Over the years, in my search for an answer to the Big Question, I have done quite a lot of reading about Eastern Religions. I expect I will write more about that at some point, but for the moment I just want to explain what I mean when I talk about Dharma. Dharma is a Very Big Concept to try to squash into a very few words, and although it is supposedly ‘universal’, there seem to be as many definitions of it as there are people who talk about it. After many hours of re-reading favourite texts and researching articles on the internet, I suddenly realised (with the help of Simon’s incisive feedback on what I had already written), that I was disappearing down a very deep Rabbit Hole of Hearsay. In fact, I was falling into the very trap that I so glibly exhort others to avoid, when referring to one of my favourite Buddha quotes;
Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But, whatsoever, after due examination and analysis, you find to be kind, conducive to the good, the benefit, the welfare of all beings…that doctrine believe and cling to, and take it as your guide.
So, following Simon’s sage advice, I deleted all the stuff that I had so painstakingly paraphrased from various highly-respected sources, and will now attempt to explain what I mean in My Own Words.
The word dharma literally translates as that which upholds or supports, but it is usually, and somewhat lifelessly, translated into English as ‘law’. Throughout the history of Indian philosophy, it has governed ideas about the proper conduct of living – ideas that are upheld by the ‘laws’ of the universe. In Buddhism, the term Dharma has three meanings: the ultimate principle of existence, the phenomena of experience, and the teaching about the nature of things. They all go together – so the ultimate principle of existence is observed and perceived as the actuality of experience, and the teaching about the whole caboodle is what enables the Wonder-Of-It-All to be be realised and understood by people. As all the very clever spiritual people point out, by its very nature Dharma is undefinable, (but that doesn’t stop them – or me – trying). I guess you could describe it as the Essential Principle of Life, The Universe and Everything. I think of it as a sort of Mother-of-All-Things. In my head, Dharma is pretty much the same as The Tao. It is nurturing, non-judging and inexhaustible. It gives rise to absolutely everything. It is the limitless source from which everything flows and to which everything returns. It’s a bit like some notions of God (but also in many ways quite different – I will definitely be writing more about that at a later point). Trying to get your intellectual head round it is a pretty frustrating and ultimately pointless exercise. It seems to be full of paradoxes and contradictions, and it defies the sort of black/white, if/then logic that has shaped the way our human brains have learned to think over the last hundred thousand years or so. So it’s a bit of a relief to discover that actually, the Thing about Dharma (or the Tao, if you prefer), is that it’s not really something to be ‘understood’ in an intellectual sense at all. Instead, it turns out that…
The distinctive feature of Dharma is that it should be capable of being realised at the experiential level through insight, and applied in daily life….
and here’s the Best Bit…
With the proper application of Dharma in daily life, one is bound to get amazing results. When this starts happening, one begins to realise sooner rather than later that applied Dharma is nothing but the art of living, as it keeps one happy and contented in all situations. from; “Dharma – Its Definition and Universal Application”.
So, basically, the trick to all this Tao/Dharma stuff is to learn (like Bridget Jones, and a million-and-one hippies) to ‘Go With The Flow’. One has to somehow learn to sense its presence and movement and to bring one’s own life and movements into harmony with it. Simple really (lol). And that is the reason why this site is called llamadharma.com. It is about our journey of discovery about Life, and about llamas. It is a record of the path we have taken, the sights we see along the way, and the way the Path unfolds effortlessly before us when we travel in harmony with it. It is also a record of the wrong turns we take, and of what we learn from our inevitable mistakes. It is the story of a couple of dharma wayfarers, who are learning how to enjoy every step of their journey on the Way to who-knows-where.