Lesson 9: Dharma
Because reality is an apparent duality, it is legitimate to look at the self from two perspectives. The absolute perspective…limitless non-dual unconcerned ordinary awareness…is my ‘true’ or ‘ultimate’ nature, my Dharma with a capital ‘D.’ Karma Yoga is acting in accordance with my svadharma with an eye to realizing my true nature. Yes, it is true that if my knowledge of myself as awareness is not subject to doubt I will not practice karma yoga because all my actions will naturally be in harmony with my true nature. But if my self knowledge is not firm I need to assume the stance of the self with reference to action and act accordingly. We call this ‘faking it until you make it.’ It is not really false to act as if I am the self because I am the self. It just ‘feels’ fraudulent. So there is an element of awkwardness when I begin to practice karma yoga. It soon dissipates, however, as this yoga gradually produces an incredible lightness of being.
At the same time I have been blessed or cursed, depending on how you wish to look at it, with a relative nature, meaning that my samskaras give rise to specific tendencies and talents. I have loved books from an early age because I have an undying attraction to knowledge. I remember reading under the covers till three or four am when I was very young to make my parents think I was asleep. I have read thousands of books and write prodigiously. When I was growing up one of my best friends was obsessed with money. Every summer he would pick up coke bottles from the side of the road and redeem them at the corner store for two cents and sell lemonade on the street when it was hot. He kept his money in Folgers coffee cans, which he buried in a canyon next to his house. He died recently and it seems he had accumulated a fortune. He had a business samskara obviously. Some incline to art, some to science, some to sports, etc. Your predominant samskara is your relative nature, your svadharma.
Your svadharma, unlike Svadharma, is in samsara and is subject to change. So what lifestyle you followed yesterday, you will not necessarily follow tomorrow. If you act out your predominant samskara to Isvara’s satisfaction, It will supply you with another svadharma. Some individuals are lucky…or not…in that they want to ‘be something’ when they are only five years old…a musician, for example…and happily stick with it all their lives. But others live several lives and play many roles in one life. Others, it seems, never figure out what they are ‘supposed’ to be doing. If that is the case, consecrate your actions to the dharma field and take what comes with a glad heart and don’t worry about who you are on that level and what you are ‘supposed’ to be doing.
In my case I never wanted to ‘be’ anything. Of course it was all ego but I thought I was wonderful the day I popped out of the womb and did not listen to anyone who had a different opinion. I just wanted to have a lot of money so I could chase women and travel the world. It was very strange because there were no business people in our family, but owing to this vasana, Isvara supplied the samskara necessary to realize my dream…the entrepreneurial archetype…and I made a lot of money. But once I worked it out...or perhaps it is more accurate to say that once it had run its course...I realized the limitation of money and that samskara receded back into the Causal Body and sits there today, more or less ignored. My next limited identity was seeker. I was not a seeker who fell in love with seeking like so many these days. It was more or less imposed by my suffering. But an epiphany activated the seeking samskara...or the seeking samskara activated the epiphany…and I embraced that dharma. When I got to India I realized that it was possible to do spirituality right because an infrastructure was available to serve that archetype. When I became a finder, a new samskara became active and when I worked that one out to Isvara’s satisfaction, It supplied another one. Identities, dharmas, samskaras roles and lifestyles are eternal. They come to the forefront at Isvara’s beck and call and recede when they have been done well.
The self is straightforward. It is one thing only. It is simple and ordinary and ever-present. It is not the result of an action. It is always and already accomplished. But karma is not simple. It is ‘nuanced,’ to say the least. It is complex because so many factors go into the production of results. To know it is to know the mind of God. It is a field of laws that are not published in the newspapers or posted on the street corners. So when I act I need to take the field into account. But when I act, it is absolutely necessary to take my svadharma into account because if I don’t act in harmony with it, I will reap conflict.
