“I want to find the thing that God put me on Earth to do. And when I find that, I am going to do it with all of my heart.” -Kino MacGregor
In preparation for meeting Kino, I watched a series of video interviews with her. I noticed she spoke often of teaching yoga as her “dharma” or true vocation, as her spiritual purpose.
In the late afternoon, I gently pour her another cup of tea, and tell her of my experience. I have found among many students of yoga a despair when it comes to finding their true purpose. They are not sure where to begin, how to access their life’s work, or make a living with what feels like their true calling. I ask her if she could offer any insight or wisdom.
“I think the place to start for anyone who is unsure of what exactly their dharma is, what exactly their life mission is, is first of all to look at their life. Look at the things that are reflected back, look at the things that bring them the most joy, the things they spend the most time on.
And a really great way to sort of ask yourself that question and find that answer within yourself is to remove the notion of doubt.
So many people have a secret dream, a private dream that they don’t even dare to speak out loud because it’s so nascent, its so tender, and they don’t want anyone to squash it at that moment, and they don’t even believe in it themselves, so it’s almost this unspoken inner truth. And I think one of the greatest ways to speak to yourself, to get that out, is to ask yourself this question:
What would you do if you knew there was no possibility of it failing?
And to answer that completely honestly. And see where that takes you.
This feels like a powerful starting point. And so I enquire more deeply, about our notions of purpose. Perhaps, about the purpose of yoga, itself.
Many critique the Ashtanga yoga method, as being a very physically driven practice. I ask her to speak to this—whether she feels this diverts students away from the true purpose of yoga as a path to Self-realization. Her answer surprises me (in a good way).
“When we start to do advanced asanas, we think we are hot shit. However, I have really started to think—what is the purpose of being these beautiful, strong beings if our purpose is not to help others, not to share that in a way that is compassionate towards others? All of the strength and all of the beauty that you accumulate and all of the brightness that comes from the practice—what is the purpose of that? If not to help others?”
I sip my jasmine tea and sense an inner contentment with the direction of the conversation. I have often questioned our notion of “dharma” as a physical vocation in the outer world. When we think of this concept, our minds immediately attach it to our positions or work in the external world. Of course, I believe that is one aspect of it, but perhaps it holds deeper layers.
Maybe, it is not only about what we do, but how we do it. We set the conditions in the internal world (by infusing our love, creativity and soul essence into whatever it is we do), and the outer purpose or work will, somehow, eventually, align with that essence. In this way, we allow room for the unexpected.
As these thoughts tumble through my head, Kino continues,
“I never really thought teaching yoga was going to be my life path. I was a student of yoga and loved studying yoga but I never thought of myself as someone who was going to be a teacher. But for me, what started to happen, was that the world started giving me feedback. People started asking me to teach. It was something that was being reflected back all around me.”
I take that in with my tea, which is now soft and warm on my throat, and ask her, mindfully, what her advice is for those who want to explore yoga as their dharma.
“What is most important for students is that they have inspiration to practice. First of all, you should find a practice you enjoy, something that connects with you as a person. Secondly, find a teacher that you trust and love and connect yourself with that teacher, and devote yourself to a lineage-based practice that has as its aim and its intention to awaken the inner self, the direct experience of the inner self—so it is a spiritual based lineage practice.”
She seems to speak to our larger, spiritual purpose, here—our collective dharma—to awaken the inner self, to find direct experience of the inner self. As that Self awakens, our work in the world aligns.
In a beautiful synchronicity, Kino brings up the Bhagavad Gita as an important, foundational text for yogis to read and study. She declares it is a story about how to be in the world, that embraces suffering, and challenges our mortal inclination to quit when things get tough. I recall to her my favorite line from the Gita:
“Yogastah Kuru Karmani”
Roughly translated, it means “Established in Being, Perform Action.”
In other words, when we are established in the true essence of our Being, we cannot help but act in ways that are in accordance to that being. Our actions and external life aligns.
This, perhaps, is one of the most powerful ways yoga becomes a pathway to finding our true dharma, or calling, in the world.
Suddenly, an internal peace steams from my heart. It seems our interview, over tea, is complete.
I bow to her, and thank her for her Being.
And I bow to you, and thank you for yours.