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Dharma

The art and science of living while supporting life

Published on: 23 Jun 2016 updated June 8 2018

Dharma is described as a noun meaning to live by the eternal law of the cosmos that is inherent in the very nature of things. For many people, this may be too much of a stretch of the imagination, but it can be redefined as living in accord or in harmony with nature.

The idea of Dharma arises from Yoga and Hinduism because the ancient yogis were able to identify and relate with nature. Unfortunately this is beyond any people's ability today because we live in such a consumer driven world where personal identity and happiness is dependent on external phenomena.

But the idea of Dharma and the idea of living in accord with nature is not something that is passed or redundant, it is the only way to know life and to become happy.

One might ask, what is life or what is nature? This is good question but unfortunately there is no one answer because life is deeply mysterious, it is very complex and indescribable and yet because we are part of life we can come to know life through realisation.

Our scientists have been deeply involved in these questions because if they know life, they will be able to modify it and some corporation will make a profit. It is probably a good thing that life cannot be defined and confined because if it were, we may have already destroyed ourselves.

Our science has gone down to the subatomic level and in its exploration, it has discovered that what we call life or at least the material aspect of life that we are familiar with actually flickers in and out of existence continuously. In other words they have proved that the nature of existence is an illusion and this is something that yogis and mystics have been saying for many thousands of years.

It is those ancient yogis who meditated and in a sense became one with the nature of existence who understood through their direct experience that if we live in harmony with life, life will provide all our needs. Even in the Christian Bible, there are references to living in harmony with nature, but the primary sense of Dharma as a way of harmonious life comes from Hinduism from which Buddhism emerged.

Sanatana Dharma:

“Sana” is Sanskrit for “ancient” “old” “long lasting” this produces “sanat” meaning “forever” “always” and sanatana meaning “eternal” “ancient” “forever”.

The Vedas speak of the four mind born sons of lord Brahma, the four Kumaras who refused to become universal progenitors and instead remained as children, refusing to reach puberty. Their names are Sanat meaning “forever young” Sanatana meaning “eternal” Sanandana meaning “forever joyful” and Sanaka meaning “ancient” all expressing this “sana” meaning “ancient” and “old”. ~ James Robinson Cooper

A dharmic life

This has nothing to do with materialism and modern economics, it has nothing to do with our modern fast paced lifestyle, in fact it is contrary. It doesn't mean that we don't have stuff that we call our own, that doesn't mean we don't have to do any work, it simply means that we live our lives in a way that is harmonious with our fellow man and all the other species with whom we share this planet.

Within Hinduism and Buddhism, we see many good examples of Dharma living. The personal qualities of kindness and compassion take precedence over personal wants and desires, and desires are shaped to support harmonious living.

It is thought that if everyone adopted a dharmic lifestyle which simply amounts to having respect for life, the levels of crime, social inequity and violence would decrease by about 70% stop therefore instead of the majority of people living in a continuous state of fear and apprehension, lives would become much more joyful.

A traveller took shelter with an old yogi. He was astonished to see that the Yogi's home was a simple room. The only furniture was a mat and a simple fireplace.
Traveller : "Yogi, where's your furniture?"
Yogi : "Where is yours?"
Traveller : "Mine? But I'm only a visitor here."
Yogi : "So am I

It is perhaps our mothers who best know what is Dharma. They are the ones who instinctively nurture their offspring to such an extent that exhaust themselves with the effort. It is our mothers who do the utmost to support life and on a deeper level it is the earth that gives us all life. Therefore adopting a lifestyle that is Dharmic requires that we get in touch with nature, and follow the lead of our mother's by nurturing all of life.

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