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Dharma is a concept that originated during the ancient Vedic Period in India and is well known in the Indian Religions of Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism. Simply, Dharma can be defined as the destiny or natural path of an individual that is set forth by the cosmos.* Simon Chokoisky, author of The 5 Dharma Types, best described individuals living their innate dharma type as “dancing to the rhythm of [their] lives” (pg. 29).
The 5 Dharma types are: Laborer, Educator, Merchant, Warrior and Outsider. The associated “elements” and “qualities” of each are:
Laborer: Earth: Security
Educator: Air: Freedom
Merchant: Water: Enjoyment
Warrior: Fire: Purpose
It is believed that every person is born with a purpose or divine path. The personal characteristics that an individual has allow them to identify more closely with one of the five Dharma types. One key component is the understanding that no single Dharma is better or worse than another. In fact, all Dharma Types need to be expressed in order for society, and the world as a whole, to succeed. Laborers are just as important as Educators: Earth is just as necessary as Air. Without one the other will not exist long. Security with food is just as important as Freedom to live and breathe.
Looking at Dharma from an individualistic perspective can help in finding one’s true happiness. If personal characteristics and higher destinies are allowed to flourish and shine then true happiness can be found. There is plenty of life and opportunity for all Dharma types to follow their unique paths. The endless well of happiness is diminished when someone is unable to live his or her highest destiny. This can happen by individual choice or by expectations placed upon individuals by society. A perfect example of this can been seen in the struggles of modern society. Merchant types, who emphasize profit and productivity, are currently the leaders in political positions in the United States (Chokoisky). The policies and values that are set forth by Merchants force individuals to neglect their true calling in order to survive in a Merchant-run society. Laborers struggle to put food on the table and Educators cannot afford to share their wisdom and knowledge as freely as they’d wish. Racism, classism, and all other forms of judgment and discrimination are perpetuated when society does not accept people living their Dharma Types. If people were encouraged to explore the true colors of their hearts and were open to accepting the true colors of everyone else’s without judgment then society would, inevitably, be complete, successful, and happy. No one individual is more important than another. Earth, Air, Water, Fire, and Space are all equally essential for life. Genuine happiness truly exists in “dancing to the rhythms of our lives”.
Reference: The Five Dharma Types: Vedic Wisdom for Discovering Your Purpose and Destiny by Simon Chokoisky © 2014 Destiny Books.