The Five Dharma Types:
Discover Your Unique Spiritual Path and Mind Body Constitution


five-dharma-type-paths-lavender-fields-2knowing which of the five dharma types you are helps you understand your unique journey through life.

Discover Your Dharma Type

Below you will find a test to help you discover your dharma type. Choose the answers that describe you best; you can choose up to four for each multiple choice question if you are unable to decide. Not all of their

qualities have to fit, though they should at least elicit a gut reaction of “yeah, that’s me”—even if you don’t necessarily like them! Check the answer key at the bottom of the test to tally your choices. The two that receive the most tallies likely indicate your dharma type.

*Another way to find your dharma type is to consult your Vedic life map. This requires an accurate birth time and place, though it is often possible to use general information such as “around 10 a.m.” This technique not only zeroes in on dharma type, which remains the same, but also on the sequence of life cycles (different periods experienced as we travel through life and assume different roles and karmas). Dharma type practitioners can be found at


“Often we see ourselves differently from how the rest of the world perceives us.”


It is useful to have friends or relatives help us with the tests and descriptions. Often we see ourselves differently from how the rest of the world perceives us. We may also be in a cycle that makes it difficult to access our essential dharma type. Life cycles can tint our basic expression like different colored lenses—some enhance our light while others sometimes diffuse it—so take your whole life into consideration when reading the following descriptions, and have a friend or relative help you in the process. Looking at yourself from childhood to now will provide a complete portrait that should help determine your type.

Dharma Type Self Test

Circle the answers that best apply to you. You may choose more than one answer for each question if applicable. Try to think of qualities that are permanent in you, how you have always been, rather than how you are at times or during recent changes in your life. Tally them up at the end to determine your dharma type.

1. Choose the word that means the most to you or describes you best.

a. Freedom
b. Loyalty
c. Wisdom
d. Honor
e. Prosperity

2. Choose the phrase that means the most to you or describes you best.

a. Independence and Bliss
b. Love and Devotion
c. Worldliness and Knowledge
d. Discipline and Perfection
e. Entertainment and Fun

3. Choose the phrase that means the most to you or describes you best.

a. I love being alone. Sometimes I hate people, sometimes I like them, but they usually don’t understand me.

b. I don’t mind being alone as long as I have something constructive and productive to do.

c. I love being alone. I like people but I need time to spend by myself for quiet contemplation and rejuvenation.

d. I don’t mind being alone, as long as I have a goal to accomplish.

e. I hate being alone. I prefer the company of people, even if I don’t know them.

4. Choose the phrase that means the most to you or describes you best.

a. I like strange, dark, or wild and remote places no one has ever thought of or been to.

b. I like the plains and wide expanses of earth. I like living close to the ground, on ground floors rather than in high-rise apartments.

c. I like high and remote places. I like upper floors, high-rise buildings, and living above others looking down.

d. I like challenging places, places that are high, but not so high as to be remote. I like fortified and strong places.

e. From the Beverly Hills to gently rolling slopes, I like places where the action is, places that are easy to get to, but also exclusive. I like living in the middle ground, not too high, not too low, where there is activity and access to the world.

5. Choose the sentence that describes you best.

a. I am the rebel or black sheep of my family. As a parent, I give freedom to my kids and let them individualize themselves from others.

b. I am deeply bonded with my family. As a parent, I nurture my kids by making sure they are well fed, healthy, and content.

c. I tend to teach my family and urge them to improve themselves. As a parent I make certain my kids learn how to think for themselves, get a good education, and understand the world.

d. I am the strong one in my family. As a parent I lead by example and earn my kids’ respect with discipline and order.

e. I actively support my family with shelter and resources. As a parent I provide for my kids and make sure they understand the value of money, self-effort, and making your way in the world.

6. In religion I most value the following:

a. Going my own way.
b. Faith and devotion.
c. Study and scripture.
d. Penance and discipline.
e. Rituals and observances.

7. In marriage I most value the following:

a. An unconventional spouse, one who understands my particular quirks and desires.

b. A dutiful spouse who is loyal and provides for me: a woman who cooks and cleans/a man who brings home the bacon.

c. A sensitive, intelligent spouse.

d. A challenging spouse with whom I can do activities.

e. A beautiful spouse.