Who am I on the relative level? What kind of a doer am I? Isvara produces roles, dharmas, according to the nature of the dharma field at any given time. A long time ago you were probably a hunter or a gatherer because Isvara did not need money managers or real estate agents or scientists. All you needed to do was to throw a spear, catch a fish or climb a tree to pick fruit. Yes, there were individuals with spiritual samskaras (witches, shamans, priests) or artistic samskaras (storytellers, dramatists, etc.) and there were thinkers…the seers to whom this knowledge was revealed lived long before the age of agriculture…but basically everyone had the same nature with reference to action. Yes, the myriad tendencies that express themselves today were there in seed form, occasionally breaking out as visionaries, geniuses and mystics who opened up mankind to new possibilities, but the angst associated with action…what should I do with my life?...was largely absent. It was dictated by the situation.
As civilization ‘progressed’ and agriculture developed, the need for new skills arose and Isvara supplied them. A person born during the age of agriculture had a few more options because life was more complex. Since the industrial revolution life has become exceedingly complex and promises to get more so. Abstracted from the physical, the fruits of man’s actions have grown to astronomical heights today in the form of incredible, some would say obscene wealth. With the rise of the nation state, this wealth, concentrated in the hands of a significant fraction of the world’s population and administered by liberal democratic governments, basically eliminated hunger and physical insecurity. What young person growing up in a ‘developed’ economy has to worry about his or her next meal? The advent of peace and prosperity has had its downside, however: individuals need do virtually nothing to look after themselves or, should they wish to act, are presented with such a bewildering array of choices…like the dozens of brands of cereal on the supermarket shelves…that they have no idea what they want to be. And in so far as doing is being in rajasic materialistic societies, the modern world is saddled with a crisis of identity, the likes of which the world has never seen.
Seeking is a ‘world’ that has its journeymen and its superstars and, like any other, its dharmas, rules. The problem with seeking as an occupation is that it ends abruptly when finding happens. Finding means the hard and fast understanding that being…which is happiness…is not related to doing. In short ‘being’ is not an occupation. This becomes a real problem for the doer, assuming it has survived finding, because now it needs a new job.
In any case, the dharma of a seeker is to apply self knowledge to his or her mind. But there are various levels of seeking. If you are at the upper end of the evolutionary scale, meaning if your desire for freedom is burning, you have the requisite qualifications and have been blessed with conducive circumstances…a proven means of knowledge, the guidance of a qualified teacher and few tamasic karmas, you can seek properly. When you seek properly you do not listen to that voice in your head that asks you when you are going to get real and get a proper job. In other words you are in harmony with your svadharma as a renunciate. Karma yogis act in harmony with svadharma.
But if you are not one hundred percent committed to enlightenment you will have a conflict. You will listen as the doer ridicules your spiritual impulse. You will be torn between forgoing the possibility of success in the ‘real’ world and spiritual success, which does not promise to pay the bills. I remember a conversation many years ago with my mother, who represented the ‘real’ world for me at the time. I told her that I was ‘into God’ just to keep things simple. She raised her eyebrows and said, “Well, James, that’s all well and good but the Lord does not bring in the bacon.” I told her that ‘the Lord’ was the bacon but it went over her head.
In any case if you act in harmony with your svadharma…assuming you know what it is…you will have eliminated one source of conflict. You know if you are acting in harmony with it, if what you are doing in life ‘feels’ right. If you act contrary to it, you will be unhappy. You will not know, however, that you are unhappy because you are not acting in harmony with your nature. You will think it is because the results of your actions are not what you want. You will not see that the results Isvara is sending are in harmony with your assumed nature and not your svadharma. When you are not clear about who you are as a person, and you do not know you are the self, you will try to ‘be’ someone that you think is interesting and attractive. Nobody tries to be a phoney. People act inauthentically because their svadharma is hidden from them. The desire for identity is the strongest desire in the human mind and it will not be denied.
In general we say that you need to realize who you are as a person and be OK with that before you are qualified for liberation. Chapter 4 discussed the qualifications at length. This is why Vedanta says that you should stay in the world as the person you are and work out your svadharma with the karma yoga attitude. But what if you don’t know what it is? What if you are just knocking about from pillar to post taking odd jobs, taking up one relationship after another, never doing meaningful work, growing older but no wiser?
