3.35 Pursuing your own dharma is superior to pursuing the dharma of another, even if successful in such pursuit. Following another’s path breeds fear and insecurity and should be avoided.
The literal meaning of the Sanskrit word dharma is, that which supports, bears, or holds. It is the One that permeates and supports all of existence. It is often expressed as Cosmic Law and the underlying Order of things.
On a personal level, dharma is about living in accordance with the One who supports us, the laws of the universe, and your true Self. The ancient Greeks described this as living in harmony with Nature and its underlying laws.
Fulfilling your dharma is about living out the inner callings, visions, ideas, and inspirations of your true Self. It is about living up to the inner ideal that arises from your heart.
We each have an inner ideal. It is our vision of what we think we should be, what we could be. We do not really choose it; it arises independently of our conscious involvement. It calls to us from our heart. It is the true Self speaking to us. Guiding us. Gently assisting us to aim in the right direction, letting us know when we are off course and out of alignment.
To live in accordance with your dharma is to live out your inner ideal, in harmony with Nature.
This verse instructs us that we should give ourselves to our own path, above all, and cautions us against following the path of another, even if we could be successful in that other path.
This is wise advice. For when we fail to live up to our ideal, we feel down and depressed, like we have failed in our responsibility to ourselves. If we keep this up over time, we get increasingly frustrated, angry, and resentful. We become like a black cloud, ready to rain upon anyone who crosses our path. We create suffering for ourselves and all around us.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “Accept the place that divine providence has found for you … Great men have always done so.” He knew that we can never be truly satisfied unless we pursue our own purpose, our own ideal and callings. He knew that fulfilment and meaning come from you doing what you are uniquely here to do.
18.45 Through devotion to the work you are called to do, you can attain fulfilment and enlightenment.
Not only does living in accordance with your dharma provide inspiration, meaning, and fulfilment, it also provides your own direct avenue to achieve enlightenment. When you follow your dharma, you will serve others and simultaneously unfold yourself and become all you are meant to be. It is your unique path to awakening. Pursue it above all else.