I thought I understood the term “dharma” until I researched a bit and discovered that my assumed meaning was only one of many—depending on the religion that espoused it.
After hearing someone’s online spiritual discussion of dharma and how that person interpreted it, I took his meaning as “dharma refers to living your sense of life-purpose and fulfilling your personal duty to your own soul’s evolvement as well as to the evolvement of the collective consciousness.”
In a sense, that’s still fairly true, but depending on whether the interpreter is Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, or Sikh, the word bears greater variance and meaning, and for those variances I’ll include a few quotes from Wikipedia which is hardly the last word in total accuracy, but for this posting it is close enough.
- “In Hinduism, dharma signifies behaviors that are considered to be in accord with rta, the order that makes life and universe possible,[note 1] and includes duties, rights, laws, conduct, virtues and ‘‘right way of living’’.
- In Buddhism dharma means “cosmic law and order”, but is also applied to the teachings of the Buddha. In Buddhist philosophy, dhamma/dharma is also the term for “phenomena“.[note 2]
- In Jainism dharma refers to the teachings of the Jinas and the body of doctrine pertaining to the purification and moral transformation of human beings.
- For Sikhs, the word dharm means the “path of righteousness”.
In common parlance, dharma means ‘right way of living’ and ‘path of righteousness’.
Dharma, according to Van Buitenen, is that which all existing beings must accept and respect to sustain harmony and order in the world. …
In Hinduism, it is the dharma of the bee to make honey, of cow to give milk, of sun to radiate sunshine, of river to flow.
So in essence, as I now understand the term, when I contemplate MY dharma, I am considering my sense of purpose for personal existence as well as my service to the whole of humanity, …which makes me then ponder this:
- What do we really owe each other?
- How responsible are each of us to the greater good and to the betterment of our human condition?
- What roles do we play in the drama unfolding all around us? Are we active participants or passive observers?
- Do we make change happen for the betterment of all, or do we sit back and let others determine our fates for us?
- What is our collective dharma at this pivotal moment in humanity’s evolvement?
- Are we all here in this life together to help each other, or are we only here individually to advance ourselves by whatever means that we can?
As usual, I have more questions than answers.
So what do YOU think? …What is YOUR dharma?