8. I mainly watch TV for:

a. Horror, alternative political and spiritual viewpoints, science fiction (like the sci-fi, FX, indie, and alternative channels).

b. Family, drama, history, and community programs (like soap operas, reality TV, daytime shows, cartoons, entertainment gossip, and reruns).

c. Educational, thought-provoking, human-interest stories and entertainment (like National Geographic, PBS, Syfy, and documentary channels).

d. Sports, action, news, and politics; adventure stories and entertainment (ESPN, CNN, etc.).

e. Fun programs, drama, music, comedy, game shows, financial and motivational stories and entertainment (like HBO, the Comedy Channel, and Spike).

9. Under stress I tend to:

a. Bend the rules or lie to get my way; feel invisible and self-deprecate.

b. Become lazy, close down in my own space, and worry a lot.

c. Be scatterbrained, feckless, and wishy-washy.

d. Become anger prone, inattentive, and reckless.

e. Be moody, depressed, loud, and restless.

10. At my best I am:

a. A revolutionary, an inventor, a genius.

b. A devoted friend, a hard worker, a caregiver.

c. A counselor, a teacher, a diplomat.

d. A leader, a hero, a risk taker.

e. An optimist, a self-starter, a promoter, an adventurer.

Answer Key for Self Test I

Tally your answers now. The most selected letter likely reflects your dharma type.

a. Outsider
b. Laborer
c. Educator
d. Warrior
e. Merchant

BE FIT: Your Type as a Guide for Life

In this chapter we will look at how to master your dharma type and use it to reach your potential in every area of your life. Even if you are completely new to these archetypes, the BE FIT five-step plan will take you from zero to hero in no time.

“Speak truth and do your dharma.” – Taittiriya Upanishad

spiritual-path-dharma-type-mountainsknowing your dharma type is a critical tool for helping you navigate the path of life. photo: joshua earle

“B”—Be Yourself

The first step is to get to know your dharma type. Once you’ve taken the test and narrowed it down to one or two types, read the summaries below and take them out for a spin. Get an idea of the strengths and weaknesses associated with each type.*

*For more detailed information on each dharma type, refer to my book The Five Dharma Types. Or you might consult with a dharma type practitioner to help you understand your type, the life cycles, and the specific challenges at any given time.


Free Enlightened Living Course: Take Your Happiness, Health, Prosperity & Consciousness to the Next Level

Discover powerful insights and techniques for creating radiant health, happiness, prosperity, peace and flow in your life and relationships.


+ Strongly idealistic, but not necessarily practical
+ Noted for intelligence and grasp of abstruse concepts
+ Generally not forceful, physically less resilient than other 
+ Good counselors, but unable to follow their own counsel
+ Motivated by truth rather than money, but prone to indiscretions like anger, lust, or greed due to a lack of control over their senses
+ Sanskrit terms: jnana, dayaa, kshanti: wisdom, compassion, forbearance


+ Culture, beliefs, race, physicality, and other traits make them different from their immediate environment
+ Travels to or lives in foreign lands and different or unusual places
+ Absorbs and adopts foreign ideologies and concepts
+ Incredibly adaptive, able to blend in and wear many hats
+ Resents establishment and the “normal” life of others
+ Keenly aware of injustices in society, be they economic, educational, or political
+ Values personal freedom over other things
+ Sanskrit terms: ananda, kaivalya, svatantriya: bliss, isolation/independence, freedom


+ Motivated by challenge to improve self and others
+ Interested in protecting those who cannot protect themselves
+ Responds to defiance and competition
+ Values knowledge, wisdom, and innocence in others
+ Sanskrit terms: yukti, virya, viveka: skill, strength, 


+ Strongly motivated to secure personal and family interests
+ Needs to be around others, feels lonely or empty without company
+ A smooth talker: likeable, glib, socially active, and highly entertaining
+ Feels best when giving, at first to family, then to community, and eventually the world
+ Understands how the Merchant society functions and is good at taking advantage of it
+ Sanskrit terms: shakti, rasa, danam: energy, juiciness, charity