In other words, why is your svadharma hidden from you? It is obscured by your fears and your desires. They extrovert you so much that you never have time to really get in touch with who you are on that level. They keep you looking for something in the world and sap your self confidence to such a degree that you haven’t got the courage to actually let go of your idea of success. You still really want security or love to come from the outside.
Or it may be that you have worked it all out already in some ‘past life’ and that deep down you somehow know that you really are not anybody on that level. This is a situation that we find to be quite common these days. In the spiritual world these people are called ‘old souls.’ All that is left is to find out the truth of who they are. If you are in this predicament you are basically consigned to a lot of spiritual suffering because the infrastructure that is available in the West for freedom is undeveloped. The Western spiritual world is just paddling around on the surface of self inquiry, trying to sort out what it is all about, pretending all that while that it knows what is happening.
And although you occasionally hear the word Vedanta bandied about these days, basically nobody, except those associated with Swami Dayananda, the Chinmaya Mission and the few who read my website and my books, have a clue about what it is. It is a shame because Vedanta can give you a provisional identity…karma yogi…that will take up the slack until you have realized your Svadharma, your true nature. And once you are clear about who you really are, who you are on the relative level is no longer an issue. Your svadharma does not change, or if it does, it is OK with you because you know for sure that you are not a doer. The beauty of identifying yourself as a karma yogi…one of Isvara’s premier limited identities…lies in the fact that your duty is clear and simple: consecrate your actions to the field with an attitude of gratitude and take the results as a gift. And success in karma yoga brings an increasing sense of well being as it neutralizes your likes and dislikes.
The next thing a karma yogi needs to know is that an action that does not involve a violation of dharma is OK assuming the action is sattvic or rajasic. The number one universal dharma is non-injury so any activity that does not involve injury to others is sanctioned. Obviously if you are looking at reality in terms of injury and non-injury then everything in the dharma field helps and hurts everything else. For example, I might be given a job as a painter. I am suited for it and I like my work. But it so happens the paint is toxic and harms the environment and may cause cancer or some other malady. What should I do? Of course there is no easy answer for this problem because of the nature of the dharma field, so you have to use your discrimination. It may be that you are suited to killing things…it seems Isvara needs killers because there have always been and will always be killers…but killing is obviously not considered a proscribed action for karma yogis. Unless, for example, you find yourself living above the Artic Circle where there are no grocery stores and no vegetables and your survival depends on taking the life of animals. If you find yourself in this situation karma yoga applies; consecrate the action, do it mindfully in the kindest way possible and take the results as a gift. Our scriptures are full of examples of people who did very worldly jobs…even prostitution…in the karma yoga spirit and realized the self.
And finally, there are five proscribed dharmas for karma yogis.
1. Worship of God in Any Form. See the beauty of Vedanta! It is not a religion but it honors the religious impulse. You can be a Muslim, Christian or a Jew and practice karma yoga.
One of the biggest problems with the Western non-duality world is its disdain for religion. Of course it is understandable from a certain point of view, in so far as unbelievable suffering has been inflicted on human beings in its name. But to abandon the religious impulse, which is just the self loving itself, because the church loses sight of the religious spirit from time to time is to throw the baby out with the bath. The desire to worship is as hard wired as the desire for identity. So choose a symbol of the self that is attractive to you and worship it regularly. Worship…which will be discussed later…invokes the self and produces a pure Subtle Body.
Here is a translation of a popular prayer. It should be sincerely spoken with great love daily.
“May all humans be well. May the great souls reveal the path of virtue to us. May there be perpetual joy for those who understand who they are. May all beings in all the worlds, terrestrial and extraterrestrial, be happy and free. May all beings be healthy. May they all have good luck and may none fall into evil ways.”
This inexpensive and most extensive prayer travels instantaneously in consciousness to all dimensions of the creation blessing every living being.
