On Duty, Sacrifice, and Dharma
Sometimes I wish I could stay in bed all day; binge watch the latest Netflix series, devour a tub of oreo-flavoured Häagen-Dazs, or just admire the stubbles on my ceiling wall – anything to protest my drive to be “productive”. I feel a sense of emptiness when I give in to temptation – as if I lost something dear to me.
What I lost was that day. A day I could have spent with purpose.
The sweat of purposeful work flavors life. And this savouriness turns dull in the pursuit of sloth. It is in the blood, sweat, and tears of service that makes life so darn worth living.
This is how I define the dharmic path: to use one’s own work as a meditative tool towards spiritual fulfillment. It is the atomic actions that we do each day that takes us closer to the Essense of God, Tao, and the Cosmos. However, Dharma is beyond the scope of work as defined by Western ideals. The work in Dharma is demonstrated in the way we rest, reflect, and interact with the world. It encompasses all action and non-action done with purpose.
Suffering is the byproduct of not living in alignment with dharma – it the friction caused by the part of us that is not aligned with our life’s purpose.
It teaches us which emotional and psychological knots we have left to untangle. Once all the knots are resolved, what is left is the Flow State: the essense of life that courses through the veins of humanity and the doorway to abundance. In experiential terms: it is the feeling of progressing seamlessly in alignment with how nature intends it. It is the way of Tao. Or as Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, the Godfather of Flow psychology defines it, “being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.”
We each follow follow a unique path of discover dharma – and often, we veer off this path. We neglect our inner voice and blame external reasons as the cause of suffering.
Thinking this way is delusional. We fabricate excuses to justify unfavorable realities and take the stance of victimhood. Like orphans blaming their parents for abandonment, we too act out our childish instinct and blame the world for our woes.
When we identify with the Orphan archetype, we are in constant “fight or flight”.
- In “fight” we perseverance with tunnel vision. “Just work harder” is our motto – enough so at least to continue living in perpetual torment. Year after year, we continue this non-sensical action without ever stopping to reflect. By “working harder” we suppress our intuitive desire to rest and reflect. We continue fighting because we fear that we will know the truth once we stop – that all of this suffering was unnecessary and self-caused. We are afraid to be wrong and to realize that all this suffering was not caused by whom we blame, but rather by our own self-neglect.
- In “flight”, we believe that life is just too fucked up and that there’s no sense to opt in to society – and so we drop out. We chastise the efforts of those “trying”, yet we do not dare contribute ourselves to a meaningful alternative. As we continue, we realize that we have to participate to some degree in order to just get by and we trap ourselves in a mental paradox – hating the system but still operating within it. We criticize politicians, yet continue voting. We cast blame on corrupt CEOs, yet pay to their empires. We ultimately cast blame in order to justify how insignificant we feel inside – because we’ve lost sight of dharma. We continue to run away because we fear the power within us – we fear admitting that we have, from within, the ability to alleviate the suffer from without. Only by absolving our inner dichotomies, can we progress toward any meaningful solutions in our external world.
We neglect our source of pain – we neglect the teachings from the ancestral wisdom found within us all; what Carl Jung calls the “collective unconscious” and what I call mentor.
Walking the dharmic path means exploring to resolve suffering, only to peel back yet another layer of more refined suffering after. And on and on, the cycle continues until we find our way back to the source, back to love, and back to our authentic soulful expression of self. I walk this path towards the Great Spirit who helps me redefine suffering.
There is the moment of pain – which is bearable. But it is sandwiched between the psychological suffering before and after the act that magnifies discomfort. On one level, we suffer because of an unpleasant experience. This suffering is unavoidable and is neither bad nor good – it is simply a part of the changing circumstances of life, the natural process called anitya. What is torment however, is the psychological suffering dreading the painful experience before; and in woe of the experience after. This suffering clouds the perception of reality and shades all experiences so long as we encourage it from within. This is torment in its purest form – and the root of all evil.
Through the daily act of dharma, we open ourselves to the flow of life to correct our path whenever we trail off. By learning from Fear, we self-correct to live in harmony with Love. By understanding suffering, we learn to release it from the grasp of ego. By living in emptiness, we learn to live in Flow.
And so, as I begin a new day – now as CEO of OlySport, I repeat to myself: