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Article XCIX: Knowing Your Dharma

"Our practice of the dharma should be a continual effort to attain a state beyond suffering." Dalai Lama

Moksha is the goal, and dharma is the way. Moksha is enlightenment, and dharma is that which allows one to approach moksha. Perfect dharma leads directly to moksha, and perfect adharma leads directly away from moksha. Most actions are in the spectrum between perfect dharma and perfect adharma. The greater the dharma in an action, the further one progresses toward moksha. The nearer one is to moksha, the greater one experiences peace. By aspiring to orient actions to dharma, one can best approach the goal of moksha.

Dharma can be translated as duty, righteousness, truth, religion, justice, or morality. Dharma can be translated as that which binds or that without which something cannot exist. Vedanta offers a framework for one to align actions with dharma. Bhakti (devotion), karma (selfless action), and jnana (knowledge) are three general approaches to dharma. One can align with dharma by performing action with devotion to God as a deity or devotion to the Divine in others. One can align with dharma by performing selfless action to diminish the ego rather than to expand the ego. One can align with dharma by utilizing the intellect to discriminate between that which leads to temporary happiness and that which leads to permanent bliss.

Vairagya (nonattachment) is another approach to align actions with dharma. One may aspire to perform action without attachment to the results of the action. One can offer the results of action to God, or one can perform action for the sake of selfless action. Attachment to the results of action causes one to be dependent on specific results and situations in order to experience transient happiness. Nonattachment to the results of actions frees one to experience eternal bliss from the Divine within.

Dharma also depends on one's attributes of vasanas (tendencies), gunas (qualities), and samskaras (impressions from past action). One can best engage in dharma by maximally utilizing one's attributes to follow bhakti, karma, jnana, or the infinitely many combinations incorporating different amounts of bhakti, karma, or jnana. Selflessness and nonattachment through bhakti, karma, jnana, or their combinations represent the framework of dharma, which one may utilize based upon one's particular attributes. Knowing your dharma is identification and utilization of one's attributes to follow this framework of Vedanta.

Eternal and infinite blissfulness is the true nature of the Atman (Self) within. Dharma is orientation to the moral compass of the Atman within. One's dharma can be realized by searching within for direction. In consideration of any action, the answers of dharma are ultimately within. Search within for dharma and follow the Atman within. The Atman is Brahman - eternal and infinite existence-consciousness-bliss (satchitananda), and that ultimate realization is enlightenment (moksha).

East-West Counseling & Meditation -- Modern Psychiatry Integration -- Himalayan Philosophy -- Penn & Stanford Medicine
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