2. Unconditional Reverence for Parents. See the wisdom! Most of our stuff, positive and negative, comes from our parents. You can’t blame them because they picked up what they handed to you from their parents when they were too young to think for themselves. You have to take responsibility. As long as there is no resentment toward your parents and as long as you can see that they did their best according to what they knew and can see the gifts they gave and honor them in your thoughts daily, this is enough.
3. Worship of scriptures. The purpose of karma yoga is to gain a contemplative disposition so that you can assimilate the meaning of the teachings. But you should not think that you will start inquiry one fine day when you are contemplative. You should set aside a half an hour or an hour, or more, a day for study of Vedanta. You don’t become contemplative all at once. You have contemplative moments throughout the day and insights all along. The progression from an outward turned mind to an inward turned mind is gradual. One day you will realize how clear and peaceful your mind has become, even in the midst of a busy life. Karma yoga is for doers who have a strong desire for freedom and who understand the value of knowledge.
4. Service to humanity. When someone wants something from you, see if you can’t give them get what they want, assuming it is a reasonable desire. If you are helping others, at least you are not wasting your time indulging tamasic and rajasic habits. Service work cultivates sattva. It is difficult to practice service work because the ego can easily imagine that is it superior to those who only look after themselves. So it is important to keep it simple…no big ‘save the world’ ideas. Isvara presents opportunities every day to serve others. Service doesn’t mean doing what others want you to do, although it may. It means being open to others, not shutting them out. Serving others requires considerable mindfulness because ego, born of a sense of inadequacy and inferiority, looks for opportunities to feel special and virtuous. Service of others should be based on a recognition of the essential oneness of all of us. It is also wise because everything we need comes through others. Service oriented individuals are generally well looked after.
5. Worship of all sentient beings. The appreciation of the oneness of everything should extend to include all life forms. Practice it by respecting the environment. Recycle. Be conscious of your carbon footprint. Go green. Vegetarianism is a good way to worship life.
Two More Dharmas
As you can see, the topic of dharma is very complex. Dharma as appropriate response. Dharma as rules. Dharma as duty. Dharma as true self nature. Dharma as reflected self nature. And now two more dharmas: samanya dharma and visesa dharma.
With reference to my life do I know best or does Isvara know best? In our scriptures there is a wonderful story about a warrior who is an incarnation of the self. He is an exceptional person in every way: kind, intelligent and very popular. His actions are always thoughtful and beneficial and he follows his svadharma to the letter. But nothing in his life goes according to plan. In general when things go wrong we usually blame others but should probably start blaming ourselves because often we make foolish choices that produce unwanted karma. But although he has acted mindfully in every situation in harmony with his nature and the social order, at every turn things go ‘wrong.’ A few days before he is to be crowned king…an event that he and his wife and family and indeed the whole kingdom fervently desires…he is informed that he will not be king and will be exiled to the forest owing to an unfulfilled promise his father made to his step-mother. When he is told the ‘bad’ news he is unperturbed, neither happy nor angry, and says, “It is the duty of the son to obey the wishes of his parents” whereupon he goes happily into exile.
The idea, of course, is that there is particular order in society, a universal order that has been established by Isvara, the needs of the total. The family unit, which is the basis of society, functions properly when children respect the wishes of their parents, assuming that the parents follow the social order as well. The social order is based on the psychological order that evolves from the guna structure behind it. The purpose of this order is to bring all the apparently conflicting desires and fears of individuals into harmony so that the total functions properly. When conflicts develop everyone suffers. And the psychological order is based on the non-dual nature of reality, the one principle…consciousness/love…behind everything. If reality is non-dual, it stands to reason that the number one value of all sentient beings is non-injury. If you see a beautiful frog in the garden and you come close to feed it a fly, it will hop away as soon as it becomes aware of your presence.
