Month: October 2011

Finding Your Dharma…"You are the artist of your life."


As a Hindu I have been spending my life trying to find my dharma. For those not familiar with the concept, read the following description.  Keep in mind that dharma is a complex concept that is hard to sum up into a single definition.  Through the practice and understanding of spirituality, one can start to understand dharma in full detail:

"Dharma is one of the most important themes within Hinduism. One often sees dharma translated as religion, duty, or even righteousness, but in fact, there is no single direct translation for dharma. Religion, duty and righteousness are not wrong; they are simply included within the idea of dharma. The word "dharma" comes from the Sanskrit root dhri, meaning to "uphold" or to "sustain." From this perspective, the best way to think of dharma is to say, "that which upholds or sustains the positive order of things: the nation, the community, the family and ultimately even the universe." At a social level, every individual has a particular dharma according to their place in life."

Dharma can be understood as one’s purpose in life at this moment of their existence.  Dharma is that which fulfills one’s soul and fulfills their duty in the universe.  Other spiritual practices such as Christianity describe this concept as a “vocational calling.”  Whatever way it is described, we can all relate to the idea of trying to find what we are meant to do on this earth.  One of the reasons I started blogging was to find my purpose, hence my blog’s name.  And through blogging, writing poetry, and journaling, I have come closer to discovering it.  My lifelong relationship with my spirituality has been another pivotal source of guidance.  Through prayer and meditation I search my soul to find what will fulfill me.


Being a person who has many interests, I sometimes struggle to know which path I am truly meant to take.  But under all my goals and dreams, there has always been something calling deep inside.  This force has led me to have a constant passion for changing the world.  As long as I can remember, I always wanted to be an activist (even before I knew what the word meant).  I realized this was not a path to monetary riches, but there was another type of richness I gained from helping.  It is a joy that is activated when I feel as if I have added to the positive of the world.  It’s a high that is essential to my self-preservation.  Because I realize that my desire to be a humanitarian, an activist, a voice of change gives me so much.  Yet people think I am completely selfless in my choice to help.  But I realize I am not.  It is what I am meant to do, and therefore if I don’t, I will not be fulfilled.  So part of my reason to help is “selfish” so to say.  It is a need I have…my dharma.  It is what “upholds” and “sustains” me as a person.  My need to help is not just to be a good person.  I realized that is not enough of a reason alone.  Because when things get hard, it will be tough to stay on my path if it’s not my passion and purpose.   I will also be doing a disservice to others by not being true to what makes me happy.  Because finding our purpose has less to do with being “good” and more to do with being “true.”  I understand more now than ever that we cannot fight who we are, and we cannot judge ourselves based on what others are doing.


Accepting this has been a lifelong struggle.  At times it’s hard to filter out the other influencers aside from my spirituality.  Loved ones, society, media, culture, and beyond pull me in different directions, making it hard to know how I am best meant to live out my existence.  But I see now we all serve a certain need in the universe.  The need of the painter is just as important as the need for the president.  All paths have the same value because they serve a unique purpose.  Whether our purpose is to be the best entrepreneur, artist, activist, spiritual leader, parent, or beyond we must believe in our purpose and not let anything stand in our way.  We also must accept that our purpose is fluid and can change over the course of our life.  Spending time in deep reflection has helped me to tune out the noise and listen to the call of my dharma.


I’ll leave you with this link to a great piece of writing on the topic of dharma.  Take a moment to read it, and I think you’ll find a deeper understanding of the concept.  Spend some time reflecting on your life and what path has been calling you.  Try to push away the distractions and find peace so you can hear the message the universe is sending you.  Please share your personal journey in the comments section.

