What exactly is Dharma?

General discussion, particularly exploring the Dharma in the modern world.
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Wesley1982
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What exactly is Dharma?

Post by Wesley1982 » Tue Apr 24, 2012 10:10 pm

What exactly is Dharma? . .

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Paul
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Re: What exactly is Dharma?

Post by Paul » Tue Apr 24, 2012 10:14 pm

The word "dharma" actually has ten meanings. So it's a bit confusing. It usually used to refer to the Buddha's teachings.

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Josef
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Re: What exactly is Dharma?

Post by Josef » Tue Apr 24, 2012 10:14 pm

‎"What we really need is knowledge, an understanding of the essence of Dharma, of the teaching of Buddha. Dharma indicates the dimension of everything that exists, and the teaching of the Buddha is called dharma because it is a key to discovering the nature of all phenomena through an understanding of our true condition. This is really the principle point, and when we discover our true nature it is like discovering everything."—Chogyal Namkhai Norbu
Kye ma!
The river of continuity is marked by impermanence.
Ceaseless flowing of appearance.
Beautiful and repulsive.
The dance of life and death is a display of the vast expanse.
With gratitude the watcher and the watched pass through the barrier of duality.

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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: What exactly is Dharma?

Post by PadmaVonSamba » Tue Apr 24, 2012 10:21 pm

Wesley1982 wrote:What exactly is Dharma? . .
One of those great words that refers to a lot of concepts which do not always translate easily.

"dharma" essentially means "law" or "truth" as you might think of the term in the law of gravity but it is a broad term and can be loosely applied.
It suggests a meaning of the true way that things are, or are established. It can also refer to a particular underlying teaching. For example, you could say "Jesus taught the dharma of forgiveness". In Buddhist usage, The Dharma refers specifically to the teachings by the Buddha, his teachings of the true nature of things, the various sutras and so forth.
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Huifeng
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Re: What exactly is Dharma?

Post by Huifeng » Wed Apr 25, 2012 2:17 am

Wesley1982 wrote:What exactly is Dharma? . .
The term has a very broad semantic range. The specific meaning can be narrowed down by the use of singular or plural, masculine or neuter (though note: the use of a capital "D" for "Dharma" is only English usage, Indic languages having no such thing).

Some of the basic meanings include:

dharma = truth;
dharma = laws of the universe;
dharma = righteous behavior (in correspondence to truth);
dharma = prescribed religious actions;
dharma = religious teachings (corresponding to the above);


dharmas = religious practices;
dharmas = mental states (objects of mind as mental organ);
dharmas = fundamental elements of existence;
dharmas = universal elements;
dharmas = qualities (or someone or something);

etc.

Knowing which meaning is the right one in a given context takes a fair amount of expertise in Buddhist thought and language. Interpret with care! Blunders can be a problem.

~~ Huifeng

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Bonsai Doug
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Re: What exactly is Dharma?

Post by Bonsai Doug » Wed Apr 25, 2012 3:36 am

"Dharma is the immanent, invariable order of the universe.
A source of guidance in the proper conduct of life. Objective,
impersonal, ever-existent principle of order."
~ Bhikkhu Bodhi
Now having obtained a precious human body,
I do not have the luxury of remaining on a distracted path.

~ Tibetan Book of the Dead

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Wesley1982
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Re: What exactly is Dharma?

Post by Wesley1982 » Wed Apr 25, 2012 3:39 am

Paul wrote:It usually used to refer to the Buddha's teachings.
By this we mean Siddhatha Gotama ~ Shakyamuni Buddha correct? . .

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Re: What exactly is Dharma?

Post by Josef » Wed Apr 25, 2012 4:09 am

Wesley1982 wrote:
Paul wrote:It usually used to refer to the Buddha's teachings.
By this we mean Siddhatha Gotama ~ Shakyamuni Buddha correct? . .
Or any other Buddha.
Kye ma!
The river of continuity is marked by impermanence.
Ceaseless flowing of appearance.
Beautiful and repulsive.
The dance of life and death is a display of the vast expanse.
With gratitude the watcher and the watched pass through the barrier of duality.

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Wesley1982
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Re: What exactly is Dharma?

