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Dharma / dharma

In Buddhism, Dharma no longer has its Hindu meaning of religious duty according to one's class. Instead it has several levels of meaning including: the teachings of the Buddha, which can be understood as:

1. "Dharma with a capital D": methods (Five Schools of teachings and practices) for becoming enlightened;

2. "Dharmakaya / Tathagata Garbha / Dharma Dhatu": The reality that one realizes at enlightenment; and

3. "All Phenomena": The various divisions of the mental and physical world that are part of the teaching.

I. "Dharma with a capital D": methods (Five Schools of teachings and practices) for becoming enlightened;

"He turns the inconceivable, wondrous Dharma Wheel,

And makes known the conduct of the path (marga) to Bodhi,

Which destroys the suffering of all living beings forever."

(Flower Adornment Sutra - Avatamsaka Sutra)

Dharma refers to all the methods of cultivation taught by the Buddha which lead to ultimate enlightenment (anuttarasamyaksambodhi). They are means to an end, not an end in themselves. In other words, any aspect or division of the teaching. Dharma in this sense is an expedient distinction made for the sake of greater understanding. For example, the Five Skandhas, the Six Paramitas, and the Eighteen Realms are all dharmas.

Monks, as a man going along a highway might see a great stretch of water, the hither bank dangerous and frightening, the further bank secure, not frightening, but if there were not a boat for crossing by or a bridge across for going from the not-beyond to the beyond, this might occur to him: `This is a great stretch of water, the hither bank dangerous and frightening, the further bank secure and not frightening, but there is not a boat for crossing by or a bridge across for going from the not-beyond to the beyond. Suppose that I, having collected grass, sticks, branches and foliage, and having tied a raft, depending on that raft, and striving with hands and feet, should cross over safely to the beyond?' Then, monks, that man, having collected grass, sticks, branches and foliage, having tied a raft, depending on that raft and striving with his hands and feet, might cross over safely to the beyond. To him, crossed over, gone beyond, this might occur: 'Now this raft has been very useful to me. I, depending on this raft, and striving with my hands and feet, crossed over safely to the beyond. Suppose now that I, having put this raft on my head, or having lifted it on to my shoulder, should proceed as I desire?' What do you think about this, monks? If that man does this, is he doing what should be done with that raft?"

"No, Lord."

"What should that man do, monks, in order to do what should be done with that raft? In this case, monks, it might occur to that man who has crossed over, gone beyond: 'Now, this raft has been very useful to me. Depending on this raft and striving with my hands and feet, I have crossed over safely to the beyond. Suppose now that I, having beached this raft on dry ground or having submerged it under the water, should proceed as I desire?' In doing this, monks, that man would be doing what should be done with that raft. Even so, monks, is the Parable of the Raft taught by me for crossing over, not for retaining. You, monks, by understanding the Parable of the Raft, should get rid even of (right) mental objects, all the more of wrong ones." ("Alagaddupamasutta," I 134-135, , I 173-174)

. . . The Dharma which I speak is like a raft. Even Dharmas should be relinquished, how much the more that which is not Dharma. (Vajra Sutra or Vajracchedika Prajna Paramita Sutra 49)

The raft of Dharma gives us something to hang onto as we eliminate our attachments, which cause us to suffer and to be stuck on this shore of birth and death. The raft of Dharma refers to the methods of inward illumination; it takes us across the sea of our birth and death and the sea of afflictions to the other shore, Nirvana. Once there "even Dharmas should be relinquished."

"The Dharma is spoken to break people's attachments. If people had no attachments, they wouldn't need the Dharma. But people have attachments because their consciousnesses (vijnana skandha) take over, and so they give rise to distinctions and attachments. If you let your wisdom (Maha Prajna Paramita) be in charge, you will have no attachments. . . ." (Vajra Bodhi Sea Issue #179 3rd door)

"There are no fixed, static dharmas. Because it is not fixed, the Dharma is alive. Dharma which is alive is separate from all attachments. It is said, 'One bestows the teaching for the sake of the individual and prescribes the medicine according to the illness.' In the same way the Dharma is spoken as an antidote to an individual's specific problems." (Dharma Flower Sutra Lotus Sutra I 7-8)

II. "Dharmakaya / Tathagata Garbha / Dharma Dhatu": The reality that one realizes (realization) at enlightenment; and

In this sense Dharma refers to the reality which is realized through the application of Dharma as teaching. It is the world of total enlightenment. See Dharma realm, Dharmakaya, Tathagata Garbha, Dharma Dhatu.

III. "All Phenomena": The various divisions of the mental and physical world that are part of the teaching.

1) Chinese Mandarin: Fa, 2) Sanskrit: Dharma , 3) Pali: Dhamma.

