fine level of feeling. This is the inner gyroscope that tells us wrong from right. Not right or wrong in the sense of an over-arching morality, but right or wrong for each of us as an individual. 
What Joseph Campbell calls ‘your bliss,’ as in ‘Follow your bliss.’
When we are doing what we are meant to be doing, when we are being who and what we have been designed for, it feels right. Life, or nature, or God, or our Higher Self, whichever name works for you, has put us here for a purpose. When we are aligned with that purpose, we experience the feeling of rightness. Of bliss. 
Our job is to pay attention to this inner guidance so that we may embrace our purpose. It’s not something to be figured out, nor is it something to learn from a book or a teacher, though our process may be helped by any of these; it is something to be felt deep within.
We meditate, clearing away all that is not the truth of our Self, daily having an experience of this rich, inner place; and we stop speculating. We stop thinking about what someone else might be thinking. We get busy with the business of being who we are, because who we are, rather than who we think we should be, is what the world needs from us.
Today I will notice when I am in speculation, trying to figure out what to do, and I will step out of my thinking and get present in my body. I will ask for guidance from something other than my mind and then I will step forward, knowing guidance will be there from within.
Adele in Woods, Thousand Islands, Ontario, Canada
All original material copyright © 2017 Jeff Kober