As you probably know, the first Christians were known as followers of “the Way”. The “Way” has far more Eastern-sounding theological implications than some Western pastors are willing to admit; Jerusalem was the crossroads of the East and the West. “The Way” sounds similar to the Eastern concept of dharma, which has many definitions but could be considered “the way” a person should live his life. Each person’s dharma is his own, and no one can tell him what it is but himself.
In a story Ram Dass tells about his own spiritual journey, he recounts time spent in a monastery in Tibet. After nearly two months of intense meditative training, he received a telegram that his step-mother was gravely ill with cancer, and that she was no longer able to care for his invalid father. Ram Dass’ spiritual mentor at the time advised him to stay and complete his training; he was, apparently, close to finishing and learning some fundamental truths. But Ram Dass says that he realized that while he desperately wanted spiritual enlightenment, he was also a nice Jewish boy from Boston with a father to care for. So he left the temple in Tibet to help his father bathe, use the toilet, and carry out all of life’s other simple functions. It wasn’t until several years later than Ram Dass realized his “way” to enlightenment, his dharma, was through caring for his father. Dharma through service. Sounds eerily familiar to Christianity, doesn’t it?
In my personal reflections on Scripture I’ve often lamented that unlike the Apostles, most of us can’t abandon our lives to Christ. We’ve got spouses and kids to care for. How can our way to salvation, our dharma, be like that of the Apostles? Based on Ram Dass’ story, I’d say it doesn’t have to. Peter, Paul, James, and John had their dharma; you and I have ours. And while our dharma probably won’t involve public torture and execution, it is no less valid.
So whatever you do today, do it as if you were serving the Lord. Because your dharma likely involves whatever God has set before you, simple as it may seem to you now.
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
1 Corinthians 10:31, ESV