Those who take up the practice of yoga need to “dive deep” and understand principles and practices which comprise a way of life that enables the individual to unfold and bring to perfection the qualities that are the eternal nature of every individual spirit. These principles are called Dharma.
A Brief Sanskrit Glossary defines dharma as “The righteous way of living, as enjoined by the sacred scriptures and the spiritually illumined; law; lawfulness; virtue; righteousness.”
Dharma is the path by which an aspirant can become a true human being, one who is fulfilling the very purpose of existence: the passage from humanity to divinity. Intelligent practice of yoga is not possible without knowing and adhering to this path.
A mere philosophy or theology is useless if it is not supported by a way of life (see The Yoga Life) that enables this internal unfoldment.
Understanding the principles of Dharma, and leading the Yoga Life with effective Yoga Practice enables us to awaken to spiritual realities, first in the realm of ideas, and then in the realm of direct experience. The words of the wise and the teachings of the scriptures can help us begin to see this other world as it truly is, and to learn the means of purification and meditation which will enable us to move from mere belief to actual direct experience.
Most people intuit that the greatest wisdom comes from the East, the ancient home of Dharma – the Science of Life and the Path of Unfoldment. But how difficult it can be to reach that stage of the deep diving that Sri Ramakrishna speaks of, where the gems are discovered.
Understanding Dharma through the spiritual classics
The principles of dharma, like the principles of mathematics, are both eternal and universal in their application. Just as mathematics has no originator or author or connotation of any culture, the same is true of dharma. Dharma is discovered, not created by human beings. It is “the way things are.”
Since Dharma is eternal, it has been discovered and illumined by those of spiritual attainment in many traditions, especially in those writings which have been respected and proven over the centuries, and which we call scriptures.
In this collection of commentaries on major scriptures of Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity and Taoism, Abbot George Burke shares the gems he has found from a lifetime of “diving deep.” Through a unique combination of exhaustive study and scholarship, and insight and wisdom gleaned from personal experience, his writings offer new gems that will enrich all true seekers.
And his focus is always on Dharma – presenting a practical perspective to help the serious spiritual student in their pursuit of higher life.
Below are summaries of the classic religions and their scriptures, followed by links to the books you can read online here or download for reading off-line.
The vast body of metaphysical principles known as Sanatana Dharma (the Eternal Dharma), which along with yoga originated in India, is embodied in the texts of the Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita and the Yoga Sutras (Yoga Darshan) of the sage Patanjali.
The sacred scriptures of India are vast. Yet they are only different ways of seeing the same thing, the One Thing which makes them both valid and ultimately harmonious. That unifying subject is Brahman: God the Absolute, beyond and besides whom there is no “other” whatsoever.
In these commentaries on the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali you will discover the value of these classic scriptures in growing your spiritual life.
“I was delighted to discover so much more than a commentary. Utilizing his wonderful gift of expression, and employing poetry, parable, personal experience, and a generous dose of his own deep spiritual insight and wisdom, Abbot George has produced a work that is extremely readable and immensely practical.”
– Russ Thomas
Gautama Buddha, being a son of India and its Dharma, was insistent on clarity and discrimination: what is true and what is false, what is useful and what is not, both in the religious traditions of his day and the path of the yogi. By his own spiritual practice and inner realizations he shared with his disciples with special clarity the path to walk, and the paths to avoid.
The Dhammapada is the first collection of Gautama Buddha’s practical teachings for those seeking Nirvana, compiled only three months after his passing away by his enlightened disciples, who named it Dhammapada: The Way of Dharma. It is a distillation of forty-five years of the Buddha’s teaching.
Original Christianity is not new, but eternal in essence, embracing the Ancient Wisdom (Dharma) that has existed from the beginning of the world, especially in the Far East. Saint Augustine wrote in the fourth century:
“The identical thing that we now call the Christian religion existed among the ancients and has not been lacking from the beginnings of the human race until the coming of Christ in the flesh, from which moment on the true religion, which already existed, began to be called ‘Christian.’”
All master teachers of humanity, including Jesus the Christ, were revivers of that Wisdom, which at their time was either lost or almost extinguished. In the commentaries on the Gospel of Thomas, the Odes of Solomon, the Aquarian Gospel, Abbot George explores the dharma found in them, and their practical value for spiritual students.
Lao Tzu is a famous example of the fact that the truth of Dharma can be experienced and expressed in ever-new ways. Taoist masters through the centuries have proved the truth of the Lao Tzu’s Tao Teh King. For truth seekers it stands as a monument to Truth. Even those who understand it imperfectly will reap great gain from its study.
