The idea to “follow your passion” that we have heard so much over the past 10 years has it’s roots in ancient India. The phrase “sat chit ananda” sparked the imagination of Joseph Campbell, a man most famous for his study of cultural mythology in the book “The Hero With a Thousand Faces.” He heard this phrase “sat chit ananda” when studying the Indian Upanishads. It means to follow your “truth” “consciousness” and “bliss.” He said “i don’t know for sure if I’m following truth or consciousness, but i can know for sure when I’m following my bliss.” His use of the phrase “follow your bliss” has since become embedded into personal development circles, most commonly as “follow your passion”
This is a great idea, and i agree with it, but a more grounded, practical application of this can be found in the Bhagavad Gita - Particularly this quote.
The Gita is all about an archer named Arjuna struggling to come to terms with following his bliss. He has had great success on his path, but now he has to make some difficult choices. This is where Krishna begins to teach about Dharma.
Dharma literally translates to 'duty', 'virtue', 'morality,’ and it refers to the power which upholds the universe and society..
But acting virtuously is not the same for everyone; different people have different obligations and duties. Dharma is universal but it is also particular and operates within concrete circumstances. Each person therefore has their own dharma known as sva-dharma. What is correct for you might not be for me.
The Gita suggests that to move even an inch in the direction of your own path is far more worthwhile than to move miles in the direction of someone else’s path.
Action out of alignment of dharma is called adharma and is said to lead to kinds of suffering, as you know if you’ve ever been sucked into the social media trap of comparing yourself to others and becoming self critical.
Action in alignment with dharma is considered a service to humanity and to the God of your understanding.
How do you know when you’re in alignment? I think it’s much like a yoga pose - you feel it clearly in your body. There is a resonance, a harmony, a natural flow of energy and little resistance. Even advanced, strong postures can take on a light, weightless quality. We can find this in yoga postures through practice, and I believe we can find it in our day to day actions as well, and if nothing else, that is one thing yoga is practice for.
I’ve created a full online course all about applying this concept of “Following your Dharma” called Mindful New Year. Begin applying this yourself with a FREE PDF: “5 Steps to a Mindful New Year” that you can download now until Jan 31st at www.MindfulNewYear.com