Who am I? what do I want? what is my purpose in life?
These questions come from the depths of our being, which is always nudging us to look beyond the world of appearances and discover our inner divinity. According to the beautiful teachings of the Vedas, each of us manifests in physical form to fulfill a unique purpose – our dharma – and it’s up to us to find out what that purpose is. Only then can we experience complete fulfillment and bliss.
Clues that you are following your purpose
The spiritual Law of Dharma states that we all have a unique talent . . . something we love and do better than anyone else in the world. When we use that special talent to serve others, we live in the fullest expression of our dharma.
When you’re in your dharma…
You lose track of time. Instead of watching the clock or thinking about what you’d rather be doing, you’re fully immersed in present moment awareness.
You’re excited about the unfolding possibilities and the opportunity to serve others as you express your unique gifts and talents.
You don’t seek approval, security, or control. Knowing that your true source of abundance and creativity is infinite, you don’t get caught up in the ego’s arche typical power struggles.
Your chosen activity feels deeply right and natural to you, even when it sometimes challenges your abilities or, conversely, feels monotonous.
You enjoy your relationships with those who share your life and work.
You feel aligned with the evolutionary flow of the universe, regularly experience synchronistic opportunities and encounters that support you in the fulfillment of your intentions and desires.
Dharma is much more than one’s career or focus of activity in life. Dharma is the unstoppable force of evolution in the cosmos that impels everything forward toward self awareness. Following your dharma means that all of your thoughts, intentions, words and actions support your highest purpose. You’re not merely acting out of a sense of duty or obeying the laws set down by society, but you are behaving in integrity with your spiritual purpose. When everything that you do and think is in alignment with your dharma, you experience happiness, fulfillment, and love while simultaneously contributing to the harmony and wholeness of the entire universe and everyone in it.
When you’re not living your true purpose, the clues are equally clear…
You don’t find intrinsic pleasure in your work or activities. You have a nagging feeling that there must be something more to life, even if you don’t know what that is.
You dread going to work or performing whatever activity currently fills your days. Time seems to drag and you can’t wait to stop.
Your relationships feel strained or even toxic.
You don’t feel like you’re expressing your uniqueness or individuality in your work. You may doubt whether what you’re doing is truly serving others.
You expend a lot of energy resisting change or trying to force things to happen. You don’t feel aligned with the natural, evolutionary flow of the cosmos.
Reconnect to your passion and purpose
When we’re not fulfilling our dharma, we may feel bored, lost, or adrift in life. We may feel like we’ve lost our passion or never had any to begin with. In reality, we all have passion or we wouldn’t be alive. Passion is the free flow of natural emotional energy that leads us toward the fulfillment of our dreams, desire, and purpose in life. We may become disconnected from our passion, but we can never truly lose it.
As we are growing up, some of us receive the message that we don’t deserve to have desires, that what we want is unacceptable, or that it’s wrong or selfish to go after our dreams. Our talents may have been unrecognized or discouraged by parents and teachers who didn’t want us to go in a particular direction. The classic example is the child with musical gifts who is subtly or not-so-subtly encouraged to develop a career in something “practical” like law or business.
If our natural talents weren’t encouraged, we may feel powerless and think, “Why bother having desires when they will never be fulfilled anyway?” We then suppress our desires, even to the point where we’re no longer consciously aware of their existence.
No matter how deeply we’ve buried our desires, they are a force of evolution and growth that can never be completely halted. When we reconnect to what our soul is yearning for, we will find ourselves naturally expressing our passion and experiencing the expansion of happiness in our life.
Here is a simple practice you can use to rediscover your true desires and purpose:
1. Begin by meditating for a few minutes and connecting to the experience of stillness and silence.
Then ask what your heart deeply desires and yearns to express and listen quietly for an honest response. For the time being, don’t fixate on any one response; let the journey move wherever it wants to. This part also requires you to develop trust in your inner voice.
As the process deepens, you will gain insight into whether a desire is coming from your ego or your real self. Does it feel relaxed and loving? Is it coming from a place that already feels good about itself? Does it want this for others as well as for oneself? These are the desires that the universe will support and therefore which will be manifested most easily.
2. Ask yourself, “What are my unique gifts and talents? How can I use them to bring happiness to others and to myself?”
Answers always come, but what I have discovered is that many people have such a strong filtering mechanism that they won’t even entertain certain responses and say that they aren’t getting any answers. The important thing when you are listening for an answer is not to immediately reject what comes to mind just because it doesn’t match your preconceptions.
Just dig in deep and find out what really matters to you. Keep at it and don’t settle for “I don’t know what I have to offer others” or “I’m not really great at anything.” Don’t let yourself get stuck in notions that your passion has to translate into work that you do for the rest of your life, or that it has to be grand or spiritual. Let it grow out of what you are doing today, right now. Pay attention and notice when time seems to stand still, when you feel completely absorbed in what you’re doing as you use your talents to serve yourself and others.
Continue doing this daily, asking yourself these two questions and writing down your responses as they evolve over time. Over the weeks, let the answers accumulate, whether they are repetitive or contradictory, or both. After a month, take some time to consider the ways in which your desires and your gifts have found expression in the last few weeks. This is the evidence that you are following your passion.
Keep in mind that finding and living your purpose isn’t a one-time effort. Dharma is an ever-evolving process that depends above all on expanding your self-awareness. Sometimes you will feel completely in the flow, living in harmony with the force of evolution on a moment-by-moment basis. Other times when you feel out of balance and constricted, you may be expressing only a small percentage of your dharma.
Understand that everything you need to know lies within you. As you grow in self-awareness, you remove the blocks to your full potential and will naturally live in tune with your true purpose.
Deepak Chopra, MD, FACP, founder of The Chopra Foundation, a non-profit entity for research on well-being and humanitarianism, and Chopra Global, a modern-day health company at the intersection of science and spirituality, is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation. Chopra is a Clinical Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of California, San Diego and serves as a senior scientist with the Gallup Organization. chopra.com