Because duality…the idea that my gain is your loss…is so ingrained we all have fears for our safety, livelihood, etc. These fears can lead to various behaviors that cause injury to others. Non-injury in our tradition is defined as ‘non-injury by thought, word, or deed.” So by following the value or dharma of non-injury…the moral law…we put our lives squarely in harmony with Isvara, the giver of the law. All universal values…truthfulness, charity, freedom, non-stealing, etc…are based on the principal of non-injury. I don’t steal from you because I understand that you value your possessions and that I inflict emotional duress on you when I deprive you of them. I appreciate your feelings because I know that we are actually one; I would feel the same way were you to steal from me. Although it seems as if we are different we are actually the same…the non-dual self. I don’t lie to you because it will cause pain to you. It should not be forgotten that lying causes pain to the liar as well because dharma is built in to every sentient being. It is often called ‘conscience.’ I don’t deprive you of your freedom because I value freedom above everything. Freedom, in fact, is the ultimate non-dual value because even when I am socially, politically and physically free of limitation I am inclined to seek inner freedom.
Universal values are called samanya dharma. The problem with universal values is that that they are ‘universal.’ They exist in an ‘ideal’ realm, apparently abstracted from the exigencies of everyday life. They only mean something when they are interpreted and acted on by individuals. Interpreted values are called visesha dharma. Dharma yoga is squaring my life with universal values. It means that Isvara knows best. By yoga we mean to connect or join our actions with the will of the total.
See the downside for the ego! What happens when what I want is not in harmony with the needs of the total? A person brought up in a desire-oriented liberal, materialistic, consumer-oriented society, infected with a strong sense of personal entitlement will have a big problem with this idea. In America especially, the enduring popularity of the rebel archetype…a disdain for rules…is a stark testament to the difficulties we face when we practice dharma yoga.
If I am not keen on the idea of surrendering my will to the will of Isvara, I will be confused about the needs of the total. Some of this confusion is justified because sometimes the particular part of the dharma field that I inhabit is under the spell of adharma and it seems as if the needs of the total are evil. For example, a good law-abiding person brought up in Germany after the First World War could see the invasion of other countries and the concentration camps as the ‘needs of the total.’ And indeed, the defense of low-level citizens who were given the job of managing the concentration camps used the duty argument because they were conditioned to follow rules without thinking. But it is sometimes important to ignore the needs of the immediate total because its needs are adharmic. The ego, that part of the self that is under the spell of ignorance, is not above using clever arguments to avoid practicing dharma yoga so it is important to define the needs of the total more specifically.
The ‘needs of the total’ are always manifest in my particular environment. I always find myself in a world of apparently sentient objects…jivas…and obviously insentient objects…matter. I use this environment to get what I want. At the same time, the environment has its own needs. If I am a husband and a father, my family represents the needs of the total. The family unit fits into a bigger picture. It is the outpicturing of the universal need to live and be happy. If I come home after work and switch on the TV to unwind and ignore my children I am putting my needs ahead of my children’s needs, which is a violation of dharma. The ego will justify it in various ways…”I sweat and slave all day turning the wheels of commerce to provide for my family and I deserve to ‘relax”…but it will not really relax because dharma is built-in; I will feel guilty. Guilt is one of the most disturbing emotions and needs to be purified if the Subtle Body is to be made inquiry worthy. Guilt stems from violations of dharma.
Visesha dharma is a nunaced topic. We need to look into the meaning of the word ‘total’ in this context because it is a relative term. In the case of an individual in Germany at the time, the society was ‘the total.’ But German society was just one society in the world social order, which is controlled by Isvara. When the German ‘total’ came up against the ‘total total,’ the needs of the dharma field itself for freedom trumped German needs for power and control. When family dharma comes in conflict with the dharma of the society in which it lives, it will be disciplined because the needs of the ‘total’ come first. The law of eminent domain or the illegality of polygamy is an example.
