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Demystifying dharma

Author, speaker and mentor Kitty Waters, whose mission is to inspire people to follow their passion and purpose to make a difference to this world, takes us on a journey through dharma; what it means, what it is, and how to find it for ourselves.

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Why did I feel so empty inside? I had what society told me should make me happy; a great job, a good circle of friends and family, a partner. So, why was my inner being screaming, “Is this it?” I felt like I was staring down the long barrel of a gun, and I could see my next 20 years mapped out for me; marriage, kids, a holiday a year if (I was lucky!). It made me want to run away and hide… Seriously, there must be more to life than this?

My initial way out of this was to escape, to run away from it as if it didn’t exist, to ignore the emptiness through distraction. This came in the form of drugs and alcohol until my body could take it no more. My breakdown lead to a breakthrough and a new way of living. I started following what lit me up rather than what I felt I should be doing. It’s such a simple concept but yet, in reality, how many of us do it? With expressions like ‘following your bliss’ just adding to the glibness. But then I discovered that there was actually real meaning and depth to these seeming clichés.

According to the ancient Vedic texts, alignment with dharma is the single key to freedom from stress, fear, anxiety, worry, and suffering of all kinds. It gives rise to a deep, unshakeable inner peace. So, why do we not know about it? And how can we use this ancient wisdom in our modern-day lives?

The number of people on antidepressants is at a worldwide high. According to the World Health Organisation, depression is the leading cause of non-fatal disability on our planet. Why are so many people feeling down and disconnected from life?

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The Vedic texts describe life as being set up such that when you’re living a fulfilled life, you’re aligned with dharma; when you’re suffering, you’re creating problems for yourself and others. The universal energy force that is life means we need to maintain connection to this infinite intelligence at all times, it is a foundational principle of consciousness. So when we are out of alignment with dharma we feel it; life feels off, things are a struggle, and disconnection is a by-product.

Dharma is a term used in many Indian cultures. Dharma is a concept of central importance in Indian philosophy and religion. It has multiple meanings in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. It is difficult to provide a single concise definition for dharma, as the word has a long and varied history, and straddles a complex set of meanings and interpretations. There is no equivalent single word translation for dharma in western languages. The term ‘dharma’ I refer to comes from the Vedic texts.

“Dharma is the path of right action. Right action is the action which is of maximum benefit to the individual and the entire creation at the same time.”

So, let’s break that down a bit; the path of right action which is of maximum benefit to the individual and the entire creation at the same time. So, essentially, when we use our gifts in service to others, we come alive. A dharmic life is a blessing to the individual and to the world. Being out of alignment with dharma leads to unhappiness, misery, suffering, and ultimately, premature death. Scary but so true – think of the retired person that has no reason for being any more. If that same person had got in touch with their higher purpose on the planet, their energy and enthusiasm would be boundless, not lacking.

In the current world, only 13% of the planet are fulfilled in their work. This means that 87% of the population is out of alignment with dharma (Gallup Survey 2016). No wonder depression is at a world wide high. 87% of the planet are going through the motions on a daily basis but not really enjoying their lives. Maybe they’re ruled by fear, or struggling to stay alive, disconnected from the universal energy flow of life by being out of alignment with themselves, doing what they think they should be doing rather than what they dream of doing.

There is a lot of work to be done on the planet. By doing our dharma we live our best lives, we work in alignment with our gifts and serve others. The whole world is lifted up by our actions. I now live by the motto: “Magic is believing in ourselves. If we can do that, we can do anything.” What you believe truly makes a difference. It creates the foundations for your reality.

There is a saying that goes “whether you believe you can or you can’t, either way you’ll be right.” That’s how powerful it is. Your beliefs carry weight in creating your life and everything that happens along the way. Before I could do my dharma I had to deal with the beliefs I held onto; that I couldn’t make money from my passions, that I had to have a proper job and company, not one that didn’t feel like work!

Really the answers lie within, and we all have access to this lucid and rich store of insights. We don’t need to go looking outside of ourselves to solve our life’s problems and challenges. Doing so only gives our power away and can end up taking us on a path that is far removed from our soul’s true purpose.

Photo: Ahmet Sali

We can be the change we wish to see in the world by changing ourselves. It really all begins by creating the conditions to allow our inner wisdom and soul’s calling to surface. We just need to remember our potential to tune into this source, listen intently, and then have the courage to act upon our soul’s wisdom.

Messages comes through four gateways: Mind, Body, Spirit and Emotions.

We have all experienced an intuitive ‘hit’ – times when we have actually listened and acted on our intuition with the best possible outcome. It’s likely that we’ve also experienced many more intuitive ‘misses’, where we have received an inner knowing, but failed to listen or act upon it for one reason or another.

Historically people had mid-life crises rushing out to buy fast cars to try and fulfil themselves or quitting their jobs because the money just wasn’t enough any more. Nowadays, this is happening younger and younger with Millennials not even entertaining working for a business that isn’t ethically sound, they are driven by purpose not profit. As our wake-up calls get younger, the need to spread the concept of dharma becomes more critical.

Now, I live by my inner wisdom, when something feels good I do more of it and when it feels off I do less and change course. My life has changed from one of ‘should’ to one of ‘loves’; I travel the world doing what I love with it not feeling like work. I sometimes pinch myself at the lightness of it all.

My wake-up call came in the from a breakdown a dramatic re-correction, don’t let it get to that – listen to what you inner voice is saying as it will guide you well, your soul knows the way.

Words: Kitty Waters

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