Bhakti Business - The Yoga of Business is in full edit mode. It is exciting and a little nerve wracking to get the comments back from my beta readers, but the outcomes so far are beyond thrilling. It is nothing short of awesome as a writer to see people connect with your ideas and make them resonate with their own motivations and experiences. Unsurprisingly since my head is back in the manuscript, i'm seeing signs of bhakti business everywhere. My radar is fine tuned, my ears are like little bat sonars and i'm hearing people talk about their frustrations, their sadness, their attachments, their dreams and the search for contentment and stillness in overstimulated lives. Maybe that's all projection, but its my mind and i'm sticking to it!
I caught a snippet of the ABC's One Plus One program last night with Australian comedian Charlie Pickering being interviewed. You can check it out here if you haven't seen it. Charlie Pickering said a couple of things that so directly spoke to his awareness of his dharma, and what dharma is and how it operates in our lives. If you are unfamiliar with the term Dharma, depending on your school of thought or spiritual lineage can mean different things. The Hindu connotation of dharma is that your dharma is the right way to live. It’s personal in as much as only you are able to determine what your dharma is, and like a fingerprint, it is different for everyone. Some of us are born with a very clear sense of what we are here to do. I can only speculate on why that is, and in the bigger scheme of things knowing it and living it doesn’t always correlate.
What does seem to be universal is that no matter how we try and navigate around it, we are brought back in by a tide that calls us to what seems to be stitched deep into our sense of self. This purpose is our dharma, and thus our right way to live. Thereis in reality no simple English translation of dharma, and in the Buddhist traditions it means subtly a different thing. The Buddha taught a method of dharma or dharma practice, rather than a religion. The dharma in Buddhism or buddhadharma is not something to believe in, but something to do. The Buddha challenged people to understand the nature of anguish/suffering, let go of its origins, realise its cessation, and bring into being a way of life that had at its heart the best interest of all sentient beings. The dharma is a method to be investigated and tried out. It starts by facing up to the primacy and universality of suffering, then proceeds to apply a set of practices to understand the human dilemma and work toward a resolution.
In a world where we are so influenced by the opinions and actions of others, and forensically study the minutiae of ours and others lives through the portal of social media, our own path is difficult to discern. When we live in a state of comparison and judgment, under the perpetual threat of criticism and social shaming, we end up parroting the behaviour of others hoping that it will serve us and keep us under the radar. We do as we are told, or as we think we should, and hope that through this strategy happiness will appear. What we get through this method of being is suffering and endless layers of false perceptions to reverse as we sink more deeply into the mire of sense attachments. In the process, getting further and further away from even the hint of a concept like resting comfortably in our own divinity, our dharma or simple happiness.
Charlie Pickering wanted to be a comedian from early childhood, where often we see the first clear markers of what makes us feel that we are us. As he points out in the interview, it is an awkward conversation to have with your careers counsellor at high school, so instead of pursuing what he really wanted to do, he went to uni and became a lawyer. When he got to taking his articles so he could practice law, he looked around the office and noticed that the most successful lawyers were also the unhappiest. It was here that he did something really brave. He saw that pursuing this line of work was going to make him unhappy, he knew that he still wanted to be a comedian, and so he quit.
I think there is some genius in his timing, comic and otherwise. If he had simply finished school and tried out comedy, it would have been much easier to fail and not keep getting back up. To have his 'comedy period' seen as a gap year before he grew up and got a real job. By finishing his degree and beginning his career in law, he demonstrated to himself that he could work hard, achieve results and make it. But he also demonstrated that just because he could do it, didn't mean he should. To get that far and then abandon his career for comedy, that really upped the stakes. He was driven to succeed and he really wanted it. This ambition and drive is evident in both his work ethic, his material and ultimately his success. Comedy is his dharma, finding humour in all things is what motivates his life and that, for him, is enough. The interviewer asked him in the interview how he was going to change the world. And it was his response to this question that was the biggest reveal about the extent to which Charlie Pickering is actually embodying his true nature of self.
If we just unpack the question for a moment, the idea of 'changing the world' is an overlay of how much we all are expected to aspire to bigness. Especially if any level of celebrity or notoriety has been gained. It's not enough to just do your thing, there needs to be a world changing element in there for extra sauce. We all are told by endless Instagram memes to dream big, to stop playing small, etc etc. All inferring once again that we are not enough. Charlie looked bemused by the question for a brief moment, and responded by saying that he had no interest in changing the world, he was only here to find humour in things. That was all. I love this notion, the idea that in our dharma we are enough, and to be complete and content is in itself perfection. He didn't need to 'play big' as by modelling his own authenticity, the practice of his work as a comedian, and the path of choosing who you are over what you think you should be, he couldn't play any bigger if he tried. That is living dharma.
Dr Polly McGee is an author, entrepreneur educator, digital strategist and urban yogi. Her writing and teaching is informed by a life of diverse experience: she has worked in kitchens, bars and restaurants from frantic to fancy, managed multimillion dollar innovation grants programs, worked with hundreds of start-ups to refine their business ideas and source funding.
A trusted communicator on digital strategy and small business, Polly has contributed to a range of business and digital publications for private enterprise and Government clients including Start-up Smart, presented ABC Northern Tasmania’s Drive Program, and created a suite of digital, audio and video content. As co-founder of Start-up Tasmania, she was voted one of the most influential people in Australian Start-ups. Polly is currently the Strategic Marketing Lead for global edtech company Prosper Education, and President of social enterprise Produce to the People. Her first novel, Dogs of India came out in 2015. Her second book The Good Hustle will be in bookshops and online Feb 2018