There are two levels of dharma. The first is what you do in your life. The second is the ultimate dharma – to know God. If you have the right perspective, everything is pointing that way… but that is the background for the discussion.
When we say the prayer, “L’shem yichud”, it is a reminder that we are multi-dimensional beings, living both on the physical plane, the astral plane, the mental plane also on the plane of the Nothing, the plane of chokmah, or wisdom.
In the yoga tradition there is a nice way of explaining dharma. It is one of four wheels carrying a car. First there is artha – you need a certain amount of wealth in life. For each person this varies according to their task – what they are supposed to be doing and what their position is. Artha facilitates our ability to fulfill that.
Kama is another wheel. There is a certain amount of pleasure each person needs. Again, this is unique to each individual. There is a common misunderstanding that everyone must be a certain way. Everyone must be removed from things, or everyone must be involved in things, but the truth is that every person has a distinct amount of pleasure that they need. It is really important in relationship to share this balance.
Dharma is a third wheel. It is your job in life. Some people are more dharma oriented. Some are more kama oriented. Some are more artha oriented. It is ultimately about balance for each individual. Neither X nor X+2 amount of kama is good or bad. It is a matter of balance. One of the bigger mistakes people make in spiritual life is that they don’t know how to create balance because they have all sorts of concepts of how it’s supposed to look.
The final wheel is moksha – liberation.
All those work together.
So dharma, that is, your way of working in the world that elevates you spiritually, must be balanced with the other three – artha, kama, and moksha. That said, we now need to look in another direction. I want to introduce another term – sanatana dharma.
Sanatana dharma is the natural way to liberation. It is my essential teaching. I call it the Six Foundations and the Sevenfold Peace, but behind these is this very simple term, sanatana dharma as a natural lifestyle bringing you to liberation.
Svarupa is another Sanskrit term referring to the natural way of liberated living. Once you are liberated, you don’t take a position. There are many positions that people take, but in svarupa you simply are. It is the natural way of living.
What is this sanatana dharma?
It is a dharma in which you have placed God at the center of your life. Everything is referenced around becoming more conscious. Everything is experience through the lens of becoming more conscious and expanded.
An example of this is the Hebrew question of kashrut. There is eco-kosher that says one should avoid pesticides and herbicides, humane animal agriculture, etc. This is all valid; however, I am more concerned with kashrut at a deeper level. How does my eating add holiness to the cycle of life on the planet? How does my eating expand the quality of the network of life on the planet? Is what I am eating and how I am eating affirming the network of life on Earth? These are all questions that sanatana dharma is also concerned with.
We are looking at each aspect of our lives and asking if it expands consciousness; if it creates holiness; and if it contributes to the web of life. Take all of your life and look at it through the lens of how your actions affect your consciousness, the consciousness of the planet, and the consciousness of all creation. This will give you an understanding of how to organize your life around sanatana dharma. By the same measure, kosher is not about eating this animal or not eating that animal, but, rather, what is the quality of the eating. Am I bringing holiness? Am I enhancing and expanding the web of life?