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Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, United States
Karen is a yogini, writer, student, teacher and meditator. She founded Garden Street School of Yoga in 2000. Karen lives with her husband Chris. They have two amazing sons, Eli and Leo (both of them young men).

Jun 15, 2011

dharma and svadharma

We finished up the Immersion cycle at Garden Street this past week.  Once again - the Immersion turned into an amazing process with a remarkable group of people and rich, deep discussions.  One of those discussions revolved around the consideration of dharma - (which is, basically, one's true Work) as part of our overview of the Bhagavad Gita.  We talked about "big" dharma -- opening to Big Context - (opening to the possibility of knowing that everything is Light - everything is God) and then letting that Big Context infuse one's particular expression of that Light - one's work or svadharma.

Sadhana (practice) is - for me - something that I "do" at the liminal space - the boundary - between svadharma and dharma.  What I mean is this: practice opens me to Big Context;  tethers me to That; locates my awareness and identity closer to the source point, the place in the middle, where I connect to clear streams of Light.  With that connection made, the Big Context can infuse the small individual context that is my work, my indiviaul expression of Light - my svadharama.  For example, in my practice of contemplation and journaling, I turn my compass inward, so that when I write this blog I am more truly aligned to the clear Light (sattva) and greater brightness can move outward through the vehicle of words, and what I write can be more useful. (Hey Angela - I think I got it wrong when I said I didn't think journaling was a formal sadhana.  I thought and thought about that......Now I'm changing my story.  I think journaling can be formal Sadhana.  It all depends on context.)

The discussion got really interesting - and struck a resonant chord with several people in the Immersion group - when I mentioned that I get into trouble if I read other blogs before I write my own.  It is better if I sit down to write and keep my mind and words relatively well lined up to a clear spring of inspiration that flow within me - as me.  When I read other blogs first - - I generally contaminate my own clear springs.  Before I know it I feel I have nothing to say that has not already been said - and said better.  And so I just end up surfing the internet or returning some more e-mails. In more classical terms - I think this is what Krishna was teaching Arjuna in the Gita when he said "it is better to do your own dharma poorly that to do another's dharma well."

What I do now is I make a space in time between my writing and my reading of my friends' blogs. This way I can write from a "clear springs" place AND delight in my friends' and other's writings. 

Another good thing that happened in the Immersion this time through the Bhagavad Gita is that I realized I am familiar with and well read in a great resource - hiding in plain sight - Steven Pressfield's War of Art.  He is a student of the Gita and wrote basically a "get'r'done" manual on doing your dharma when he wrote the War of Art.  It brings out the Gita's powerful teaching on dharma with a contemporary voice.  Do the Work. Here's a few of his quotes:

"Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It's a gift to the world and every being in it. Don't cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you've got."  

"The song we’re composing already exists in potential. Our work is to find it." 

“We can’t become anything we want to be. We come into this world with a specific, personal destiny. We have a job to do, a calling to enact, a self to become. We are who are from the cradle, and we’re stuck with it. Our job in this lifetime is not to shape ourselves into some ideal we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are and become it. If we are born to paint, it’s our job to become a painter. If we are born to raise and nurture children, it’s our job to become a mother. If we were born to overthrow the order of ignorance and injustice in the world, it’s our job to realize it and get down to business”.

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