Psychology Today Puts Up Racist & Sexist Piece…Online Protesters Pull It Down




Psychology Today recently published, then retracted an article entitled, “Why Are Black Women Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women.”  The website seemed to be using racism and sexism in order to attract attention.  Clearly they got it, after all I am sitting here writing a post about them.  Such happenings do need attention, but not for the marketers’ intended reasons.  It needs attention so we can remember how dangerous such mainstream media sources can be.  Such outlets spend a great deal of time driving viewership through sensationalized or downright false information.  And it seems that the author of the article, Satoshi Kanazawa, is a fan of spreading false information (aka “junk science”).  For any individual who has an awareness of racism and sexism, the title alone sets off rage.  You know this is an article full of pure bullshit in order to backup the commonsense beliefs of bigots.  The scary thing is that there are people out there who want to believe such concepts, such as Mr. Kanazawa and his readers who support him.  Stereotypes are lies created by fear and ignorance.  When publications that are supposedly educated attempt to verify prejudice through science, they cease to have credibility.  Despite the fact that the article was removed soon after an online outcry, it wasn’t fast enough to avoid damage.  The words were out there and met the eyes of many, from the racists and sexists who condone such thoughts to the black women who had to read it and realize the only ugly thing was Kanazawa’s thoughts.  The article (or the reaction to it) showed the strength that people have when they say “fuck you” to hate speech, to racists, to misogynists, to sexists, to xenophobes.  But even as I try to look at the positive of the situation, I know that I can’t erase the pain that many individuals felt when they read the article.  I know how I have felt in the past, being judged by others for being female and of color.  I remember letting racist and sexist comments break down my self-esteem.  I remember letting many people tell me the definition of beauty and obscure my subjectivity.  I remember finally getting that, that was just it – beauty is subjective…only measured through my eyes.  And from there I started healing my esteem and learning to be happy with me…brown, female, and all.


One major point I want to make is about the concept of statistical significance.  As a sociologist by training, I get upset when I see statistics being used to support a flawed hypothesis.  Kanazawa’s scientific conclusions are something we have seen since the subject of science was studied.  In a patriarchal world, where men outnumber women in most fields, including science, it’s not surprising to find studies like this.  The majority of science as a whole comes from a white, hetero-male’s point of view (aka “Western standards”), and therefore science reflects this bias.  Therefore we find researchers publishing findings that have no significance, but support a biased belief that works better for marketing purposes.  An article published in the “Journal of Theoretical Biology” explains the flaws of statistical significance eloquently:

“…another problem is the confusing connection between statistical significance and sample size. It is well known that, with a large enough sample size, one can just about always find statistical significant, if small, effects. But it is not so well realized that, when effects truly are small, there is little point in trying to find them with underpowered studies.”

The paper goes on to explain the flaws in findings such as Kanazawa’s previous research.  The take home point is to always check the validity of statistics and hypotheses, and to never blindly believe supposed correlations.  That way when you see a “shock-factor” title for an article such as Kanazawa’s you don’t waste your time absorbing lies.  In the age of sensationalism, statistics are skewed to meet planned agendas.  Don’t get lost in the notions of numbers.



Finally, I hope readers take time to reflect on the concept of beauty.  Humans spend a great deal of time concerned about how they appear to others.  Think you’re above it?  Well if you’re human you’re not.  Just think about choices such as picking out clothing to wear, deciding how to cut your hair, picking a job, or even buying a vehicle.  Such processes involve a moment of decision where we imagine how these things represent us.  There is no “right/ wrong” or “good/ bad” choice, until we add our subjective beliefs.  Just as we are judged by the clothes we wear, we are judged by the face and body we happen to have.  As a personal exercise, spend the next week observing how you judge others physically.  Next reflect how you judge yourself.  See any similarities?  A wise friend once told me that we are all about ourselves.  Many times when we find ourselves judging others harshly on their looks, it may be because we judge ourselves that hard as well.  Our reactions to others can be an extension of our reactions to ourselves.  After doing this exercise, journal about your experience and see if your notion of beauty has changed.  Realize that beauty is a social construction, influenced by your own view and society’s.  In many ways, the concept of beauty is exploited to control people’s choices.  We see this when a person cuts into their body to change its shape, objectifies another and breaks them into desired “types” and “parts”, or believes pre-conceived notions based solely on physical attributes.  In the end, beauty is a meaningless term when applied to physicality, because there can never be a definition for that which is completely subjective.  We are all “beautiful” and “ugly” because any one individual can subjectively feel that way about us.  All the scientific brainwashing in the world won’t change that.  So let’s not just say “fuck you” to racism and sexism, but also to the concept of beauty as a whole.  Accept that you are exactly the way you are supposed to be…by the laws of nature, by the laws of the powers that be, by the laws of reality.  Your uniqueness is your attraction.



Want to give Psychology Today a piece of your mind?  Contact them here.  Each person who speaks up against false beliefs strengthens the cause for equality…let your voice be heard.