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Dharma Wheel

Dharma – An aspect of truth.

Dharma (Sanskrit: धर्म, romanized: dharma; Pali: धम्म, romanized: dhamma; Traditional Chinese: 法, romanized: ) is a central idea of truth or reality with different meanings in multiple Indian religions. Dharma is held in Hinduism as a cosmic law of the eternal and inherent nature of reality underlying right behavior and social order. In Buddhism, dharma is the nature of reality seen as a universal truth taught by the Buddha.

The Sanskrit noun dharma is a derivation from the root verb dhṛi, which means "to hold, maintain, keep." Therefore, dharma holds one from falling down to hell and takes on a meaning of "what is established or firm," and hence "law," "decree," or "custom." These definitions are incomplete, though. In every day language dharma means "right way of living" and "path of rightness."

Its opposite is adharma (Sanskrit: अधर्म; literal: "not-dharma"). It signifies "that which is not in accord with the dharma." Its underlying meanings include evil, discord, disharmony, wrongness, unnaturalness, immorality, vice, and wickedness. Like dharma, adharma is an elaborate idiosyncratic term with undertones of meaning dependent on circumstances, intention, and context.

In Buddhism, dharma is considered to be "cosmic law and order" and it is also applied to the teachings of Buddha, which are known in Asia as Buddha-Dharma. The teachings encompass discourses on the fundamental principles of Buddhism, like the Four Noble Truths (the truths of the noble/spiritually worthy ones, Buddha's first teaching) and the Noble Eightfold Path (the eight practices that lead to freedom from samsara, the cycle of rebirth). In Buddhist philosophy, dharma is also the term for "phenomena," observable facts and events.

Dharma refers as well to the later traditions of interpretation and addition that the various schools of Buddhism developed to explain and to elaborate upon the Buddha's teachings. The different schools of Buddhism also see dharma as referring to the "truth", or the ultimate reality of "the way that things really are" (Tibetan: Cho).

Three Jewels of Buddhism

Dharma is one of the Three Jewels of Buddhism in which Buddhist practitioners take refuge in to seek lasting happiness. The Three Jewels of Buddhism are the Buddha, signifying the fulfillment of enlightenment, the Dharma, meaning the teachings and the methods of the Buddha in the pursuit of truth and enlightenment, and the Sangha, referring to the monastic order of Buddhism that practices dharma.

In China, dharma is utilized in Ch'an in a specific context in regards to transmission of authentic doctrine, understanding, and bodhi (spiritual awakening and freedom from the cycle of life), i.e., Dharma transmission.

Dharma is part of the mind-body practice promoted in martial arts classes for men, women, and children taught by the Michigan Shaolin Wugong Temple.

 

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