Your personal dharma is the path you follow toward the highest expression of your own nature—and toward the fulfillment of your responsibilities to yourself, to others, to your society, and to the planet. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna often speaks of dharma as something inborn, a life calling that each of us has been given and from which we depart at our peril. But he also uses the word to mean right action, and for most of us, personal dharma comes down to that most basic question: What is the right thing for me to do now? Or, given my nature, my skills, and my personal preferences, what actions should I take to support the greater good?
We often associate dilemmas of dharma with situations in which our desires are in conflict with our sense of personal or professional responsibility. But just as often, our conflicts of dharma are not about desires but about competing responsibilities. Sometimes we're faced with choices in which no matter what we do, someone will get hurt.
Even when the right thing to do is obvious, you may not always be the right person to do it. (If you can't swim, it may be in everyone's best interest for you not to jump into the river to try to save a drowning child.) The right action for you at a given moment may not be the right action for me. That's what makes the contemplation of personal dharma so tricky and so vital.