Ayurveda & The Four Goals of Life – Third in a 4-part series: Dharma (service)


“The word Dharma has many related but different meanings. Dharma can mean morality, righteousness, law, nature, conduct, duty or service. Dharma refers to that which is in alignment with nature’s laws. When something is in alignment with nature, it is dharmic. In this context, Dharma is a goal of life, the goal being to act and provide service in alignment with nature’s laws. Nature and her laws are Divine, they are prakriti. Thus, Dharma, in this context, refers to the highest form of service; the service that occurs when the Divine has inspired or commanded it. Thus, it can be loosely translated as “right livelihood” or work in alignment with one’s purpose. 

When work or service is motivated by the ego, it becomes about the pursuit of status, power or money. This is very alluring. Work in this capacity has the power to enslave an individual. A person becomes easily attached to money, power and status. Once attained, it can be difficult to let it go. A person whose actions are motivated by ego only feels good about herself when she achieves or accumulates. Emotions fluctuate widely with success or failure. In pursuit of money, power or status, ethics are often compromised. These individuals may abuse their power, become overly controlling or abusive to others. 

People motivated by spiritual aspirations look at their Dharma in the context of their highest contribution to society. They recognize that they are the servant of a higher power and that their body is only a vehicle through which service occurs. Each body is an instrument and each instrument is best for a certain job. The spiritual aspirant longs to discover what her instrument is best used for and then surrenders to service in that manner. Going forward with faith, the spiritual aspirant trusts that her basic needs will always be met while doing the work set out for her by God.”

Excerpt from “Principles of Ayurvedic Medicine,” by Dr. Marc Halpern, Founder of the California College of Ayurveda