If they are fortunate, some people find their purpose in life and gain great satisfaction from it. Some people set spiritual goals and find fulfillment through inner growth. Unfortunately, the two groups don’t tend to be one and the same. In a society consumed with work, looking inward isn’t a priority. It might seem that the two worlds we all live in, the outer material world and the inner subjective world, aren’t even compatible.
But they are. There is only one reality, and the division between “out there” and “in here” is only mind-made. At the root of all experience is consciousness. To realize this is to make a life-changing breakthrough. Purpose and inner growth come from the same source. Find this source and live from it—then you unite all your goals and aspirations.
Dharma is the Link Between the Outer and Inner World
In the Vedic tradition one word, Dharma, is the link between the outer and inner world. The concept is ancient but very much alive in India today, where finding the right work is the first requirement of being in your Dharma. This makes it sound as if Dharma is one-dimensional. Traditionally it meant that the same occupation was headed down from grandfather to father to son, linking the generations.
There are flaws in this one-dimensional, career conception that need correcting. First is the place of women in the work force. Second is the desire of young people to break away from the occupation of their parents. Third and most important, a second dimension is missing—the whole area of inner growth.
Your Ideal Life
Dharma actually means the life you should be living—in other words, an ideal life awaits you if you are aligned with your Dharma. What is the ideal life? It consists of living as your true self. Your true self exists in your awareness, beneath the preoccupations of your social self, work self, family self, and private self. All those limited selves are rooted in ego, and ego is the driver of separation. “I” am an isolated entity, developing my own personal story, pursuing a never-ending stream of demands, duties, and desires.
One reason that people so often find purpose in their work but not in their inner or spiritual life is because of this imaginary separation between an inner and outer world. Work and spirit head off in opposite directions. Here Dharma helps to heal separation because it unites everything you want and aspire to. To find your Dharma, you don’t need to go on a quest or to sort out the conflicting strands in your life—the power of Dharma itself does it for you. Always keep in mind that Dharma isn’t about the ideal life waiting for you in the future, but the ideal life already here which you only need to awaken to in order to actualize it.
The things you need to find your dharma all occur in consciousness. Here are the main points.
1. You need to shift your priorities
Most people are so fixated on the world “out there” that job, family, distraction, and leisure dominate everything. Dharma put inner values first. They define your purpose on a daily basis. If you could see your life as your true self sees it, your purpose is activated by love, compassion, empathy, joy, truth, beauty, and exalted experiences that feel uplifting. These values can only shine through if you want and value such experiences, spending real time on them, not just wishes and dreams.
2. Follow your bliss
If you equate bliss with moments of joy, you can have some beautiful experiences while missing the deeper meaning of bliss. Bliss is a vibrant, dynamic force that comes from your true self. It is a signal that you are on the right track because bliss is the most important aspect of the ideal life. As your true self sees it, bliss is the only measure of success. A glimpse of joy isn’t enough. You deserve bliss as a constant in your life.
3. Choose to be aware, do not choose to be unconscious
Bliss can’t be a constant without a connection to it. Most of the time this connection is accidental and random. Something joyous happens unexpectedly, only to fade away. To make the connection permanent, you need to clear the way for bliss to flow. The channel is opened by being aware, and it Is blocked by the unconscious part of our lives, in other words, habit, conditioning, received opinion, group think and conformity. What these blocks have in common is that they are rooted in the past, whereas bliss is fresh and is experienced only in the here and now. Realizing this, you can stop yourself whenever you are aware of doing or saying something merely out of habit and routine. Being quiet inside and letting yourself be open is an invitation to bliss.
4. Reframe your life to be creative
A creative life is blissful, but society assigns creativity only to a select group of artists, musicians, and other personalities. But as viewed by your true self, the foundation of life is the flow of creative intelligence. It organizes body and mind to support new possibilities at every moment. If you reframe your life as a creative project that totally deserves all your attention, your new attitude encourages creative intelligence to flow.
5. Place the highest values first
Human beings cannot tolerate a meaningless life, which deadens body and soul. We are designed to be conscious agents who have an unbounded capacity to live whatever we deem to be the highest value. If your vision of your life centers on your highest values, you will be aligned with your dharma far above everyday existence. Whatever the values are—love, creativity, service, spiritual growth, beauty, or whatever you choose—dedicating yourself to the highest values unites purpose and inner growth as nothing else can.