Coral Brown explores what it means to live in alignment with our faith and purpose and offers a practice for getting started.
We live in what we love. —St John of the Cross
One of our most primal needs as people is to feel that we have purpose. In order to experience and sustain this purpose, you must first establish a sense of what drives you, of who you are in the world. The Bhagavad Gita says that a person is what their shraddha is. The closest word the English language has to express the concept of shraddha is “faith.” However, shraddha is not as much a spiritual-based faith as a faith in oneself.
What Is Your Shraddha?
You will know what your shraddha is because you feel it. We feel shraddha deeply, so deeply that it often is experienced in the most intense emotions—ecstasy, grief, compassion, joy, love. Your shraddha is what defines you as being you. One could say that your shraddha is reflected through your virtues and values, it is what defines your sense of Self, your character. Your character, or your nature, determines your destiny. It shapes how you perceive, live in, and are motivated in the world. When these values are dismissed or violated you may react very strongly.
These moments offer yogis the opportunity to practice mindfulness, or try to create space between the stimulus and the reaction. There is much to be learned by observing and noting the actions, behaviors, people, and places that create these opportunities. These are your triggers, and they are indicators on the map that reveals your shraddha. What you strive for the most reflects what you value the most.
What Is Your Dharma?
When your deepest values are revealed, they illuminate your dharma. Dharma represents your inherent purpose in life and it is directly related to your shraddha. The direct translation of the word dharma is “that which supports.” Your purpose supports your faith. This purpose is not necessarily where you derive your financial livelihood, but it is present in your life in some way. The more time you spend living your dharma the more satisfied and at home you feel within your Self.
Let the beauty of what you love be what you do. —Rumi
Cultivating the wisdom to trust in your nature is developed through living in alignment with your truth. Family and community gatherings offer a special opportunity to practice this authentic alignment, especially when the conversation turns to a “touchy” subject like politics, religion, or spirituality. The more emotionally invested you are in something the more passionate. The more confident, established, and realized you are in your shraddha the less affected you are by conflicting opinions.
Live in Dharma not Drama —Coral Brown
Living in alignment with your shraddha and dharma requires you to take action and possibly change in ways that are challenging. Once you feel the joy that follows honoring your shraddha and dharma, though, you will want to experience it again and again.