What is Your Dharma?

In our studies of ancient and classical India in World History I, students read the epic, the Ramayana, and examine the idea of dharma, which is central in determining the actions of the main figures of the story. Then students wrote  about their own ethical code, where it comes from, how they use it in decisions they face.  I was so impressed with the depth of thought and commitment revealed in their responses that I want to share some excerpts.

"A good deed of dharma would be telling the truth about something even though you know it will get you in trouble or make someone mad at you. Dharma is the thought of doing something for the best of everyone."

"My dharma is living up to my beliefs of what is right or wrong. Basically my concept is to stay true to myself no matter the obstacles I may face and however they affect me....live up to the expectations of my religion by being a proactive person, which I believe is dharma because is shows good will."

"Growing up, I struggled with a disability that made it difficult for me to walk. My mother did not have the money to put me through therapy; however, my uncle stepped up and became the help I needed...Numerous other experiences have helped to make it clear for me like volunteering at the hospital in my home town, that my purpose in this world is to fulfill the simple duty of helping others. No feeling in the world can compare to the feeling of knowing you are the reason someone is healthy and happy."

"The concept of Dharma to me means a way of philosophical thinking....One thing I have always found myself doing or at least trying to do as often as possible is to reason and not go along with popular beliefs."

"I watched the movie On The Road and I was really interested in what the book talks about. So I bought the book...I started contemplating who I am when I was reading the book. The author states we should listen to and follow our own desire. That was the first time I heard about this kind of conception. I asked myself if Dean traveled around to find his desire, then what my desire was. I didn't know because my goals were always set by my parents, my teachers, and my red scarf....I realize I am still young, I don't always want to be a good good student, and I need to be on the road too."

"My Dharma is the Scout law. It is something that I try to live by every day. 'A scout is trustworthy, loyal, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean,and reverent.' Most people just think of it as something they say but I know it has a lot more meaning. Just this past Monday I had a great experience with CMARS {an adaptive skiing program for children with disabilities.} The boy was autistic and non-verbal. But he was trusting, obedient, and kind and he had a great time. I feel so lucky that I'm able to have a model like this. "

"In the closest translation from Sanskrit to English, dharma means 'purpose.' I believe that we all have a purpose in life, and that a majority of our efforts are spent trying to find out what that purpose is, or fulfilling that role....There are so many things that I am interested in pursuing, but until I choose something, I think that my dharma is to be the most courageous and truthful person I can be. It is a guide and an aspiration to live by dharma."