“Consciousness sucks!” This is what a friend of mine says. He’s on the spiritual path and sometimes his inner voice encourages him to go against lower impulses and immediate satisfaction and opt for the harder but better option for the long term. I’ve had that experience too. That inner voice or intuition nudges me to move out of my comfort zone and sometimes literally move to a new place. It may encourage me to give back the change when the cashier gives ten dollars too much or speak up to defend someone or something even when I’d rather remain silent. Following this inner truth is called dharma or duty. Dharma in Sanskrit literally means “right action”, doing the right thing.
My favorite story about duty takes place on a battle field. Arjuna, a brave young man has been trained as a warrior. But on this day of one of the greatest battles the world has ever seen, his spirits plunge. He rides down the center of the battle field in a chariot driven by Lord Krishna. On the opposing side he witnesses people who have been near and dear to him. They too are poised for war. As he looks into their faces he loses heart. “I can’t do it,” he tells Krishna. “I can’t fight and risk killing them.”
He slumps in the chariot, dispirited. But Krishna reproaches him: “You have been trained, oh warrior. To fight in battle for a good cause is your highest duty. Whether you fight or not, these men you see are fated to die in battle today. You have the choice of going down in history as a great warrior or a coward. The wise man would do his duty.”
Arjuna decides to fight and becomes a legend. This is one of the great teaching about dharma – and how to perform it even in difficult circumstances. This battle, according to Jack Hawley, author of The Bhagavad Gita: A Walk Through for Westerners, is symbolic. It’s about an inner battle, a struggle to slay our inner foes. These may include hatred, anger, greed, lust, envy and jealousy. These enemies get in the way of living a content, happy and spiritually fulfilled life.
While it’s not easy, following that inner truth to your dharma will bring joy. Sometimes it may take time to see the results, but each little action, each time you say “yes” to that inner consciousness it’s a victory that resounds throughout the world. How migght your duty become your joy today?
Bio: Debra Moffitt is the award winning author of Awake in the World: 108 Practices to Live a Divinely Inspired Life and “Garden of Bliss: Cultivating the Inner Landscape for Self-Discovery” (Llewellyn Worldwide, February 2013). A visionary, dreamer and teacher, she’s devoted to nurturing the spiritual in everyday life. She leads workshops on spiritual practices, writing and creativity in the U.S. and Europe. More at http://www.awakeintheworld.com and on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/DebraMoffittAwakeintheWorld