What The Dharma?

Dharma, depending on your school of thought or religious lineage, can mean different things. In yoga, your dharma is what is right for you, it is the expression of your true self, so when you live your dharma things flow and you feel right in your own skin. The Hindu connotation is that your dharma is the right way to live. It’s personal, in as much as only you are able to determine what your dharma is and, like a fingerprint, it is different for everyone. If an individual is following their dharma, they are pursuing their truest calling, serving all other beings in the universe by playing their true role.

The implication of dharma is that there is a right way for each person to carry out their life. Dharma is closely related to the concepts of duty and service to others, or sev. It has no single-word Western translation, which sometimes makes it a difficult concept for Western practitioners to grasp. One close translation, however, is “right way of living.” The word dharma comes from the ancient religions of India and is found in Hindu and Jain teachings, as well as Buddhist. Its original meaning can be translated loosely as natural law. Its root word, dham, means ‘to uphold’. In this broad sense common to many religious traditions, Dharma is that which upholds the natural order of the universe.

Dharma is a word also closely associated with Buddhism where it refers to the second gem of the Three Jewels of Buddhism - Buddha, dharma, sangha. Dharma here are the teachings of Buddha, with the teachings, and the actions that come from them  guide for living in Dharma. Like most philosophical things of a spiritual nature, there are myriad interpretations and meanings, and all very aligned to where you are in your journey. Understanding and living your dharma is a personal journey. You know it when you are in your flow, when you feel that your mind, actions and body are in alignment, and you are existing at one with all around you. Pretty sweet huh? I think of it as that sense of being completely, freely, who you are. What's your dharma?

Polly McGee