Thursday, November 5, 2009

Reflections On Dharma

The word "Dharma" has many meanings. For purposes of this blog, the Dharma I refer to usually indicates some relationship to the teachings of the Buddha.

I also believe there is another dimension of Dharma that is much more difficult to translate into words. Language is clumsy, sometimes. As Gustave Flaubert wrote, "Human speech is like a cracked kettle on which we tap crude rhythms for bears to dance to, while we long to make music that would melt the stars."

This does not mean, however, that we should abandon attempts to render the subtler aspects of the Dharma into modern english. Here is one of my attempts from a journal entry on January 1, 2003:
The Dharma is a unifying force, through which, and by which, everything is held together in perfect order and harmony. Dharma is always full and complete at all levels of existence, from atomic to cosmic. There is as much Dharma in an atom as in the entire universe. As such, Dharma cannot be divided, multiplied, added to, or subtracted from.

This means that all beings have the same full measure of Dharma as I do. Imagine the tiniest, most seemingly insignificant part of you -- a single cell on the tip of one of your hairs, perhaps. That tiny part of you has as much Dharma as your entire body.

Reflecting on this can lead to some profound insights. Very quickly we realize the essential sacredness of all objects and beings, and we also begin to sense the essential unity of all things.
If everything is equal, does it take away from the "specialness" of things? Does it mean that it is okay to harm other beings? The answer to both questions is obviously "no." Because each being is imbued with the same amount of Dharma as any other being, all beings are sacred. The ant crawling across my laptop right now has as much Dharma as me, and therefore this ant deserves the same loving kindness, protection, peace, and well-being as I do.

So I'll just let the little ant be. Besides, I need all the readers I can get.

I Find You In All These Things by Rainer Maria Rilke (translated by James Hollis):
I find you in all these things,
to which I am brother in all,
in which minuscule seed you minutely hide yourself
and the Great, you greatly reveal yourself.

This wondrous game of power
which unfolds itself in submission:
stretching through the roots, thickening in the trunks,
and resurrecting through the treetops.

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