Which ‘total’ should determine my behavior? The American government seems inclined to periodic wars. Should I pay my taxes and support those wars? Which wars are dharmic and which wars are not? You cannot argue that all war is adharmic because when adharma gets to a certain level it always comes in conflict with dharma. When adhramic forces in world culture get to a certain level of power, world war occurs and a reasonable balance between dharma and adharma is re-established. The dharma field never perishes because it is eternal but the forces of dharma and adharma are in continual conflict and therefore the human mind is always in conflict. Because all non-human living beings follow their programs implicitly there is no dharma for them. But, owing to free will humans can think and so they are subject to dharma and adharma. Understanding dharma and karma is indeed difficult because the line demarcating them is never completely clear. Sometimes good actions produce bad consequences and sometimes bad actions produce good consequences. Seen from the point of view of awareness there are no good and bad actions or consequences, only the eternal play of the dualities.
Visesha dharma, the application of samanya dharma to daily life is fraught with difficulties because of adharma. But what is contrary to dharma at one time is not necessarily contrary to dharma at another. For example, a robber who sticks a knife in the abdomen of a stranger on the street is guilty of adharmic behavior. But a surgeon who puts a knife to the abdomen of someone with an infected appendix is following dharma even if the patient dies. Both are following their svadharma. It is the nature of those with criminal samskaras to rob and it is the nature of those with saintly samskaras to heal. But the value of the action itself depends on the context. You could argue that killing a man for money satisfies the needs of the criminal for his next meal but it does so at the expense of the life of another. It is not difficult to understand that the value of life trumps the value of the next meal. The point of this discussion, however, lies in appreciation of the fact that there is a continual tension between dharma and adharma in so far as our desires are concerned. This tension is resolved by the practice of dharma/karma yoga.
Dharma is intimately connected to karma because it does not mean anything apart from the actions that support or contravene it. To keep dharma alive, action is required. In any case it is not always clear how to dharmically respond to a given situation. Should I tell the truth and hurt someone’s feelings or should I tell a white lie and feel bad because I violated the value of honestly. Incidentally, expressing one’s feelings is sometimes dharmic and sometimes not, depending on the context. Particularly insensitive individuals with a strong moral sense often find themselves involved in very unpleasant situations because of their need to ‘tell the truth.’ How I feel is a truth. It is not the truth.
People whose minds are under the spell of tamas usually want a formula for life. Because their intellects are clouded they lack the discrimination to negotiate the dharma field. They want a black and white movie. But life is shades of grey; there is usually uncertainty as to which actions are right and which actions are wrong both in terms of svadharma and visesha dharma. Therefore, on the topic of action, discrimination is always required, the idea being that an inquirer needs to perform actions that have the most beneficial impact on the Subtle Body. Or, to state it negatively, to perform actions that have the least detrimental impact, taking dharma into account.
In a nutshell, dharma yoga is sacrificing one’s personal needs for Isvara, the needs of the total…but only when there is a conflict. Do-gooders are individuals who look for opportunities to sacrifice. This does not qualify as dharma yoga if it is driven by a sense of moral inadequacy or insecurity because it builds a sense of self righteous ego. Dharma yoga is a great opportunity to bring the ego to heel and erase its sense of otherness. However, if it is your nature to help, it is important to follow your nature.
A mature cultured person is someone who is mindful of his or her own needs, but understands the need to maintain dharma as a service to the total. World literature of full of great statements about the importance of dharma and often portrays it as an epic struggle between mythic supernatural forces, but life is not a drama. It is just life. The practice of dharma yoga on a daily basis amounts to little more than the maintenance of traditions of civility or, to put it more prosaically, to observing good manners.
Spiritual practice is little more than resolving the persistent conflicts that disturb the Subtle Body. Conflict comes from not following your svadharma, from improper interpretation of samanya dharma and from anxiety for the fruits of action. Karma/dharma yoga resolves these conflicts. As the practice matures and the mind turns within and becomes peaceful, it becomes established in sattva, the light of awareness shines brightly in it and you will come to identify that ‘light’ as your own self.
(1) Your svadharma is the tendencies that motivate your lifestyle. If you are seeking freedom and are unsure what you are ‘supposed to be doing with your life’ should you still practice karma yoga and if so, why?
(2) From the jiva’s point of view my actions produce the results that go into creating my svadharma, my character, which in turn drives my actions. But Isvara determines the field that produces the need for various abilities. Which came first, the jiva’s need to act or Isvara’s need for jivas to complete the creation?
