Let Dharma Be Your Guide
It is better to strive in one's own Dharma than to succeed in the Dharma of others. Nothing is ever lost in following one's own Dharma, but competition in another's Dharma you breeds fear and insecurity. The Bhagavad Gita 3-35
Hallelujah Hare Krishna! One of my favorite passages from the Bhagavad Gita because it has come up in my life time and time again. I understand Dharma as our personal roadmap through life and also the essence of our truest self.
One of the reason’s I love yoga is that it reduces unnecessary suffering. One way in which I create unnecessary suffering for myself is by comparing myself, and my place in life, to others.
When I was in college I studied musical theater. I had been performing since I was ten years old and somewhere along the line I got an idea in my head that I had to sing and look a specific way if people were ever going to want to work with me. People had to want to work with me if I was ever going to be successful. I had to be successful if I was ever going to be loved and have friends. You can see how this can be a problem. Fear and insecurity were bred because I was competing in a Dharma that wasn’t mine.
I look back on that past Joseph with so much love and empathy because he set himself up to suffer. My college experience was wonderful in many ways, but I know for certain that their was a lot of fun left on the table. So much joy never experienced because I was stressed out all the time because I was working so hard, and failing, to make myself something I wasn’t, something I could never be because it wasn’t on my roadmap. The suffering came and stayed because I had built up this strong unshakeable belief, that I thought was truth at the time, of what I needed to be to have the life I wanted. My Dharma was never able to shine through because I was constantly repressing it. Telling myself that whatever I was naturally wasn’t good enough because it didn’t match the “truth.”
Even since starting to teach Yoga I have seen this pattern emerge. My thoughts say, “You need to practice more. You need to do all the asana. You have to have as many students as this other teacher. You need to know exactly what your teacher knows or you have nothing to offer, and on and on and on.” Whenever I hear this voice I come back to this passage from the Bhagavad Gita.
It is said in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika that a successful Yoga student must have faith. One way I interpret that is faith that everything you need and want is in your Dharma. As Krishna says “nothing is ever lost.” Whenever you hear the voice of fear and insecurity you rely on your faith. It will bring you back to the truth that it isn’t your job to be someone else, to know what someone else knows, or to do what someone else can do, and that our joy doesn’t depend on it. Whatever anyone else is doing it is none of your business. Your business is to nurture and love what you do and follow it through to the end. No judgement is necessary. Even the results of your work are none of your business. We tend to micromanage our lives. It is easier than that. I always tell my students do the work you being called to do but nothing more. Don’t work harder than you have to. You may be surprised by how many awe inspiring moments can come by having faith in your Dharma.
Joseph specializes in creating sustainable Sadhana for those with illness and disease and works at Sloan Kettering with patients and their caregivers. To read more of Glaser's work, click here or visit his nonprofit's site here.