+ Strong likes and dislikes
+ Deep sense of community and belonging
+ Emotional ties and loyalty to their own things: family, country, job, home team
+ Good physical strength and endurance, and a powerful work ethic
+ Capable of great service and self-sacrifice
+ Strong intuition and specific intelligence, but not well rounded
+ Sanskrit terms: bhakti, seva, dhriti: devotion/love, service, solidity/endurance

Common Emotions
 For Each Type

Once you are sure of your type, memorize the key emotions associated with it from the list below. Remember that you cannot act outside of your dharma and be happy over the long term. You cannot pretend to be someone else and find lasting success, because that is a crime against wisdom. The root of all dis-ease is crimes against wisdom, which pull you away from your core purpose.


Negative Emotion: Deception, anxiety
Positive Emotion: Empathy, wonder


Negative Emotion: Lust
Positive Emotion: Compassion


Negative Emotion: Sloth, jealousy
Positive Emotion: Love, loyalty


Negative Emotion: Anger, pride
Positive Emotion: Generosity


Negative Emotion: Greed
Positive Emotion: Conviviality, enthusiasm

“I want someone to love me for me. I don’t want to try to be someone else.” Clients who are single often say this to me, bemoaning the fact that it is so hard to express their true selves and find someone who loves them for themselves. My follow-up question is this: “Okay, do you want someone to love you for the ice-cream-eating, haven’t-showered-in-two-days, couch-potato version of you, or the socially engaged and dynamic part of you?

“Wouldn’t you agree that the dynamic you is trying to be someone else—someone different from the couch-potato you? In reality, both of these are in us. Which one we express determines how the world sees us. So which part of you do you want your potential mate to meet first?”


“Many of us have forgotten how to be ourselves.”


The answer is obvious, but many of us have forgotten how to be ourselves. The best way to do this is to know your role in any interaction, and your dharma type is the compass that will help you find it. Let it show you your role and lead you to your true self. In any interaction, each dharma type has a purpose.

Life Path & Roles


An Educator should give people more wisdom and guidance than they had before. No matter what the situation, your role as an Educator is to create understanding. People open up to Educators, often without knowing why, because there is a harmlessness about you, a “safe space” you create that allows others to tell you anything. Be that compassionate, nonjudgmental, peacemaking Educator and see what happens the next time you talk to the guy at the bus stop or the lady across the counter. Even if you are secretly judgmental, that’s okay; suspend acting on that inclination for a moment. Educators are deeply passionate, but emotionalism should not rule your interactions. Think of Gandhi or your favorite teacher or priest: Educators are exemplars of truth, purity, and wisdom, and always leave you knowing more than before you met them. That’s your role, dear Educator, in everything you do. Kick the tires, take it for a spin, and see what happens.


Warriors are born to protect that which cannot protect itself. They are made to lead, and qualified to do so because they also know how to follow orders. As a Warrior, your role in any interaction is to offer solutions to problems and take control, if necessary, to get the job done. This should not be in an aggressive or boisterous way, because aggression is a sign of weakness. The best Warrior gets things done quietly, efficiently, with the fewest casualties and the most benefit for all involved. From protecting health by combating disease or teaching yoga to fighting for human rights, the smartest Warriors choose their battles. Don’t go chasing ­windmills just because you can. Pick the smart fight and finish one job before starting the next.


The Merchant’s job is to make people happy, using humor, food, entertainment, or anything that lifts the spirit and brings joy to the heart. Whether you give a compliment, a gift, or a free backrub is entirely up to you, but in your next interaction, see how you can bring shakti, positive energy, to others. You are the happiness broker to the world, dear Merchant, and there is no job as delightful and easy as yours, so get to it! You will find that your own happiness is linked to how much you give to others. This is the ironclad law of cause and effect that every evolved Merchant learns: you have to give to get.

Merchants’ happiness is linked to how much they give to others. This is the ironclad law of cause and effect that every evolved Merchant learns: you have to give to get.


