The director of the Institute for Extraordinary Living at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health inquires into the dharma—vocation or calling—of a selection of both illustrious and ordinary individuals.
“Yogis insist that every single human being has a unique vocation,” writes Cope. Turning to the Bhagavad Gita for guidance, the author realized the difficulty in penetrating even the first piece of advice: “Discern, name, and then embrace your own dharma.” For some, their dharma is a ready and apparent gift, but others struggle long and hard to hear that piece of inner music, that passion. So Cope illustrates this fact of life through example, drawing smooth portraits of important historical characters and twining them with glimpses into the lives of everyday people he knows. For example, he weds Henry David Thoreau’s courage to follow his muse in front of an entire town’s disapprobation with the story of a psychiatric nurse with a magical caregiving hand who needed help in recognizing and using her talent. Cope also tells the stories of Robert Frost finding a voice word by word, Walt Whitman’s wartime nursing, “a calling for which he didn’t even know he was searching,” and Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, breaking the rules to understand the connection between seeing and painting. With ringing clarity, Cope gets his main point across: that seeking is all and that dharma will allow you to bear life’s suffering. “You only get yourself when you lose yourself to some great work,” he writes.
An engaging exploration into living fully.