The New Year is a time to reflect upon the last year and make changes to improve our lives for the better. I am constantly wrestling with personal plans to eat healthier, exercise and meditate more. I wish to be a better, kinder, more considerate husband, father and son. It would also be nice to create a sense of financial security for my children and family. All of these goals are found regularly on new years resolutions around the world and are significant contributing factors to a happy and successful life, but I think there is an imbalance.
I think we need a call to prioritise Dharma in our life. We are all vulnerable — Rich or poor, we are all equal. Over the past year of the pandemic, I have had varied conversations with leaders of multinational companies unable to help their loved ones find a bed in an ICU and with migrant workers who have lost their jobs and are unable to feed their children. I have also spoken to depressed University students who wish to end their lives due to being so isolated. Nobody will escape suffering in some form or the other, we must learn not only to manage but also to help others to become strong in the face of difficult times.
Establishing dharma in our lives and the world is the most important thing we can do. For our Environment it means causing less harm to nature, for those living in poverty it means creating a more equitable world, for those who are suffering it means giving love.
I wish to share with you the limbs of Dharma that are crucial for maintaining a flourishing world. These principles, like Sanatana Dharma, is applicable for every one of us, regardless of caste, creed, colour, nation, regardless of belief. Sanatana Dharma is like gravity. It is the universal responsibility which each of us shares within the seat of our hearts. In the Mahabharata, Krishna shares that “Dharma is that which is best for the welfare of all living beings.” It is these principles that will enable the flourishing of our world and we should make them the foundation of our lives.
Ahimsa (non-harming), is often articulated in scriptures as the highest of dharmas. It means to reduce the harm we cause through thought, word and deed. Of course, with every breath, we cannot avoid causing harm and therefore Tulhadara’s law is a useful one for us to follow:
Causing no harm to any living being, or at least as little harm as possible is the way of life that represents the highest expression of Dharma. That is the rule by which I live.
The sensible application of this law in a modern setting will inspire the end of the consumption of animals, the end of deforestation and the end of unethical businesses. Let us tread gently on this Earth and cause as little harm as possible.
Karuna (compassion), the great Maharaja Yudhishthira chose to care for a dog instead of enjoying the spoils of Heaven. This choice of Dharma was his heart’s calling, with every decision we make, we have to select whether we will be motivated by the right action or a pleasurable choice.
Seva (Selfless Service), is acting without a selfish motive, to live a life of Dharma one must be a peacemaker, working for the benefit of all beings, without any personal benefit. Our Go Dharmic campaigns are developed by our community to be of service to all living beings and our Earth. Whether serving food to the poor, or educating young girls in India, it is all in the call of dharma to help others in a mood of selfless service. Perhaps you can commit more time to work on campaigns with Go Dharmic and help to serve more people this year.
Maitri (Friendship), to be the friend of all beings is the goal of one called by dharma. To love all, serve all and feed all as we would our own family. The Buddha was once asked by his disciple Ananda whether friendship was an important part of Dharma, the Buddha replied in response, “No Ananda, Friendship is the entire dharma.” Try to cultivate better friendships, especially among those who are working for Dharma.
Satyam (Truth) Neem Karoli Baba always said that total truth is necessary, once we realise that we are all one, we will only be lying to ourselves. Truth is God and God is truth.
Shanti (Peace) We cannot have a peaceful world without bringing peace into our own hearts. Meditation on creating Loving awareness will bring peace of mind which can then inturn warm our communities. Ensuring a daily practice of meditation, based on love is a key (sadhana) practice. I have a daily practice of chanting a mantra, which I was given by Ram Dass, where I repeat: “I am loving awareness, I am loving awareness.”
Danam (Charity), Giving in charity can be incredibly liberating
Whether giving time, energy, assistance, or money, being philanthropically minded is important in making us happy. Altruism is a wonderful part of human nature, we must work to relieve the suffering of others now and feel their pain as our own. Give more away this year of yourself to helping make a difference to those who are voiceless, to our planet, to the poor, donate from the heart and feel liberated by the love.
Prema (Unconditional Love) When asked by one of our trustees Janaka, what the one word which summarises Go Dharmic was — I responded, “it is Love.” Go Dharmic is a spoon serving the sweetness of unconditional Love that I received from Maharaji. Unconditional Love is who we are, it is God, it is humanity, it is part and parcel of every aspect of our nature. Our call to Go Dharmic is a call to love.
Let us dedicate not just this year, but our entire lives to becoming love through loving others. We drift away from it every minute of every day, distracted by the world’s pushes and pulls, however in our hearts is where all happiness exists. Where God exists. Maharaji said that “Love is the strongest medicine, it is more powerful than electricity”. I believe with every fibre of my being that the purpose of our lives is to be one with that love.