The Laborer’s questions are “How can I help?” and “How can I be of service?” When you approach any interaction with this feeling in your heart, you cannot help but be useful, for Laborers are the most handy and useful of all the dharma types. As a Laborer you love to care for and nurture friends and family, and when you approach everyone as potential family you will grow your circle wider than ever. Think of Mother Teresa and Oprah Winfrey: the power that you have to build family and community reaches beyond borders and bloodlines. And when you have your family around you, you get the security and sense of belonging you need.


The Outsider’s dharma is to refresh the world by conveying a unique perspective. Outsiders are often anxious about sharing new or unusual information for fear of how they’ll be viewed. Don’t worry about that: in any interaction, ask what you can do to give people options they never considered before or bring a sense of awe and mystery to their lives. Outsiders combine different elements to forge innovative solutions to long-standing problems. Dear Outsider, discover and share your unique expression; you will benefit others and yourself.


The key to attracting your ideal mate lies in having a larger vision for your life. It doesn’t matter where you may be now. It doesn’t matter that you haven’t attained the prosperity, health, or professional success that you want. What matters is that you are engaged in pursuing your dharma. Once you understand the core tenets of your dharma type, you can maximize your potential and minimize your weak points by evolving.


“It doesn’t matter that you haven’t attained the prosperity, health, or professional success that you want. What matters is that you are engaged in pursuing your dharma.”


To do this, find which type you tend to evolve into (see below). Each of us has a complementary archetype that represents the qualities we need to incorporate to become the best we can be.

Evolution and Devolution 
of the Dharma Types*

Mutual Devolution: Warrior–Merchant
Mutual Evolution: Warrior–Educator

Mutual Devolution: Laborer–Educator
Mutual Evolution: Merchant–Laborer

Mutual Devolution: Outsider–All
Mutual Evolution: Outsider–All

*Though certain dharma types evolve into each other, they never become another type. Instead, by taking on qualities of their complementary type, they become the best they can be.

The Dance of Evolution and Devolution

Educators evolve when they take on qualities of the Warrior, like discipline and the ability to stick to a goal. Educators fail to “walk the walk” when they devolve by adopting the traits of the Laborer; they need the Warrior’s oomph to keep them honest. Warriors, on the other hand, benefit from the Educator’s patience and ability to see both sides of a story before making decisions.

Merchants evolve into Laborers and vice versa, because each one has what the other needs. Laborers are sometimes too closed off from the world and need the fun and variety of the Merchant type to bring them out of their shells. Merchants, for their part, learn stability from the Laborer.

When types devolve their worst qualities emerge and their talents are prevented from coming to the fore. This doesn’t mean that Educators cannot work in service professions or that Laborers shouldn’t teach. However, all factors being equal, these types are not as well-suited for these jobs. By taking someone’s place in the workforce when it goes contrary to your dharma type, you not only curb your own self-expression, you deprive others of the opportunity to do that job.

When Educators devolve into Laborers, they become stuck in a mode of thinking or attached to their knowledge in an egotistical way. When Laborers take on Educator values, they lose their own inherent strength and intuition. Educators think with their heads, Laborers with their guts. Switching these around creates confusion and leads you away from your dharma.

When Warriors devolve into the Merchant type, their strength turns to bravado, and instead of championing a noble cause they glorify themselves, fighting for the highest bidder. They become mercenaries to money, which often favors the strong, going against their dharma to protect the just and the defenseless. Merchants devolving into Warriors paint a similar picture of unnecessary force in the name of currency, not courage.

Warriors: To the Highest Bidder

Medicine is by and large a Warrior profession; it takes Warrior doctors to fight on behalf of patients against a common enemy—disease. In a Merchant society, however, doctors find it difficult to practice medicine the way they would like to. America is a Merchant nation, and it has a poor record of dealing with its Warriors—both those on the battlefield as well as those working in the trenches of its health care system. In contemporary America, hospitals have become more like sales centers for the corporations that own them than centers of healing. This is evidenced by the practices they follow: imposing patient quotas, including requiring doctors to see a certain number of patients per hour or per day; procedure quotas, meaning pushing doctors to order a certain number of tests and surgeries every day; and pharmaceutical quotas. Such practices may work for car dealerships but not for healing institutions, which is why the results have been catastrophic: medical mistakes in hospitals are the third leading cause of death in America, behind heart disease and cancer.*

*For more on this subject, see Unaccountable by Marty Mackary and When Doctors Don’t Listen by Leana Wen and Joshua Kosowsky.

