It’s now 2020. Nice number, eh? Well-balanced. Like twins!! Sometimes when we start something new, certain questions might arise in your yoga-mind meanderings: What kind of karma will I have this year? What’s my dharma (true purpose, destiny path)? Glad you were wondering because during our teacher training course (TTC) we discuss and play with those very questions through the well-balanced lens of ancient yoga philosophy exploration. Please join our next Vinyasa TTC and have the adventure of your life with a groovy group of fellow explorers on the expansive frontiers of learning; “to boldly go where you haven’t gone before,” to paraphrase a Star Trek saying.
To get you started on your exploration, mindfully mull over these ideas about dharma and karma:
Dharma is a Hindu, Buddhist and yogic concept that refers to the idea of a law, or principle, governing the universe. For an individual to live out their dharma is for them to act in accordance with this law. In Buddhism, it is said that acting in this way is the path to enlightenment. The implication of dharma is that there is a right way for each person to carry out their life. Dharma is closely related to the concepts of duty and service to others, or seva. It has no single-word Western translation, which sometimes makes it a difficult concept for Westerners to grasp. One close translation, however, is the “right way of living.” The word, dharma, comes from the Sanskrit root word dhri, which means “to hold,” "to maintain," or "to preserve." In the early Vedas and ancient Hinduism, dharma referred to the cosmic law, which 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. (Source: https://www.yogapedia.com/definition/4967/dharma)
Translated from its Sanskrit root, karma simply means "action"—anything we say, do, or even think. However, the yoga tradition defines the word karma in three different ways: first, as the actions, we are committing in the present; second, as the effect that our past actions have on our current character and life experience; and third, as what in the West we often call our destiny. When we say that something in our life is "our karma," we are probably using the second meaning of the word to refer to the fact that we are currently reaping the results of something we sowed in the past. (Source: https://www.yogajournal.com/lifestyle/seeds-change/)
As you can see from the definitions given above, dharma and karma are closely connected and mutually influential; one creates the conditions for the other to be created. They’re a powerful pair. Like twins!! It’s all about intentional action as the great liberator (or oppressor). Your choice. And for those of you who have the idea that karma is somehow deterministic, fatalistic, pre-destined, or inescapable…think again. Heed these powerful words of Sri Yukteswar, the guru to the great yoga teacher Paramahansa Yogananda: “The message boldly blazoned across the heavens at the moment of birth (dharma) is not meant to emphasize fate—the result of past good and evil (karmas)—but to arouse man’s will to escape from his universal thralldom. What he has done, he can undo. None other than himself was the instigator of the causes of whatever effects are now prevalent in his life. He can overcome any limitation, because he created it by his own actions in the first place, and because he has spiritual resources which are not subject to planetary pressure.” (Source: https://www.sriyukteswar.com/quotes-sri-yukteswar-various-topics/)
These “spiritual resources” to which Sri Yukteswar is referring are none other than (drumroll please) your consistent, mindful and wholehearted yoga and meditation practices. So free yourself from old habits that no longer serve you or the Greater Good in 2020. Act with compassion, commitment,
and clarity. Practice mindfulness. Forgive freely. Cultivate kindness. Love wholeheartedly. And begin anew.