What Is Dharma?

Silvia Mordini
What Is Dharma?

This idea of dharma—‘knowing why we are here’—requires action to move us forward. Literally translated, the word karma means ‘action.’ It comes from the Sanskrit root ‘kr,’ which means ‘to act.’

The action of karma includes the movement of our bodies and the movement of our thoughts. However, the paradox is that we will never know for sure what our purpose is without at least testing the choices that drive our karma.

Every day, we have opportunities to take action. Fiery situations arise that help us burn off some karma. Our actions can prompt better questions to ask ourselves regarding our true dharma.

Instead of Seeking Answers, Live the Questions

Often, people come to yoga hoping to find answers in the poses. The poses, however, are the questions. Poses make us aware of our attitudinal alignment. They ask us the fundamental question of whether or not we are focusing on our own dharma.

Mandy Steward said, “Watch the ones whose only option left is to lean into the questions. The ones who are uninhibited by the unknown because they’ve jumped into that gaping hole and found themselves, by grace, unswallowable.”

“Watch the ones who willingly stand with Feist and say, ‘I feel it all,’ even when it scares the shit out of them. It’s not brave to have answers.”

Dharma Means ‘That Which Holds’

Dharma holds us in place to promote order in the universe. Think of dharma as your vision statement that guides your responsibility and duty to the world around you. There is an implied discipline to remain in alignment with your unique contribution.

Knowing your dharma and living from the confidence of self-awareness gives us the infinite strength we need to contribute in a positive way to the world. It relieves social comparison and competition.

Verse 3.35 of the Bhagavad Ghita states that a happy person follows his or her own path: “One’s own duty, performed imperfectly, is better than doing another’s duty perfectly.” This means it is our responsibility to live our dharma. Sustainable happiness depends upon your dharma.

Are You Staying on Your Path and Living Your Vision Statement?

According to the Bhagavad Gita, “Yoga is the journey of the self, to the self, through the self.”

In other words, yoga helps reveal the self to the self: so that we wake up to our own truth. We awaken first to ourselves, then we have the courage to accept the karma of our dharma to be our most authentic selves out in the world.

Krishna from the Bhagavad Gita reiterates, “It is better to strive in one’s own dharma than to succeed in the dharma of another. Nothing is ever lost in following one’s own dharma. But competition in another’s dharma breeds fear and insecurity."

Nothing is better for a warrior, than a battle of sacred duty. ~Bhagavad Gita

Tapping into your own creative potential, and understanding why you are here is what yogis call “Sva-Dharma” or ‘self-duty.’ I couldn’t think of a more daring thing to do.