Evolution occurs more readily when you interact with the dharma type you’re evolving into. If you’re a Warrior, you should keep company with an Educator and vice versa, because by being around these types some of their qualities rub off on you. Merchants need to work with Laborers to incorporate some of the Laborer’s energy into their own. You can never become another dharma type, but you learn much by absorbing the energy of the dharma type that promotes your evolution. This does not mean that you should avoid dharma types that encourage your devolution. However, being around them is less conducive to your personal growth because devolution pairs speak very different languages.


“Evolution occurs more readily when you interact with the dharma type you’re evolving into.”


Take special care to communicate exactly what you mean around types you devolve into because the potential for misunderstanding in these situations is high. Imagine that they are from another city, country, or even another planet, because, for some intents and purposes, they are! Slow, careful communication will ensure that your intentions are understood and will head off potential problems before they arise.

Examples of How Each Dharma Type 
Can Devolve and Evolve


“Simon, how did you learn all this stuff? Do you actually follow any of it?” asks Jane.

As an Educator, I know firsthand that one of the hardest things for my type is walking the walk, following through on the precepts we counsel others to embrace. But for Educators to grow into their dharma, they must actually live what they preach. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “It is possible to affirm the existence of God with your lips and deny his existence with your life.” This is true of many people today. A look at examples like Dr. King and Gandhi—the latter an Educator, the former an Outsider playing an Educator—reveals the power Educators harness when they live their purpose instead of just talking about it.

“To tell you the truth, for a long time it was just theory, and nothing happened in my life,” I reply to Jane. “That’s why it took so long for me to write my first book. When I started practicing every principle I counseled others to follow, my life opened up. That’s why I’m convinced it will work for you.”

Educators may read fitness articles but never actually do the work, claiming their job or family limits their time. This is devolution. Instead, snap up some of the Warrior’s gusto and get your butt to the gym to put all that knowledge into practice. For Educators to evolve they must take on Warrior traits. You need to move, walk, ride, and tone your body so your mind will be firm. Express your passion through movement and creativity; your work life and your love life will flow more smoothly.


A Merchant might look at the corporate ladder and try stepping on everyone to reach the top. This is devolution into the Warrior. Fighting is not the way to happiness for Merchants; building ­relationships is. Building friendships and cultivating people who owe you favors is a much smoother way to the top than making enemies. Just as with cause and effect, you gotta give to get. So get going giving!

For Merchants to evolve, they need to make something real in order to appreciate its value. The price of a house or a stock depends on the market. What was worth $100,000 yesterday may fetch only $50,000 today and its value may go even lower tomorrow in a market economy. Value is an idea, one often linked to emotion. But a brick is a brick, a turnip is a turnip. Once Merchants connect to the process of building a house or preparing a home-cooked meal, they begin to appreciate the value of shelter and good diet. Then it becomes harder to eat nothing but junk food (which Merchants like) or to simply dismiss someone’s foreclosure, because health and shelter are no longer abstract concepts; they are concrete realities.

Merchants do well to get in touch with the Earth element, and taking a cooking class, volunteering at a homeless shelter, or learning a trade are great ways for them to ground themselves in their Laborer point of evolution.


A Laborer trying to outsmart her date with tricks and trivia is going to crash and burn. Instead, try invoking your date’s senses through touch, taste, smell, and sight. This could mean anything from horseback riding (touch) to having wholesome, down-home food (smell and taste). Use these to get to know your date and, more important, to show him you are “real” and down-to-earth, for this creates genuine chemistry. Cooking, dancing, or even gardening together is a better way to communicate with your partner than trying to figure out what he’s thinking. Communication via body language is much stronger than communication through words. Which do you want to use to say what you really want?