4) Alternate Translations: method, law, factor (of existence), characteristic, quality, idea, category, state of existence, condition of being, truth, true ideal, the Teaching.

See also: Two Truths, Dharma door, Dharma realm. Dharma Master, Dharma Protector, Tripitaka (1. Sutras, 2. Vinaya, 3. Shastras or Abhidharma, or Tantra), Taisho Catalog Numbering System, Dharma, and names of individual sutras (such as Shurangama Sutra, Avatamsaka Sutra [[Flower Adornment Sutra], Lotus Sutra Wonderful Dharma Flower Sutra, Earth Store Sutra, Dharani Sutra, Brahma Net Sutra, Medicine Master Buddha Sutra, Prajna Paramita Heart Sutra, Vajracchedika Prajna Paramita Sutra Diamond Sutra, Sixth Patriarch Platform Sutra (Hui Neng), Sutra in 42 Sections, Sutra on the Buddha's Bequeathed Teaching, Vimalakirti Nirdesha Sutra, et al. Sutra Schools: Hwa-Yen School (Hua Yen), Tyan-tai School (Tian Tai)

Buddhist Text Translation Society (http://www.BTTSonline.org) References: FAS-PII(1) 97-99; FAS-PII(2) 100; FAS Ch15 1-2; VBS #179 (3rd door); DFS I 14ff, 28, 30, 31, 7, 8; DFS II 132; DFS I 39; HS 51; HD 26.

Adapted from Fair Use Source: Upasaka Ron Epstein, Buddhism A to Z, 1999: pp. 54-55.

Primary Original Source: The Tripitaka of Sutra, Shastra and Vinaya Dharma teachings (as found in the scripture storehouse of the Indian Sanskrit- Siddham, Chinese, Tibetan and Japanese traditions of the Nalanda Tradition of ancient Nalanda University) of Shakyamuni Buddha, and his Arya Sagely Bodhisattva Bhikshu Monk and Upasaka disciples.

These Good and Wise Advisors (Kaliyanamitra) Dharma Master teachers include Arya Venerables Nagarjuna, Ashvaghosha, Aryasura, Aryadeva, Kumarajiva, Shantideva, Chandrakirti, Chandragomin, Vasubandhu, Asanga, Hui Neng, Atisha, Kamalashila, Dharmarakshita, Tsong Khapa, Thogme Zangpo, Patanjali, Sushruta, Charaka, Vagbhata, Nichiren, Hsu Yun, Hsuan Hua, Shen Kai, Tenzin Gyatso, Kyabje Zopa, Ajahn Chah, Vasant Lad, and other modern day masters. We consider them to be in accord with Tripitaka Master ]]Hsuan Hua]]’s "Seven Guidelines for Recognizing Genuine Teachers"

Nalanda Online University's teachings are based especially on the Dharma Flower Lotus Sutra, the Avatamsaka Sutra, the Shurangama Sutra, the Ksitigarbha Sutra, the Bhaisajya Guru Sutra, the Dharani Sutra, the Vajra Sutra, the Prajna Paramita Hridayam Heart Sutra, the Guhyasamaja, the Kalachakra, the Vajrayogini and Heruka Tantras and their commentaries (shastras) by the above Arya Tripitakacharya Dharma Masters.

Fair Use Compilation Sources for the Above Material on the Teachings of the Buddha Dharma and Sangha:

Primary Fair Use Compilation Source: Epstein, Ronald B., Ph.D, compiler, Buddhist Text Translation Society's Buddhism A to Z, Burlingame, California: Buddhist Text Translation Society, 2003. ISBN 0881393533 Paperback: 284 pages. http://www.BTTSOnline.org www.Amazon.com http://www.bttsonline.org/product.aspx?pid=118



Secondary Fair Use Compilation Source: The Seeker’s Glossary of Buddhism, 2nd ed., San Francisco, California: Sutra Translation Committee of the United States and Canada, 1998: http://www.budaedu.org.tw

Secondary Fair Use Compilation Source: Muller, Charles, editor, Digital Dictionary of Buddhism [DDB], Toyo Gakuen University, Japan, 2007: Username is "guest", with no password.

http://buddhism-dict.net/ddb - Based in large part on the Dictionary of Chinese Buddhist Terms with Sanskrit and English Equivalents (by Soothill and Hodous) Delhi, India: Motilal Banarsidass, 1997.

Secondary Fair Use Compilation Source: Ehrhard, Diener, Fischer, et al, The Shambhala Dictionary of Buddhism and Zen, Boston, Massachusetts: Shambhala Publications, 1991. 296 pages. ISBN 978-0-87773-520-5 http://www.Shambhala.com,




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