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_When Duty Calls_

Last week I wrote about doing one's duty. An interesting question came from Rastra KunwarHow do you know what your duty is? This question is quite relevant because very often we perform our roles but not necessarily our duties - A lethargic worker at office, a disengaged spouse at home or disillusioned student in classroom.

When can you ask this question?

Before we go into what our duty is, it is important to know what our state of mind should be before we attempt to answer this question. Unless we cultivate the mind-set with the qualities of honesty, of humility, of unselfishness, generosity, of compassion to all living beings, it is futile to ask "What our duty is?" Only when we have developed this mind-set can we go ahead and ask "How do you know what your duty is?" If we have not met this pre-requisite we shall never get the right answer to figuring out our true duty because we will have no clarity of purpose for which we are performing our duties.

Discovering our Duty

All living beings are constantly involved in changing something to bring about a transformation. Change is essential to life itself - From something as simple as digesting food to something as complex as solving for world hunger. Our duty is linked to this change - The Why, What and How of this is as below:

WHY - The reason we want to bring about a particular change is our purpose in life

WHAT - Once the purpose becomes clear, bringing about the change we want to see in this world becomes our duty

HOW - The way to bring about this change is by using the unique skills we are endowed with

So how can we discover our true duty? Let's use the framework below to figure it out.


A) Be honest

B) Assume there are no constraints

C) This is about you - Not your spouse, kids, parents, company or society

Question 1: If there is one thing that you could change what would that be? Why is this change important to you?

Question 2: If you had a magic wand where do you see yourself post this change? What impact are you creating on anyone other than yourself post this change? How are you feeling? How are others around you feeling?

Question 3: What skills do you have that enables you to achieve this change?

So once we have cultivated the mind-set of honesty and compassion, and answered the above questions, our purpose in life and duty will be as clear as a crystal.

But here is the challenging bit. Most people will be able to see their purpose and duty as clear as a crystal but will yet not be able to act on that purpose. They will have “logical constraints" (a concoction of their own self learned helplessness) as to why they can't truly do what they want to do. There could be things such as family, money, relationship, health etc. And these are all valid concerns. Now the mistake which we make is that we believe we live in a binary world. It is either everything or nothing. Fortunately the world is not that digital. As Karl Marx wishes in his Utopian world "It (is) possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticize after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic." Even in real world, we can do at least two things – One that caters to our logical constraints and other that helps us truly achieve our purpose. Proverbial fisherman by the day and film critic by the night scenario. It doesn't matter if we are not the best at achieving our purpose on day one. We just need to be better. But better than whom? Better than our own self. We need to compete against our own self not against others. As long as we are a better version of ourselves today than we were yesterday, we are already inching towards our purpose while performing our true duty. As I had in my previous post, even if we are just 1% better today than we were yesterday, in a year's time we will be 38 times better!


In conclusion, as Harry tells Sally in the famous 1989 movie "When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible." The day you realize this with regards to your purpose wherein you lose your sleep, can't wait to act on it, and there is a constant unease in your body is when you have truly discovered your duty in life!

Part 1: Do your Duty

Part 2: What is your duty?

#Gyanalogy #Duty #Wisdom #Karma #Gyan #Wisdom

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