Dharma is the path we have to follow to fulfill our destiny, in the Spirit and the flesh. It’s the struggle for virtue amidst the vicissitudes of life. Dharma encompasses morality, ethics, and religious righteousness, but transcends them all. By following the dharma, we gradually lighten our load of karma from past actions, ascend ever closer to God, and increase our chances for realization of OM (Spirit).
I live by a set of seven guidelines called RamaDharma. It’s a specialized path for certain people, definitely not for everybody ~ but I feel that it may be informative or helpful to a broader audience, so I’ll present it here in a series of posts.
First Dharma, Step One:
Since time began, or at least the human species, the first step on the spiritual path has been ever the same. In essence it’s the first of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and its many spin-offs: the realization and admission that you’re not up to snuff, and are powerless to change it on your own steam.
AA itself was a spin-off of a Christian organization called the Oxford Group, whose charismatic crusade swept the world in the 1930s. It used the traditional Christian term for the first step: conviction of sin. The postmodern era is also post-Christian for many people, but anyone who’s serious about spiritual development has to accept that there is a timeless primal reality behind the concept which Judeo-Christian-Muslim religion labeled “sin”. You can think of it as the inherent imperfection of the ego, and in fact New Age spirituality recognizes that the ego must be surrendered, cast off, outgrown, or otherwise transcended.
There’s a big pitfall in this usage, however: it enables too many people to miss the point that the fault is in themselves. Some people take the ego to be some kind of abstract psychologism, and even question its existence. To clear up this mass evasion, you have to face the hard fact that the ego is YOU ~ it’s precisely what you identify as yourself. So the problem is you, what has to change is you. And since the ego can’t save itself from the ego, you are utterly helpless to do it yourself. Once you become convinced (“convicted”) of this humbling truth, then YOU are ready to surrender to something beyond yourself. Our term for this first step is self-conviction.