Post by Wesley1982 » Mon Apr 30, 2012 11:58 pm

Somewhere I read the three crown jewels were Buddha/Dharma/Sangha .

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Re: What exactly is Dharma?

Post by Josef » Tue May 01, 2012 12:09 am

Wesley1982 wrote:Somewhere I read the three crown jewels were Buddha/Dharma/Sangha .
Thats true.
Any Buddha, the Dharma taught by that Buddha, and the practitioners of that Buddha's Dharma.
Kye ma!
The river of continuity is marked by impermanence.
Ceaseless flowing of appearance.
Beautiful and repulsive.
The dance of life and death is a display of the vast expanse.
With gratitude the watcher and the watched pass through the barrier of duality.

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Seishin
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Re: What exactly is Dharma?

Post by Seishin » Tue May 01, 2012 11:14 am

Wesley1982 wrote:Somewhere I read the three crown jewels were Buddha/Dharma/Sangha .
The crown jewels belong to the queen of England. The three jewels are Buddha/Dharma/Sangha. But close enough :twothumbsup:

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Wesley1982
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Re: What exactly is Dharma?

Post by Wesley1982 » Thu May 03, 2012 1:51 am

Huifeng wrote:
Some of the basic meanings include:

dharma = truth;
dharma = laws of the universe;
dharma = righteous behavior (in correspondence to truth);
dharma = prescribed religious actions;
dharma = religious teachings (corresponding to the above);


dharmas = religious practices;
dharmas = mental states (objects of mind as mental organ);
dharmas = fundamental elements of existence;
dharmas = universal elements;
dharmas = qualities (or someone or something);
I didn't know this about dharma or dharmas or how they become teachings of the Buddha.

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sangyey
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Re: What exactly is Dharma?

Post by sangyey » Thu May 03, 2012 2:10 am

Dharma is the reality or natural law of cause and effect/interdependent nature upon which the Buddha's teachings is based upon. Don't like suffering...get rid of the causes.....like happiness.....create those causes. Only a Buddha's mind can see this and lead others with that wisdom. The real refuge is the Dharma because with the teachings it is up to you. It's your own causality.

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Re: What exactly is Dharma?

Post by plwk » Thu May 03, 2012 8:13 am

Somewhere I read the three crown jewels were Buddha/Dharma/Sangha .
The crown jewels belong to the queen of England. The three jewels are Buddha/Dharma/Sangha. But close enough :twothumbsup:
The Kōh-i Nūr diamond in the Queen's Crown, on display at the Tower of London belongs to India... :thinking:
And wesley, depends which school of Buddhism you ask on what is d(D)harma and that too, the individual teachers, so don't be surprise if ya get 101 answers...

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Re: What exactly is Dharma?

Post by White Lotus » Thu May 03, 2012 3:18 pm

dharma nature, or buddha nature. seeing this one has in the eyes of therevada and many mahayana arrived at the ultimate. this is also key to Dzogchen... seeing nature. seeing dharma nature.
: what is within you and what is around you are seen as the same, or one. emptiness. mind. this is a spiritual seeing. seeing dharma nature is seeing reality as it is; at least to a very high level.

the christian mystic meister eckhart said that God is ''existence'', Bonaventura said that God is ''being'', in the Philokalia, Maximos Confessor says that God is beyond beyond being as well as being being. Zen master suzuki has said that seeing nature one sees the ground of being... God. Suzuki says that when you see nature you are with God even before creation, even before the word is uttered.

there are similarities between buddhism and christian mysticism. Suzuki has a book called buddhist and christian mysticism. this subject interested him very much and he writes widely on Christian mysticism in his works.

to my mind zen is similar to mysticism in that it leads to oneness with all things. the All in All. this from a christian perspective is like saying that God is all things and yet beyond all things, not pantheism.

to see dharma nature is to see the truth. to be beyond beyond being. with God, as god? theosis, divinisation realised through buddhist experience. the highest goal of christianity is i propose attained through the buddhist path.

hope this is helpful.

best wishes, Tom.
in any matters of importance. dont rely on me. i may not know what i am talking about. take what i say as mere speculation. i am not ordained. nor do i have a formal training. i do believe though that if i am wrong on any point. there are those on this site who i hope will quickly point out my mistakes.

