I’m feeling a bit jealous this morning.

My brother, who is a writer and film-maker (among other things), has been posting a weekly blog for a year now for which he receives many likes and comments and pats on the back. I, on the other hand, have been blogging since 2014 (2008 if you count poetry) and receive . . . crickets. Not only do I not get likes or comments or pats on the proverbial back, I don’t even get clicks or reads or . . . .

I get silence.

Deep space.

Even my mother (God rest her soul) had a hard time reading my blog: I forgot. Is it Thursday that it comes out? I thought it was Friday. Can you remind me? Wait, I’ll set an alarm.


Now I know this is the nature of the beast, the cross we bear as writers–rejection, or worse yet, obscurity. But the green-eyed monster would have his way: Why not me? it asks.

Why not ME?

The Ego at work. Feed me! Feed me! Feed me! Always at the table, napkin in lap, fork at the ready–Feed me!

But not this time.

Here’s why NOT me.

It is not my Dharma.



Just yesterday I was listening to a podcast in which the guest provided a definition of Dharma, so simple, so obvious, that it finally dropped the penny for me.

But before I share this nugget, let me tell you what I used to think Dharma meant.


Duty, responsibility, a life’s work.

Your Dharma was your purpose. The reason you were put on this earth. Your get-out-of-jail-free card for all the Karma you had accumulated over your past lifetimes.

Dharma is what restored balance to the universe.

Now I’m not sure where I got this definition from. I’m not even sure if it’s accurate. But this has been my understanding of it for as long as I can remember. And for as long as I can remember, I have been dutiful. Doing the right thing. Staying on the path. Striving. Serving. Suffering. All in equal measure. All in the hope of Salvation.

Then this curve ball.

Are you ready?

Okay, here goes.

“Dharma is the innate tendency of every being.
The tree’s Dharma is to grow and bear fruit.
It is not to become a river or to dress up and go to the office.”


The innate tendency of every being.

Not a gift. Not a talent. Not a skill. Not a genius. Not even a purpose or calling or duty.

But an innate tendency.

Innate–inherent, essential.

Tendency–an inclination, a moving towards.

A tree.

A river.

All beings, not just human beings.

We all have it. Dharma.

And my brother’s is to write.

Mine? I’m not sure.

Some days I think it is to eat a donut. But (jokes aside) if I were to dig deep, if I were to go to that quietest, most essential part of me, I would say it is to be curious, to learn, to absorb. I am the eternal student. Even when I am teaching, I am learning. That is what fills me. And that is also my deepest, most innate tendency–to learn, to know, to grow.

So when I write, it is to know.

My brother, on the other hand, might say he writes because he must. It is a drive, a compulsion. It is his innate tendency. His Dharma.

But I? I write to grow. The writing is just the conduit, the vehicle, the means. One means. But not my Dharma.

My Dharma is to grow.



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Categories: Reflections

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14 replies

  1. Not being that familiar with dharma, I am still struck with the distinction between duty and tendency/inclination. I will be pondering this today. Thank you!

    • Maybe “duty” is an old-fashioned word and so doesn’t resonate. How about you think about it as the more fashionable “life purpose.” Then the distinction might come alive.

  2. Commenting here to say I read and love your posts. I love how there is an element of trying to live life purposefully in almost all your posts.

  3. Duely noted Tina! I will keep reading, and learning from, your amazing insight and wisdom! Susie

  4. I love that definition of Dharma. It feels true that there is some way we want to be, some way that fits. And I love your mom’s response. Ha! Sounds just like my mom. And I do read and enjoy your blogs, Tina.

  5. Reading this with my morning hot water.

    “My dharma is to grow.”

    Also, your post made me want to eat a donut and drink vanilla/hazelnut coffee from Einstein Bagels.

  6. Leaving a comment just cause 🙂 LOVE YOUR BLOG!!!

  7. Tina, nice philosophical article and serious. But your brother writes philosophical but with a tinge of humour. You are a teacher but he is a creative film producer.

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