July 4, 2014

Dharma on the Brain. ~ Erica Gottlieb

Erica Gottlieb yoga pose

I’ve been contemplating the concept of dharma quite a bit lately.

As I am going through J.A.B. van Buitenen’s translation of the Bhagavad Gita alongside “Poised for Grace,” Douglas Brooks’ annotations on the text for the second time, these questions naturally get churned up.

In “Poised for Grace,” Douglas writes, “Discontent and choosing discontent doesn’t make sense; it is irrational, beyond narcissism and yet takes root with a force as indomitable as nature herself.”

This is in reference to Duryodhana’s unwillingness to negotiate with the Pandavas, because Duryodhana wants the land, the wealth, the power and all the majesty a prosperous land could produce. He is blinded and essentially paralyzed by his greed, as his good (yet ill-gotten) fortune is not good enough.

I seek out the uncomfortable and the painful despite the insanity of such behavior. It literally takes over my consciousness and drives negative, harmful behaviors in a very cyclical manner. I am paralyzed by the fear of accepting the difficulty and fear inherent in taking responsibility.

Like Arjuna the warrior, I stand between opposing forces on a great battlefield and ask why must I fight? Why can I not renounce this war and the discomfort that is inherent to life? The Gita is nothing more than a metaphor for what I struggle with: Who am I and what should I do?

The fight to abide by my dharma, to do what is right for my life instead of throwing tantrums and harming myself as a means to avoid it is as great as the battle Arjuna faces in the “Field of the Kurus,” as described in the Gita

“Immanence is transcendence: The real world of decision-making, law, real estate, human choice and the blessings and tragedies of embodied life is the place where the ultimate meaning of life is to be created, sustained and finally decided.”

~ Douglas Brooks

Dharma must then include deciding how I might experience more fully the divine while living in the here and now. By making the best choices, seizing upon opportunities, and creating a structure that allows me to build a future I will no longer question: Who am I and what should I do? Because the questions will have answered themselves organically through my actions or, simply, karma.

In every experience there is the chance to touch upon the divine. Dharma need not bind or restrict, rather it should create the foundation upon which I can build higher levels of experience.



Love elephant and want to go steady?

Sign up for our (curated) daily and weekly newsletters!



Editor: Travis May

Photo: Author’s Own


Read 1 Comment and Reply

Read 1 comment and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Erica Gottlieb