“Communication via body language is much stronger than communication through words.”


For Laborers, lightening up and enjoying themselves is a first step to evolution. Taking a salsa class, traveling, singing, and playing, especially in a communal spirit, uplifts the Laborer type. By evolving into Merchants, Laborers also find their own true worth. When you do not value yourself others won’t either, and that’s why Laborers often work at jobs with little recognition or compensation. By evolving into the Merchant, you learn to stand up for your skills and get your due in society. Other Merchant values involve learning the money game and how economics works, from compound interest to real estate. Taking a financial literacy class, for example, is a great way to get a grasp on money matters and manage your finances.


In today’s Merchant society money is power, and Warriors are drawn to it as a source of strength and security. But when Warriors cultivate money and power for self-serving reasons or at the cost of their higher purpose, their spirit wilts. Such Warriors die early of heart attacks or fall into vices like gambling or drinking. Being successful is fine, as long as you also fight malaria in Africa or devote time to eradicating illiteracy in the inner city. Whatever your cause, Warrior, if you want to feel truly alive, find your passion and put your considerable skills behind it! Learning anything boosts your edge. You probably did not like school when you were young; there was much more interesting stuff going on outside the classroom. But later in life Warriors begin to appreciate knowledge, as maturity brings the insight that knowledge is power. Read a book; get tutoring or counseling. Go to an astrologer or palmist or try psychotherapy. Any kind of one-on-one mentorship is supremely useful for Warrior types. Constantly improve yourself, and remember that knowledge whets the sword of good judgment.


You may have noticed that so far we have not discussed the Outsider’s points of evolution and devolution. That is because Outsiders take on traits of other types, along with their evolution and devolution points.

Outsiders need to learn meditation or prayer to discover their unique worldview and calm their anxious minds. Outsiders run on residual anxiety and do well to find mystical ways to deal with material problems. Also, since deception comes easily to you as an Outsider, you have to hold yourself accountable. Have people call you on it when you’re exaggerating or outright lying and find ways to practice taking responsibility for your actions. Taking responsibility for everything in your life is the best practice for an Outsider. Be accountable for the good and the bad, even the things you have no control over, like how you were raised and the traumas of your early childhood. This is the real sense of “turning the other cheek”—recognizing and taking responsibility for your karma—a core teaching of Christianity, though one not popularly practiced even by Christians. Taking responsibility for your karma makes you powerful and able to respond. Running away from karma results in powerlessness, and only delays your evolution. In the words of Jesus, who was himself an Outsider and knew this well,

“Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.” (Matthew 5:26).*

*For more of Jesus’s specific teachings for Outsiders, see The Five Dharma Types.

Devolution Exercise for All Types

Think about the areas in your life where you have devolved in the past. Have you encountered problems with money? Relationships? Exercise? Food?

Write down several examples in as much detail as you can. Now consider how you can shift from devolution to evolution in those areas. Read about and promote your best traits!

Understand Your Weaknesses

Educators are lusty and can become trapped by their desires. They have to remember to be pillars of truth and wisdom for others and not succumb to second-class behavior.

Merchants are insecure and feel empty. Their antidote is giving energy, resources, or comfort to others.

Warriors don’t know enough and make bad decisions. They need to educate themselves through schooling or, better yet, through one-on-one mentorship, to equip themselves to be the best Warriors possible. Otherwise they slip into cynicism and anger at the world and themselves.

Laborers get stuck in their ways. They may also feel overwhelmed or inferior in situations that call for them to interact with too many people. Their antidote is to cultivate an attitude of service and love. This burns through any possible obstacle they may face in life.

Outsiders are anxious and self-deceptive. They lie to themselves and others. They need to take responsibility for everything in their lives, even if it wasn’t “their fault.”

Attributes of Each Type


Both gross and fine motor skills; usually a combination of the two that allows for the achievement of a goal (i.e., a soccer player).

Generous and self-sacrificing. Can achieve anything in the name of a good cause.

Pessimistic, cynical, materialistic. Do not believe in saving grace, and become prone to a dog-eat-dog mentality.


