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Day 8: The field of dharma-The field of action

Written by Ekras Gorakh

We judge ourselves. So we never begin the things that terrify us. The safety of the familiar is our cage.

This month, I am stepping out into the unknown. Today is day 8.

The movie Star Wars- Empire Strikes Back (1980) has a sequence that gets to the heart of Eastern mysticism. Young Luke is learning from an old master (Yoda), but he is refusing to let go of what he “already knows”. So when Luke has to do something he has never done before, he doubts himself, and because he doubts himself, he fails. He thinks he has failed because he is not good, but the truth is that he failed because he does not believe his own powers. When his master tells him to do it once more, Luke grudgingly says he will try (sigh).

“Do, or do not…there is no try”, says Yoda.

To only “try” to do something is to do it knowing that you will fail. To give something your 60% because you have to save some for the next time. And because you don’t believe yourself, you fail. It always works. Try it.

धर्मक्षेत्रे कुरुक्षेत्रे dharma-kshetre kuru-kshetre

in the field of dharma, the field of action

The Bhagavad Gita opens with these two words. Enough said.

We are always engaged in action, out of habit, and out of a need to do things. “Don’t just sit there, do something”. From early morning, we dive head first into the field of action. We read our Facebook feed, we drive out to work, we attend meetings, we get into arguments, and we live every day the same way as any other day. We never venture outside the cage of the familiar and the habitual, we stay trapped in our conflicts. Infuriating but comforting.

Dharma is the universal foundation of life and relationship. Because these are not rules written in a rule book somewhere, we have to work hard at understanding what’s right for right now. Beyond definition, whole epics have been written to describe the challenges of understanding dharma, and the dangers of mis-understanding dharma. With time, place and circumstance, the dharma can change, and only through “sila” or right relationships and the right understanding of relationships can one understand their own dharma.

The Greeks may have called dharma as arete (excellence), and the philosophers would have called it Quality or Virtue. Taoists would call it the “Tao, the way”. That’s why Yoda in Star Wars can say things that Eastern mystics would understand immediately. He speaks our language.

Do, or do not, there is no try.

Being sure requires us to know our heart. Knowing our heart requires us to know what connects us to everything. That knowing is the knowing of dharma, the universal foundation of life and relationships.

And so, as you venture into the unknown, know your own heart, and be sure. Then Do.

About the author

Ekras Gorakh

Ekras Gorakh is a software executive and a yoga-meditation teacher living in San Francisco, CA.

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