Personal Growth

What Is Dharma? Discovering My Life’s Purpose

Fun outdoor games for toddlers
Playing peek-a boo

Dharma is your unique purpose in life. It is the process by which you use your unique skills and passions to serve your community and the world.

As children, my father Deepak Chopra taught my brother and me the concept of dharma through his intentions, choices, and actions. We watched him transition professionally from a traditional doctor with a successful medical practice to an advocate for mind/body integration and consciousness.

This was not easy - he was often attacked by others and in financial distress - yet, he used his unique skills as a scientist, writer, and speaker, guided by his inner knowing to authentically live his purpose. We witnessed his personal transformation through daily meditation practice and self-reflection to live a healthier, happier, and more fulfilled life.

My mother was also a guiding light to us - she found meaning and purpose as the matriarch of our extended family and community. She patiently nurtured my brother’s and my individual interests. Our parents gave us the opportunity and freedom to study our passions, and gave us the practices to integrate purpose into our work and personal lives.

The Power of Intention

Early on, my father taught us about the power of intention – exploring our deepest desires to manifest the life we wanted. After meditation, he would guide us to ask the following questions:

  • Who am I?
  • What do I want?
  • How can I serve?

Listening, honestly and with humility, to the seeds of desire that arose as we asked these questions became the anchors to live with intention. We learned to ask for the qualities in our life that would make us happier, healthier, and connected to others.

There is a phrase in the Upanishads, one of the great Indian texts, that says:

You are what your deepest desire is,
As is your desire, so is your intent,
As is your intent, so is your will,
As is your will, so is your deed,
As is your deed, so is your destiny.

Reflecting on different stages of my life, I realize that my desire for love, connection, and service have remained consistent. My will (what I am willing to do) and deeds (action) have changed as my roles (mom, entrepreneur, author) evolved with the practicalities of education, time, financial security, and the community around me changed.

Fulfilling My Dharma

Despite the support and example set by my parents, I will admit that I often felt pressure to do something important and impactful to fulfill “my dharma”. I realized early on in my professional career that “dharma” for me was not necessarily going to be achieved through a traditional job. It took me decades grappling with this concept before I felt that I could fully embrace it.

I think the first time I knew my purpose - at my core - was when I discovered I was pregnant. My journey became about love in its purest form – hopeful, inspired, in awe of the power that came with nurturing a new soul. I also remember the specific moment – when I was 5 months pregnant on 9/11 – in the blur of sadness, fear and anxiety, that purpose took on a new dimension. As a parent-to-be, instinctively protective on my children who were coming into a suffering world, I knew that my intention to serve had to be combined with action to support others in our community, as well.

The Frequency Holders

Years later – when my kids were in their early teens - I still wondered if I was living my “dharma”. During an interview with Eckhart Tolle, I shared my insecurity that “I was just a soccer mom” and felt I was not doing enough to serve humanity. As I share in one of my TedX talks, he affirmed, in the sweetest, most powerful way, the truth about living with purpose. He called out the frequency holders – the everyday people who serve their loved ones, their communities, and Mother Earth.

The frequency holders - together – inspire, connect, heal and uplift humanity. He reminded me that to act with love and humility in every moment is the key to living with purpose. He empowered me to embrace my role as a “soccer mom” with pride, clarity, and joy. And, in turn, I now know my dharma plays out in the moments of daily service to my loved ones when I am guided by love and gratitude.

As you think about your purpose, think about the role you play as a frequency holder in your family, community, and the world. Ask – how can I serve? And pay attention to how your purpose manifests itself every day through your actions.

Find guidance as you connect with your higher self in You and Your Dharma, a new four-part series on the Chopra App led by Chopra Global’s Chief Impact Officer, Devi Brown.