Fine motor skills. Less goal-oriented, more focused on refinement (i.e., a violinist).

Inspirational and charitable. Entertaining and funny. Can motivate people.

Insecurity. Need constant validation from others to believe in her or his own worthiness.


Mental skills. Possess less motor skills than other types; often clumsy or uncoordinated.

High minded, pure, and noble. Sources of wisdom and purpose to others.

Wishy-washy, feckless, no backbone. Schism between ideals and reality, especially as pertains to base emotions like lust.


Gross motor skills, usually applied for self-sustenance, as in a trade or hobby.

Loyal and devoted. Hardworking and unaffected. The backbone of functional society.

Intense jealousy. Attachment to people, things, or ideas to the point of irrationality.


Can mimic any of the types. Usually have affinity with Laborer types.

Born to free other beings. Instigate revolution, progress, and positive change.

Blame, self-deceit. Refuse to accept responsibility for their own actions; blame the world for their problems. Cannot see their own faults and shortcomings.

Eating Based on Your Type

While the Three Square Meals plan tells you when to eat, it doesn’t tell you what to eat. Here are some suggestions, based on your dharma type:


Cultivating ahimsa (nonviolence) and the welfare of humanity as their prime aim, Educators typically require diets with less meat and more fruits, nuts, and dairy. Educators, who have delicate constitutions and need easy-to-digest foods, often find it best to supplement with herbs and vitamins to feel balanced. They may have what appear to others as finicky tastes, require the most attention to their diets, and have the greatest dietary limitations.


Warriors require more protein and fewer carbohydrates to feel their best. In medieval times in Europe, venison (meat) was typically reserved for the ruling class and their armies, with peasants kept on a high-carbohydrate, low-protein diet (the Robin Hood story has its basis in this prohibition on hunting). They are ideal candidates for Paleo-style diets, though they can do just as well as vegetarians, as long as they keep their proteins and vegetables high and sugars and grains relatively low.


Laborers typically do well on higher-carbohydrate (grain) and medium- to low-protein diets. They can subsist just fine on vegetarian cuisine: rice, corn, beans, wheat, quinoa, lentils, and vegetables. A little meat can be a treat for a non-vegetarian Laborer, and in ancient times meat was consumed sparingly. The modern overabundance of flesh foods has blighted our health because most dharma types—except perhaps the Warrior—cannot handle meat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This is one of the reasons for the epidemic of obesity and heart disease in the Western world.


Merchants appreciate luxury. Sumptuous chocolate, rich foods (including lots of ghee), and even fine wine are okay for easygoing Merchant types. Since their dharma is to bring laughter and joy to the world, they are allowed to enjoy their delicacies, with one catch: they must do it in moderation. Moderation, however, can be tricky for the fun-loving and sometimes moody Merchant type.


Outsiders like to go outside the box in search of new and cool trends. From Mongolian barbecue to strict vegan fare, from Spam to seitan, they sample everything and usually settle on their own unique blend of foods. When imbalanced, however, they are most likely to turn to “dead” and packaged foods, such as frozen dinners, canned food, chips, hot dogs, and the like. Because Outsiders deal in extremes, they straddle both sides of the spectrum, from the purest to the most putrid. Like the Buddha, their path is to strike a balance that reflects their eclectic nature.

This article on the five dharma types is excerpted from Sex, Love, and Dharma by Simon Chokoisky © 2015 Destiny Books. Printed with permission from the publisher Inner Traditions International.

About The Author

Simon Chokoisky Simon Chokoisky teaches Sanskrit and Medical Astrology at the Ayurvedic Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He also runs a private consulting business based on his trainings in Vedic life mapping and Vedic astrology. The author of The Five Dharma Types and creator of the Decoding Your Life Map with Vedic Astrology DVD series, he travels widely giving seminars. He currently lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Learn more at

Sign Up For Your Free
Enlightened Living Guide
Enter your email address below for instant access
We respect your privacy. We will never sell or share your information.
Sign Up For Your Free
Enlightened Living Guide
Enter your email address below for instant access
We respect your privacy. We will never sell or share your information.