The Great Work of your Life
Updated: Jul 3, 2018
This is the story of the book that changed my life...
There are so many things that happen to us that can shift our lives and take us to a completely different path. It’s either a book we read that touches us deeply and makes us rethink the way we are living our lives. Or maybe it's an interesting conversation with a like-minded friend that just shifts our perspective completely. Or maybe it’s the end of a relationship that makes us look within, dig deep to get to know ourselves better and understand what we want.
I have had many of those moments, but there is one in particular I want to share with you today, about how a book called The Great Work of Your Life by Stephen Cope has changed my life.
It was a cold Sunday morning. I was feeling slightly hangover from a couple of glasses of wine I had had the night before. Back in those days I felt disconnected from myself, distant from my truth and completely crushed feeling heartbroken, healing from a relationship that had ended before it had even started. I had a private Yoga class booked with my teacher, and even though I was feeling low, I didn’t want to cancel on her, and on myself mostly. So I went.
I remember struggling so much. It was so hard to focus on my practice. At the end of our session, I can’t remember exactly what we were talking about, but it was when she recommend this book. She said: “Are you ready to do the work? Are you ready for change?” That was all I needed to hear to have my curiosity triggered. I bought the book on the same day and started devouring it a few days later.
The book starts with a straight forward question that says:
What do you fear the most in life?
That instantly made me dive deep in thoughts. The author goes on and answers that his biggest fear is he will die without having lived fully. That he might have lived too much of a safe life and hasn’t taken enough risks to live his life at its fullest potential.
Wow! That moment I closed the book and sat back for a while. I needed some time to process what I felt when I read that one sentence. I couldn’t relate more to those words. Back then I had a glimpse of what I wanted to do with life, of what I wanted to create, but I didn’t have the courage to take a leap of faith and just do it.
I felt a yearning deep within my soul to create something, to bring something forth and share it with the world. It was almost as if I could listen to my potential calling out for me, but I was too scared to respond. So not acting on it felt more comfortable. I was safer hiding behind the walls I had built for myself. But that doesn't mean I was happy. This scenario would shift completely by the way, by the time I was done with the book.
There is this sentence that really touched me:
If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you. Gospel Thomas
I knew I had something that was calling up to me. I just had to embrace it and take the next step. Which for that moment, was reading this book with my whole heart and soul.
The Great Work of your life is a masterpiece that talks about how each and everyone one of us has a purpose in this life, an unique vocation, a mission that is only ours to own and embrace. It’s a book about not only finding our passion but also about how to recognize it, embrace it and bring it forth. He uses the word Dharma which in the Yoga tradition, very basically speaking, means path, vocation or sacred duty. Yogis believe that our greatest responsibility in life is to honour and fulfill our vocation.
And come on, that is the one million dollar question right? What is my vocation? What is my purpose? What is my path?
I am not interested here in sharing the entire book with you, mainly because I truly hope you read it, especially if you are asking yourself the questions above. I am here to share with you, a bit of how this book helped me to identify my dharma and create the courage to look and act on it, and bravely start my journey towards the life I wanted to create.
He mentions the 4 Pillars of Dharma which are:
Look to your dharma.
Do it full out.
Let go of the fruits.
Turn it over to God.
We all have something that is unique to us. A gift, a talent, whatever you wanna call it. It’s usually something we do with ease almost. It triggers our curiosity and fills our hearts with inspiration. It gets us in that state of flow when it seems like we lose track of time.
Think about your life so far and answer these questions:
What are you naturally curious about?
What are the things you love doing that make you lose track of time?
What are the things you are naturally good at?
What comes natural and easy to you?
What are these things that make you heart sing whenever you think about them? It is not a coincidence that you feel inspired when you engage with those things. Spend some time doing the work, digging deep to find what those things are. They can be what guides you towards your Dharma, your purpose. Turn in, and with so much kindness and curiosity, listen in, look to your Dharma, discern, name it. And then embrace it.
Once you have identified what it is, then don’t waste time and do it full out. Bring it forth. I am not telling you to quit your full time job straight away without having a back up plan, I am telling you to embrace what your Dharma is, to own it and start taking inspired actions (even if that means doing one small thing every single day) that will take you closer to it.
What can you do today that will take you closer to your purpose?
The more you engage with your passions, the more you align with your own flow. And then things start happening. You can’t expect to see change if you don’t work for it. Energy flows where your attention goes.
Bring everything you got to it. If two hours a day or maybe one hour a day is all you have to dedicate to working on your Dharma, and living it passionately, do it. That is more than enough for now! You have to start somewhere, right? Slowly but surely.
Once you start acting on your purpose, consider letting go of the attachment to the results. Meaning, don't let the expectation for the result be what drives you. Let go of trying to control the outcome. Let go of grasping the idea of being successful and simply do what lights your soul. Do it for the love of doing it. Do it because you love it so much and you just want to share that with the world. The moment we obsessively focus our awareness to the results, we are taking our attention away from the only thing we can actually act on: the action itself. We cannot control the outcome, but we can control our actions and move from the present moment. Believe me, the results will come at the right time once you start working wholeheartedly on what makes you happy.
And finally, turn your actions over to God, to the divine, to the Universe, to your most supreme self, whatever you wanna call it, turn your actions to something higher than yourself. This last bit is all about having unwavering faith and deep trust that if you are living your Dharma, the Universe will somehow find a way to help you out, and it will all work out. It will provide you with enough support and plenty of opportunities for you to own, engage and work on your Dharma. And believe me, that is exactly how it works!
Our passion is always in pursuit of us and we don’t have to chase it all the time. Our life’s purpose, our Dharma is referred as a calling because it is calling out to us.
The problem is that we are constantly running through life, grasping for a meaning outside of ourselves, looking out for answers when we should be looking in, that we miss the call coming from our innermost self. We miss out on the opportunities that are taking us to where we want to go, simply because we are not aware and paying attention.
So look towards what makes you happy. Pay attention to those things in your life that trigger your curiosity. Do more of whatever brings you joy and lifts your energy. These things can be the gateway to finding the great work of your life!