What is Dharma?
To get the best from life,
love life and treat
it with love.
Via Vogue and lemonade
A mystery to those not knowing the essence of life.
Dharma is living in accord with life while sustaining what is known and fruitful for all life.
In other words, to know Dharma in its fullness you must know life in its fullness and that is something few people achieve in their lifetimes. Therefore to know Dharma as a layperson without access to the accumulated knowledge of Vedanta requires a relaxation of beliefs and an openness to explore.
To put it simply, Dharma is a way of being in the world that sustains and celebrates life. It is about being happy for the sake of happiness and no ulterior motive. As small children are happy not because of any external circumstance other than being clean and having a full belly, they sing, laugh and play from a joy that comes from within because of this stage of their lives they are in accord with her own personal Dharma.
Yet the modern world is often more intent on dominating and controlling life which as we can see is rather destructive in terms of environmental damage, war and social injustice. This is a Adharma, the opposite of Dharma.
Dharma has nothing to do with belief and ancient India is home to the concept of Dharma. The legend says that some 15,000 years ago a great Yogi realised the full immensity of being human and he taught the seven Suptarishi's who then travelled the world teaching the population that in order to find injury happiness, one had to appreciate the nature of one's being and the very nature of life.
Through those teachings the people of India developed a lifestyle harmonious with nature that gave the greater population access to the knowledge, tools and freedom to seek the truth of existence in their own hearts and minds. Over the generations this gave rise to improved living conditions, agriculture, health care and the sharing of knowledge. India was home to the world's first universities and although it never had a central government, the people themselves became self-governing in accord with what they perceived as Dharma.
In Dharma there is a recognition that life supports life therefore all one's activities must be in accord with life because to destroy life as were doing in the modern world is to also destroy ourselves because ultimately there is no separation.
Actions of free will supporting Dharma:
And actions impelling social accord
● Saucha – Purity (both external and internal)
● Santosha – Contentment
● Tapas – Self-Discipline
● Svadhyaya – Self-Study
● Ishvara Pranidhana - Surrender
● Ahimsa – Nonviolence
● Satya – Truthfulness
● Asteya – Nonstealing
● Brahmacharya – Nonexcess
● Aparigraha – Nonpossessiveness
Dharma or Adharma