The right way of living
The concept of Dharma is intrinsic to yogic thought; it refers to a universal law or governing principle which resides over the entire Cosmos. It can be a challenging concept to grasp since it has no single direct translation into English or French, a close adaptation is the “right way of living”. Dharma can be understood as a law of righteousness and satya (truth), giving order to the customs, behaviours and ethics which make it possible for an individual to live, thus following our dharma is for us to act in accordance with this law.
The implication of dharma is that there is a right or true way for each person to carry out their life in order to serve both themselves and others. Dharma is thus closely related to the concepts of duty and selfless service, or seva, and is therefore a fundamental principle of yoga.
The word dharma comes from the Sanskrit root word dhri, which means “to hold,” « to maintain, » or « to preserve. » In the early Vedas and other ancient Hindu texts, dharma referred to the cosmic law that created the ordered universe from chaos. Later, it was applied to other contexts, including human behaviors and ways of living that prevent society, family and nature from descending into chaos. This included the concepts of duty, rights, religion and morally appropriate behavior, and so dharma came to be understood as a means to preserve and maintain righteousness.
An individual’s dharma, or our personal mission or purpose is thought to be pre-determined. This depends on our karma, the notion of the cause and effects for actions in our past lives. Thus our path in life is set by universal laws, and the only way to progress is to live within this path and work toward our destined purpose.
According to the Bhagavad Gita, it is better to do your own dharma poorly than to do another’s well.
Thus for order and harmony to exist in the world every individual is to follow their dharma, pursuing their truest calling and serving all other beings in the universe by playing their true role.
Even the sun must shine and the bees must make honey.
The result of living in this “right way” is believed to be self-realization and enlightenment. How do you know that you are living the path of righteousness? When your life is aligned with your dharma, it brings a sense of joy and fulfilment, health and contentment.