Wednesday, May 21, 2014

What is the "Dharma"?

Ven. Nyanatiloka (A Buddhist Dictionary: Manual of Buddhist Terms and Doctrines), Dhr. Seven and Ashley Wells, (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly
Where does wisdom come from? It derives from studying Dharma (teachings, phenomena)
Yoga, meditation, relaxation, chanting banners draped on Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's beautiful Dharma center next to the Univ. of So. California (USC) the night of the "Yoga Rave" (WQ)
Buddhist Dictionary (palikanon)
[NOTE: The Sanskrit word dharma is multivalent with at least 12 distinct meanings, as is fairly common with many Indian terms. When capitalized it refers to the Buddha's Teachings, but all its meanings are related. This capitalization is only an English convention used to distinguish the Teachings from phenomena in general, other spiritual teachings, and one's duties and obligations, etc.]
The Dharma (Pali Dhamma) literally means the "bearer," (what upholds, supports), constitution (the nature of a thing), norm, law (jus), doctrine; justice, righteousness; quality; things, objects of mind (see spheres or bases, āyatana) "phenomena."

The word dhamma is met with in the texts in all of these meanings. The Commentary to the Long Discourses (Digha Nikaya) gives four applications of the term:
  1. quality (guna),
  2. instruction (desanā),
  3. text (pariyatti),
  4. selfless, void, empty (nijjīvatā), for example, "All dhammā, phenomena, are impersonal..."
Buddha, cat, books (Dee McIntosh/flickr)
The Commentary to the Dhammasangani has hetu (condition) instead of desanā (instruction).

Therefore, the "analytical knowledge" of the law or lawfulness of phenomena (see patisambhidā) is explained in the Path of Purification (Vis.M. XIV) and in the The Book of Analysis (Vibhanga) as hetumhi-ñāna) "knowledge of the conditions."
The Dharma, as the liberating truth discovered and proclaimed by the Buddha, is summed up in the Four Noble Truths (see sacca).
It forms one of the Three Gems (Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, ti-ratana) and one of the Ten Recollections (anussati), which are subjects for frequent recollection or mindfulness as contemplation.
A dharma (dhamma) as object of mind (dhammāyatana, see āyatana) may be anything past, present or future, physical or mental, conditioned or unconditioned (cf. sankhāra, 4), real or imaginary. See wider Wiki discussion: Dharma.

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