Rinpoche Teachings
On Dharma - the Teachings of Buddha

What is Dharma?

The word Dharma carries distinctive meanings to the different group of individuals with diverse religious beliefs. As a general notion, whatever one does, says or thinks, conforming with a  predefined set of principles of righteousness, which upholds or sustains the positive order of things, for the essential function or its inherent purpose, can be simply encompassed within the idea of Dharma. In the simplest term, anything or conducts that are done in accord with the natural order or the universal law of goodness, is Dharma.

However, from the Buddhist perspective, Dharma often used to describe the body of teachings or practices expounded by Lord Buddha, where one undertakes and follows these conducts set forth by Him as a way to end the painful cyclic existence. Dharma, is not created or made by Buddha. It's a natural order, a universal truth that is primordially presence, which Buddha has realized, and in turn taught it to his followers.

The true meaning of Dharma is very profound. It's hard to fathom and beyond ordinary description or definition.

 In Buddhism, there are two types of Dharma:

a) Dharma of 'Togpa' (realization), and

b) Dharma of  'Lung' (scriptures). 

The Dharma of Realization is the Ultimate Dharma; it is the realization of a Buddha, which does not consist of any divisions or classifications.

The Dharma of Scriptures is further divided into two categories:

a) Buddha scriptures, and

b) Scholar scriptures.

The concise sacred texts as spoken by Lord Buddha are called Sutra. The commentaries on Sutra written by Buddhist scholars are called Shastra.

Sutra is very vast and profound. For example, just emptiness alone was described by Buddha in 16 volumes of texts, translated from Sanskrit to Tibetan language, with approximately 400 pages in each volume. Later, Nagarjuna wrote several shastras on this Sutra teaching laid down by Lord Buddha. For ordinary mundane people, to go directly into Sutra and understand its meaning, is very difficult.

Can anyone write commentaries on Sutra? No! According to the teachings, only scholars possessing the below three qualifications are allowed to write the commentaries on Sutra:

1.      Those with the realization of true nature of mind.

2.      Those blessed by Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.

3.      Those who possess comprehensive knowledge, including all aspects of teachings: Vinaya,     Abhidharma, Madhyamika, Sutra, Shastra, Tantra, etc.

In fact, these Buddhist scholars were earlier predicted by Lord Buddha himself, such as in the case of Nagarjuna and Asanga. He declared: "After my parinirvana, the great masters Nargajuna and Asanga will compile and explain my teachings."

To summarize this in a practical description, Dharma basically means whatever you do that eliminates your negative emotions and leads you to authentic happiness and goodness, for self and other. That's Dharma!

Pure Dharma versus Worldly Dharma

Pure or authentic Dharma has not the slightest selfish intension or any drives for self-centre welfare. None of the great beings of the past have ever sailed across the ocean of sufferings with the mere focus on self-benefits or misusing other to achieve the worldly recognitions.    

Practicing the pure Dharma charts the path to liberation, i.e.: enlightenment, where you have full control over your next existence, and no longer be dragged helplessly by the force of karma like the ordinary people.

In the contrary, worldly Dharma gives you temporal enjoyment that is tainted with pains resulted from hope and fear. Hope of gaining, fear of losing ... one's mind will never be at peace.

I hope you know what eight worldly Dharma are. Very briefly, the "Eight Worldly Dharma" or sometimes known as "Eight Worldly Concerns," "Eight Worldly Preoccupations" or "Eight Worldly Hopes and Fears" are:

Desire for:

Feeling unhappy when encountering:

1)      Fame (status, power etc.)

1)        Disgrace or losing fame

2)      Worldly Pleasure

2)        Sufferings or losing worldly pleasures

3)      Material Gain or Wealth

3)        Poverty or losing wealth

4)      Praise

4)        Harsh words or unpleasant criticisms

These are the primary concerns of the desire human realm beings. They engage in ceaseless activities for  wanting short-term pleasures, and strive so hard to reject woes and adversities, which at the end, will only cause more grief and discontentment, driving one to plunge deeper into the samsara.

Why Learning and Practicing the Authentic Dharma?

As human beings, we have enormous potentials to achieve goals, whether positive or negative, worldly or transcendental. Good or evils, is all depend on how one use this human body. Used rightly, it's a wish-fulfilling gem that brings you ever lasting happiness beyond the samsaric comprehension. Used wrongly, it anchors one to the deepest, ever painful, tricky and endless cyclic existence. For those who have the great fortune to meet the sublime Dharma and an authentic master, this very life is the turning point - for lasting joy or eternal sufferings?

One will never commit oneself whole-heartedly to anything, unless one recognized and felt deeply the reasons to do so. Therefore, contemplate on the falls of the samsara until one thoroughly convinced. Otherwise, one's dharma practices will remain shallow and easily shaken by adversities.

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