(3) What is the dharma, the duty, of a seeker?
(4) Seeking ends when you discover who you are. What should you do then?
(5) That you know you are not a doer means that you are the self but your identity as the self does not conflict with the part of you that performs actions. What actions should you do once you are free of action and its results?
(6) Why do people not act in harmony with the relative natures?
(7) How does acting in harmony affect you self confidence?
(8) Why is seeking so difficult in Western societies?
(9) What is a good provisional identity for someone seeking freedom?
(10) Non-injury in thought, word and deed is Isvara’s number one value and all the actions of a karma yogi should conform to it, but should a karma yogi do an action that may cause unintentional injury if there is no other appropriate response? Why?
(11) Five types of action are compulsory for karma yogis and should be practiced daily.
(12) In general guilt is a useless emotion. Why, however, it is important to understand its cause?
(13) What type of dharma requires constant use of one’s discrimination.
(14) How is the constant tension between dharma and adharma resolved?
(15) When a person finds himself in a relationship which causes a conflict between honesty and non-injury, which value should prevail?
(16) If there is no conflict between the needs of others and one’s own needs, does fulfilling one’s own needs constitute a violation of dharma yoga? If so, why or why not?
(17) Should a dharma yogi act out others desires if they involve a violation of his own svadharma? If so why or why not?
(18) Should a dharma yogi discriminate between the needs of the field and the wants of the field?
(19) What possible psychological danger can dharma yoga cause and why?
(20) List the three sources of conflict that karma/dharma yoga addresses.
(21) Why cannot karma yoga be divorced from dharma yoga?
(1) Yes. Because you can assume that what you are doing is your svadharma. In other words, it does not matter why you are doing what you are doing because you are always doing something. Therefore, if you want moksa you should practice karma yoga because it purifies the mind.
(2) Neither. There is no ‘first’ as far as creation is concerned. Did the chicken or the egg come first? It is impossible to tell because you can’t have one without the other. Creation is out of time. It is a projection of Maya.
(3) To apply self knowledge to the mind.
(4) What you should do is not an issue because you are no longer a doer.
(5) Whatever your karma dictates.
(6) Because they don’t know what it is. It is hidden from them because the fears and desires that arise out of the karma that they produce from not knowing their svadharma disturbs the mind so it is unable to ‘feel’ what it is right for them to do.
(7) You feel confident when you act in harmony with your svadharma and suffer low self esteem when you don’t.
(8) Because there is no spiritual infrastructure…no tradition of self knowledge to support inquiry.
(9) Karma yogi.
(10) Because it is impossible to avoid injury in every situation and a situation that is unresolved will return later in another form and demand resolution. Also, the law of unintended consequences shows that sometimes harmful actions have beneficial results. Isvara needs an instrument to deliver unwanted as well as desirble karma.
(11) Worship of one’s chosen deity. Worship of one’s parents living or dead. Study of scripture. Service to conscious beings, people and/or animals. Service to the environment.
(12) Because it may point to an adharmic thought or action that needs to be addressed.
(13) Visesa dharma. Situational dharma.
(14) By the practice of Dharma Yoga.
(15) All things being equal, the response that will produce the least agitation in the Subtle Body.
(16) No. It is preferable to act out one’s own desires than the desires of others if acting out one’s own desires does not cause conflict with others because acting out one’s own desires in the karma yoga spirit reduces the pressure of binding vasanas.
(17) No. One should not sacrifice one’s integrity for the sake of pleasing others.
(18) Yes, definitely. Assuming that a requested action does not violate the doer’s svadharma and will not cause injury to others, the dharma yogi should not waste his time acting out the gratuitous desires of others.
(19) Self righteousness. A person with low self esteem may develop a sense of self righteous superiority by helping others.
(20) Not following one’s svadharma, improper interpretation of samanya dharma and anxiety for the results of one’s actions.
(21) Because there is an ever-present moral dimension to the creation that impacts on one’s psychological well being.