Now that we have seen what dharma is and is not, we have to talk about putting our dharma into action. According to the wise, knowledge alone is not enough. Knowing about dharma by itself may not lead us to work for the highest good for ourselves and others. We must actually practice dharma every day. Here are some ways that we can move toward living our dharma:
1. Practicing dharma means maintaining God-consciousness through every activity in life. We accept God (or the divine, or universal truth) as the supreme principle and allow our individual life to be led in the light of God-consciousness. Accepting God means allowing truth and discrimination to guide all activities of life and consequently attaining freedom from selfishness, weakness, lack of discrimination, desire, and anger. The essence of dharma lies in practicing morality. The more we purify ourselves, the closer we move to dharma.
2. There is no need to teach a new dharma. Rather, the need is to purify our life and make it truth-oriented. The method of purification must be in accordance with our innate tendencies and inner inclinations. Dharma consists of making ourselves wholesome in thoughts, speech, and actions. Cleanliness, contentment, and morality are the signs of adhering to dharma.
3. Dharma should be practiced in every aspect of life—including family, career, relationships, and community. The highest good lies in reaching the center of our being, atman, and finally experiencing the oneness of atman and the supreme truth, brahman. In order to attain the highest good, the seeker passes through various stages of spiritual awareness. First, he attains knowledge. Through constant practice and contemplation, the knowledge is assimilated and then becomes an inseparable part of his being. It becomes effortless. The strength gained through knowledge helps him overcome blind faith and dogmas. He attains pure faith and surrenders himself to the divine force, once and forever.
4. Dharma protects the individual, as well as societies, whenever materialism tries to swallow humanity in its ever-growing thirst for the accumulation of worldly riches. Therefore, only ethics and politics based on dharma can be beneficial for human growth.
5. Today politics has separated itself from dharma and thereby has created chaos in our society. We must uplift ourselves; we must not allow human values to be undermined. This is possible only if we can bring dharma into our day-to-day life.
6. Dharma protects human beings from becoming lost in the material world. It reminds the aspirants of the importance of spiritual life by pointing out the transitory nature of the objects of the world and the sense pleasure derived from them. With the decline of dharma, the undesirable forces of selfishness, egoism, violence, and prejudice invade our mind and heart. Do not let those forces plunder your peace of mind and hinder your growth.
7. Dharma means discovering love, truth, and peace in our life, and these discoveries contribute to the fulfillment of every individual as well as to humanity as a whole. It is good to contemplate the divine, but living the life of a philosopher, while escaping from our duties and wandering hither and thither without organizing our life, cannot be condoned. The practice of dharma begins with our individual life but ends in the collective life of all mankind. An aspirant withdraws himself from worldly affairs not as an escape but rather with the intention of managing time and energy for higher achievements. Once he achieves this, he goes back to the world and shares the fruits of his achievement with the rest of humanity.
8. The sense of security is the mother of peace. Human beings cannot achieve security by competing for material wealth or by running after endless successes in the fields of science and technology. For true security and peace of mind, we have to attain mastery over ourselves. The awareness of dharma comes from the realization that the stream of life is not confined to the tiny part of our being we know so far.
9. The stream of life originates from the divine, which is higher than, and superior to, human life. By realizing this truth, a sincere seeker of dharma casts off his ego and begins experiencing the oneness of the life force within all living beings. Such an aspirant never considers any sectarian belief to be of higher authority than the truth.
10. Today we need a path of discipline to help us maintain the peace and happiness usually compromised by disease, old age, and the fear of death. A path that helps us remain unperturbed by such afflictions is the dharma of mankind. Only such a dharma can help us live in the world and yet remain unaffected by suffering and loss.
11. The sentiment “This is mine, and that is yours” is an attitude of those with little minds. For a person with high character and a broad mind, this whole world is a family. Such a humanitarian and egalitarian attitude is the ethical aspect of dharma, whereas the direct experience of non-dual truth is the spiritual foundation of the perennial dharma. Whenever humanity is ready to set forth a universal religion, it will have to return to the gems of truth from the Vedas and Upanishads, which long ago declared, “The whole world is one family.”
12. Dharma is pure in itself. The purity of dharma cannot be compromised by sectarianism. A sectarian religion is open to a limited group of people whereas dharma embraces all and excludes none.
Source: Spirituality: Transformation Within and Without by Swami Rama