Thursday Satsang: An Evening with Michael Smith – “Discussion of Sva-dharma, Our Unique Individual Purpose” – March 15, 2018
“Discussion of Sva-dharma,
Our Unique Individual Purpose” with Michael Smith
“Better one’s own dharma, even devoid of quality, than the dharma of another, even though well performed. Better to die in one’s own dharma; the dharma of another invites danger.” (Perennial Psychology of The Bhagavad Gita, Verse 3:35 by H.H.S. Swami Rama)
The last month has been a very rich one for the SundayBhagavad Gita Sessions because the theme has been sva-dharma (one’s unique role and purpose) in light of the two most important ideas in Indian culture: dharma & karma.
Also however, on Sundays in February & March there has been freezing cold, nasty snowstorms and then Daylight Savings Time. So this Thursday, Michael Smith would like to review the entire field of what was covered in these sessions:
- Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs”
- Jim Nelson’s “Introspective Exercise on Purpose,”
- David Brooks’ The Road to Character
- “Outer Purpose” & “Inner Purpose,”
- Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth
- “Being in Zone” and “Flow,”
- The Legend of Bagger Vance
- And much more – along with many handouts!
With the impersonality of the corporate workplace, many people wonder “What happened?” “How did I end up HERE?” Younger people, especially, are reluctant to take the plunge into that culture. Retired people, who’ve had their success or lack of it in their particular field of endeavor – which may or not have been their “chosen” field – are now trying to find their roots. (That might be why Ancestry is such a booming phenomenon.)
“Who am I anyway?” For Ramana Maharshi, THAT was the ultimate question: ko-ham (“Who am I?”) The mantra, so-ham, that we were given in the Himalayan Tradition answers that question in absolute terms, but here we are, localized in time and space, with a body, a family, and a storehouse of impressions from the past. What is THAT all about? Is there a reason for our present incarnations – and a larger purpose that we need to pay attention to and embrace?
In the first chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna said he wanted to become a renuniciate monk, but Krishna said, “No! Being a monk is not your sva-dharma. You are a warrior. That is your proper role. Play your part well, there all the honor lies.”
So how do we find out what our role is? What has the Bhagavad Gita told us about how to live our lives, meaningfully, here and now?
Ego and the traps of ego . . . not necessarily pride and arrogance, but ego as identification with a role and a false personality, taking on a “name and form” (nama-rupa):
“Soldier, sailor, tinker, tailor,
Butcher, baker, candlestick-maker,
Rich man, poor man, beggar man thief,
Doctor lawyer, Indian chief,”
or as Swami Veda would say, “our pseudo-individuated self,”
or as Ram Dass would say, “our space-suit for planet Earth.”
or as Eckhart Tolle would say, “the egoic self” –
We get stuck, because we feel that we have to defend or assert “the little me.”
Then the trouble starts!
“Let go and simply be. Be – becoming that which you are, that which you are to fulfill in this life as your dharma, following those contours of life which your karma creates, which your free will challenges you and protects you in each moment.” (from Swami Ritavan’s talk at TMC on Feb. 1st)