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Wesley1982
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Re: What exactly is Dharma?

Post by Wesley1982 » Fri May 04, 2012 10:33 pm

In a specific book, the Buddha would always refer to the Tathagata ~ what exactly is the Tathagata? not sure.

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conebeckham
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Re: What exactly is Dharma?

Post by conebeckham » Fri May 04, 2012 10:42 pm

Tathagata is a synonym for Buddha.

Translated into English, it means something like "one who has thus gone" or "one who has thus come." Buddha usually refers to himself by this name.

We understand it to mean one who has gone beyond suffering of Samsara, or one who has come to the Ultimate Result.
དམ་པའི་དོན་ནི་ཤེས་རབ་ཆེ་བ་དང་།
རྟོག་གེའི་ཡུལ་མིན་བླ་མའི་བྱིན་རླབས་དང་།
སྐལ་ལྡན་ལས་འཕྲོ་ཅན་གྱིས་རྟོགས་པ་སྟེ།
དེ་ནི་ཤེས་རབ་ལ་ནི་ལོ་རྟོག་སེལ།།


"Absolute Truth is not an object of analytical discourse or great discriminating wisdom,
It is realized through the blessing grace of the Guru and fortunate Karmic potential.
Like this, mistaken ideas of discriminating wisdom are clarified."
- (Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche, from his summary of "The Ocean of Definitive Meaning")

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Huifeng
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Re: What exactly is Dharma?

Post by Huifeng » Sat May 05, 2012 3:13 am

conebeckham wrote:Tathagata is a synonym for Buddha.

Translated into English, it means something like "one who has thus gone" or "one who has thus come." Buddha usually refers to himself by this name.

We understand it to mean one who has gone beyond suffering of Samsara, or one who has come to the Ultimate Result.
There are more meanings to the term "tathaagata" than just "buddha".
For example, in the various "unanswered" (note: not "unanswerable") questions,
such as "Does the tathaagata go after death?", the term is understood
in many cases as being a synonym for an atman.

Like almost all terms, there is no simple X is Y type definition or answer.
Context context context context context context...

It is much more helpful to ask something like: In the statement
"blah blah blah" in the so-and-so text of such-and-such school, etc.
what does the term "X" mean.

~~ Huifeng

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Wesley1982
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Re: What exactly is Dharma?

Post by Wesley1982 » Sat May 05, 2012 7:18 pm

In his asceticism, wasn't the Buddha always "pressing ahead" and "moving forward?" . .

White Lotus
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Re: What exactly is Dharma?

Post by White Lotus » Sun May 06, 2012 2:55 pm

tathagata is dharma, the tathagata is thus (dharma), he comes thus (dharma) and goes thus (dharma). the living dharma embodified.

the soto school of zen harks back to Dogen Zenji its founder; this harking back shows respect to the fact that dogen had studied Indian mysticism as well as read the entire buddhist canon... his descendant, Zen patriarch of soto : master Keizan is happy calling dharma nature the ''true self''. tathagata could be taken as meaning ''true self''.

it seems that even when ego is extinguished there is still a personal awareness. in vedanta there is a deliberate slaying of the ego self before attainement of the Brahman Atman takes place. the Brahman within is seen as a void/emptiness, in Hinduism. there are crossovers and similarities between the two paths.

naturally among many buddhists there is aversion to speaking of the Dharma nature as being self, or a self of any kind... but i say that 'this' identity remains even after extinction of the ego I. this identity remains even when there is no longer recognition of ''mine'' or ''i''. this identity is one.

to clarify... the dharma nature need not be seen as ''a'' self of any kind, but it could be seen as self ''nature''.
to become a tathagata is to realise ''their own self nature'' (lankavatara sutra). the individual has ceased, there is now only one. some have called this one the ''true self'' or dharma nature. hence the influence of hindu language in soto zen?

best wishes, Tom.
in any matters of importance. dont rely on me. i may not know what i am talking about. take what i say as mere speculation. i am not ordained. nor do i have a formal training. i do believe though that if i am wrong on any point. there are those on this site who i hope will quickly point out my mistakes.

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