A question that plagues every human being at some point in their life is: “How Do I find my Life Purpose?” It is terrible to be stuck in limbo and not know what to do in life. The answer is relatively simple.
Your circumstances define your life purpose. The best you can do is prepare for when your purpose in life presents itself to you. Keep sowing seeds of growth and don’t water the seeds of bad habits. Be detached from your actions’ outcomes, and eventually, your Dharma will present itself to you.
In this article, we will cover:
- Dharma (Life purpose or duty/responsibility)
- Karma (It’s not what you think it is!)
- How Karma leads to Dharma
- A meditation for understanding your life purpose.
Dharma: Duty, Responsibility and Life Purpose
Dharma is the Sanskrit word for duty or responsibility. Eastern philosophy doesn’t have a standard idea of morality. It talks about either living in service to your Dharma or not living in service to your Dharma. A significant advantage of this approach is that it gives you a lot of tolerance for suffering and failure. As a result, you end up doing the difficult things in life, when nobody else does.
Dharma does not have to be a grand purpose that will change the world. It can be as simple as the duty you have to your friends, parents, and even yourself. You can have a dharma that is your life purpose (for the time being) and other dharmas to yourself, your family, etc. In fact, dharma allows a lot of people to escape addictions, such as video game addiction.
Check out our video on Dharma and Video Game Addiction
Dharma is not static. It can change over time. Perhaps your Dharma used to be to finish writing a story that you have been carrying around in your heart. Once you finish writing the story, you have done your Dharma. Now what? Usually, there is a period where it feels like you’re in limbo. This period tells you something about yourself — it opens your eyes to what you don’t know, and what you still have to learn. Your new Dharma will probably arise from this period of your life.
Some influences, such as ego and expectations, can corrupt Dharma. Dharma is not finite — it can slip away even after you’ve found it. Most of the time, this is due to corrupting influences. If you keep giving into ego and expectations, then you will always be chasing your Dharma. You will never feel fulfilled.
The ego is a protective mechanism that protects us from emotional pain. When we are in danger of getting hurt emotionally, it rises to tank the hurt. Comparison is a function of the ego. It works by putting ourselves up or putting other people down. It allows us to tank the emotional pain by convincing us that we’re better than other people.
An overactive ego can corrupt Dharma quite easily. If you start to compare yourself to other people, then your Dharma will slip away. You will lose sight of the thing that allowed you to take on this burden, and you will succumb to feelings of low self-worth.
Expectations work similarly. If you start to expect favorable outcomes, then your self-esteem will take a hit when those outcomes fail to manifest. Your mind will tell you the story that you are a failure. It will dissuade you from following your Dharma because it learned that by doing so, you would experience emotional pain.
It is essential to be mindful of these influences, as they are very subtle. They control your mind and your actions without you realizing it. However, you can become more aware of these influences by the practice of meditation. Increasing your awareness will help you be in tune with and find your life purpose.
Karma: Circumstances, Actions, and Life Purpose
A conversation about Dharma is incomplete without exploring Karma. Simply put, Karma is the principle of cause and effect. It postulates that every effect has a cause. This cause might be invisible for us, but since we have observed the outcome, there has to be an underlying reason. It is similar to Newton’s 3rd Law: every action will have an opposite and equal reaction.
The idea of Karma is often confused with concepts of morality. The most common understanding of Karma is “what goes around comes around”. However, that is not entirely true. In its purest sense, Karma means that you shall reap what you sow. That means that throughout our lives, we have the opportunity to sow good Karma or bad Karma. The distinction between good Karma and bad Karma can be as simple as going to sleep on time vs. going to bed at 4 AM.
Karma is similar to habit formation. The more you invest in a particular habit, the more returns you will get, which will allow you to invest even more. If you sow one seed of positive Karma, it will bear ten fruits of positive Karma, whose seeds you can now plant. If you start to eat right, it will give you the impetus to start working out, and as a result, get your health in check. That might allow you to put in more effort into work and learn new skills. As a result, your life might gain positive momentum.
Check out our webinar on Karma:
We often talk about negative spirals, but positive spirals are just as, if not, more important. If we sow bad Karma, we will reap ten rotten fruits. But if we sow positive Karma, we will reap ten good fruits. Karma is exponential. One good action can ripple out over time as long as you keep planting positive Karma.
We cannot predict whether our actions will lead to a particular outcome. As a result, we must cultivate detachment from consequences and set our attention on actions. We can plant new seeds, but we do not have the guarantee that those seeds will produce fruit-bearing trees. That is why we must keep planting more seeds. We can never know when the circumstances will be favorable for the seed to germinate.
Click here to learn how to overcome your fear of failure.
Therefore, it is crucial to be action-oriented vs. outcome-oriented. When you’re sincerely doing your Dharma, you’re not focusing on the outcome. Your attention is devoted to the task at hand.
Dharma is not about achieving a goal. Goals are required because our mind needs a direction to move in. However, Dharma is purer than that. It is merely about devoting yourself to a task and being free from its outcomes. Being true to your duties will not only help you find your life purpose — it will also help you fulfill it.
Karma Leads to Dharma
“How do I find my dharma?” is one of the most common questions about Dharma. We need to understand that Dharma is not something you can look for. You will find your life purpose when you are ready. Up until that moment, all you can do is prepare for when it appears.
Karma leads to Dharma. Your actions and your circumstances create an environment for you that is favorable for your Dharma to manifest. For example, Dr. K was addicted to video games and barely graduated with a 2.5 GPA. He got his life together and went on to become a psychiatrist. Due to his experience with video game addiction, he is now one of the world’s leading experts on the subject. He understands video game addiction better than anyone else.
Dr. K’s story sheds some light on an important point. What you do in life is based both on your past actions, as well as your circumstances. However, this is not an excuse to give up on taking action. Karma is not an excuse to give up on taking action. Regardless of your circumstances, you can create change in your life by sowing some positive karma. There is a decent chance that you will reap the fruits of your labor over time.
Meditation for Understanding and Life Purpose
One of the best meditations to counter ego and expectations is to practice third-eye meditation. This meditation will also help you find your life purpose. Traditionally, the third eye is the inward-facing eye. Here’s how you do it.
- Close your eyes, and sit up straight. Take a deep breath, and as you exhale, relax.
- As you inhale, feel the coolness of your breath. Feel it at the base of your nostrils. Over the next few breaths, try to see if you can feel that coolness in the bridge of your nose, and then in the middle of your forehead. As you exhale, imagine that your breath is cleaning the area around your third-eye center. Repeat this for a few minutes.
- After the cleansing technique, you can move on to stimulating the third-eye center. Take your middle finger and hover it a center or two from the middle of your forehead. Do not touch the skin of your forehead with your finger. Simply hover your finger over it and see if you can feel a tingling sensation. Focus on this sensation for a few minutes, and then lower your finger. Continue focusing on this sensation.
- After a few minutes of focusing on the tingling sensation, you can move on to the third technique. This one is strenuous, so only attempt this if you have been doing the first two steps for a few months. Only try this if you are comfortable with third-eye meditation. With your eyes closed, direct your gaze upwards towards your third-eye center. You will be looking up and be cross-eyed. Drive your attention to that point. Only hold this for 5-10 seconds at a time. Don’t strain your eyes. Return to the last step, and when you feel relaxed, you can turn up the intensity by driving your gaze upwards again. This eye position is called Shambhavi Mudra.
Check out this demonstration of step 3 of the meditation