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Your Dharma

by Mary Beth Janssen

Asking the Deeper Questions

Who are you really? And why are you here? What is your true purpose in this world? Contemplate these questions for the next few moments. Close your eyes. Form images in your mind's eye if you'd like. These can be images of who you are, right now, today, and who you’d like to be: tomorrow, next month, next year. See your life as a flowing river of energy and information. Step into this river and let it carry you along toward your destiny, while maintaining an attitude of flexibility toward changes that may occur along the way. Creative visualization, of this caliber, done on a regular basis, can be very powerful.

Of course, these questions are as eternal and universal as they are daunting. And to find the answers, more often than not, it involves taking a deep breath, going inward and plumbing the depths that we find there. Many of you have undertaken this process—however there are also many who have not stepped up to the challenge. Not yet anyway.

They may be enjoying a lifestyle that revolves around self-gratification instead of self actualization. This is where the ego is in charge—and it can be insatiable. This is the part of us that is dominated by fear. It's the part of us that does not want to lose power, control, or approval. Eventually we all come to know the truth—that our purpose will not be found in all things external—people, places, and things, but in the internal world, where spirit resides. Getting right with our internal world creates balance within our external world.

For many of us, our work may have been purely a vocational decision connected to making a comfortable living, paying bills, buying a house, saving for retirement, and having some of the finer things in life. All noble and important purposes in life for sure. Yet, how many of us also chose this vocation because we sensed it to be a calling—one where we would feed our soul, express our creativity, experience the beautiful, and commune with and serve others on a spiritual level—with thoughts of compassion, and love.

Taking a Dharma Inventory

What are your unique talents and gifts? Write them down. They don't need to be in any particular order (perhaps even get out your journal, and write everything that comes to mind. Go back and review as you need a reminder.). Do this in broader brushstrokes as related to your life, and then hone in on your professional sphere of influence. These can be experiences, activities, relationships all aligned with your perceived "purpose" in your life. You can already be having these experiences, or have the deep seated desire to.

This can relate to core talents and values inherent in a career, a way of living, or creative pursuits (i.e., exemplary people skills, becoming an educator, living organically, master gardener). Some examples may be—You're the ultimate optimist, you "feel" people's vibes (a strong, intuitive sense), compassion toward other's feelings, a knack for clear, concise communication, an ability to make others laugh, an aptitude for "working the numbers," a love for working with children and/or the elderly—the more specific the better. Make sure you bring this questioning into the professional realm as well—and chances are, there is a lot of cross-over between your personal and professional personas and passions.

Revisit these answers often, letting them lightly nudge you toward continual growth, enlightenment, and evolution toward your highest good—that which makes your heart sing.

Action steps toward meaningful, sacred work:

  • Spend time every day in silence/contemplative practice to go beyond the ego, and commune with the higher self—that realm of our pure potentiality. We then begin to experience the power of our presence, devotion, and intention.
  • Use positive affirmations and creative visualization to enhance the qualities of heart and mind that we bring to our work.
  • Make a list of your unique gifts and talents—those things that give you fulfillment, enjoyment, and a deep sense of satisfaction. Revisit this often to remember, rekindle, and reaffirm your love for your chosen path.
  • Ask yourself often, "How may I best serve others with love?" This will in turn squelch the ego's voice that asks, “What's in it for me?"
  • Maintain a "beginners mind," where there is an openness, eagerness and wonderment toward continual learning.
  • Consider Buddhism’s concept of “Do no harm," where we don't exploit or abuse people or the environment, and we don't perpetuate greed, hatred, or delusion.
  • Remember that when you give, you receive.
  • Stay humble. Stay humble. Stay humble.

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