“In The Tao Teh King for Awakening, Abbot George has brought to bear once again his gift of making the elusive and not so obvious accessible to the sincere seeker of the Divine in a most readable, enjoyable and, yes, practical manner. His insightful commentary on each verse of this ageless classic dissipates the fog from those minds, especially in the west, that have long stumbled through the intricacies of The Tao Teh King. ..A truly spiritually refreshing experience.”
–Wm. Eric Thomas
Explore the links below to read and download these commentaries. Almost all these commentaries can be read in four ways: online in their totality, as downloadable PDFs in our E-Library, or purchased from Amazon as an Ebook or Paperback.
Almost all these commentaries can be read in four ways: online in their totality, as downloadable PDFs in our E-Library, or purchased from Amazon as an Ebook or Paperback.
Dharma for Awakening Series
The endless spiritual treasures of this essential scripture have been mined by saints, scholars, and devotees throughout the ages. Through a unique combination of exhaustive study and scholarship, and insight and wisdom gleaned from personal experience, Abbot George Burke’s commentary offers new gems that will enrich all true seekers. Read it now.
Sanatana Dharma in its primal form is to be found in the Isha, Kena, Katha, Prashna, Mundaka, Mandukya, Taittiriya, Aitaryeya, Chandogya, Brihadaranyaka, and Svetashvatara Upanishads. These eleven texts (upanishad means “teaching”–literally “that which was heard when sitting near”) are attached to the Vedas, the ancient hymns of the Indian sages, and also knows as Vedanta, the End of the Vedas. The following articles provide useful commentaries on these important scriptures. By Abbot George Burke. Read it now.
The Dhammapada is not a transcription of a single talk by Gautama the Buddha. Rather, it is a collection of his words on the most important subjects for those seeking Nirvana. It was compiled only three months after his passing away by his enlightened disciples (arhats), who gave it the name Dhammapada, which means “Portions of the Dharma” or “The Way of Dharma.” The Dhammapada is a distillation of forty-five years of teaching. This commentary is the completion of a years-long project, and students of practical spiritual life will find it an invaluable aid to their practice. By Abbot George Burke. Read it now.
Lao Tse was born in the Hunan province around 604 B.C., and eventually became historian and librarian of the Emperor’s royal library at the Court of Chow. Loving solitude, he was rarely seen, but he met the great Confucius at least once, inspiring him to say about Lao Tse: “This day I have seen a dragon. Birds have wings to fly with, fish have fins to swim with, wild beasts have feet to run with. For feet there are traps, for fins nets, for wings arrows. But who knows how dragons surmount wind and clouds into heaven?” Those who know and comprehend the teachings of Lao Tse know how–and do. This commentary by Abbot George Burke on Lao Tse’s Tao Teh King is extremely useful for students of dharma. Read it now.
The Gospel of Thomas shows a different side of the teachings of Jesus, which was the religion learned by Jesus from his Essene family and during his “lost years” in India, then brought by him back to the “West,” to Israel. This commentary by Abbot George Burke makes clear this remarkable writing, which has only been available for a little more than a century since it was discovered. Read now.
In the last quarter of the nineteenth century, an Englishwoman named Mabel Collins was inspired to record teachings on the beginnings of the spiritual quest in a small book called Light On The Path. She did not consider herself the author but only the transmitter. Therefore she insisted that the title page say: “Written down by M. C.” In the following commentary we will be carefully analyzing her inspired transcription, for those who would make the Great journey must know both the path and how to travel upon it. By Abbot George Burke. Read it now.
Jesus and India
Jesus lived most of his life in India before becoming a missionary-martyr of Eternal Truth (Sanatana Dharma) in the West. This booklet presents the full story, including the historical texts about His life in India, and the inevitable conclusions that must be drawn about The Real Jesus and His Real Teachings. Written by Abbot George Burke.
Writings on Sanatana Dharma and Study Aids
Abbot George Burke’s insightful commentary brings even further light to Ellam Ondre’s refreshing perspective on what Unity signifies, and the path to its realization. It is a timely and important contribution to Advaitic literature that explains Unity as the fruit of yoga sadhana, rather than mere wishful thinking or some vague intellectual gymnastic, as is so commonly taught by the modern “Advaita gurus.”
“All that glitters is not gold,” is a maxim that can prevent a great deal of mistaken action and thought, including acceptance of ideas that on the surface appear truthful, but if examined prove utterly foolish. In this study Abbot George reveals the foolishness which passes for wisdom in “Advaita” teachings. For the yogi aspiring to higher awareness viveka is an absolute essential. Learn Spiritual Viveka here.
Shankara outlines in a section titled “A Method Of Enlightening A Disciple” from the Upadeshasahasri–A Thousand Teachings–how the aspirants should receive the first instructions in the inquiry as to the nature of the Self. It begins “We shall now explain a method of teaching the means to liberation for the benefit of those aspirants after liberation who are desirous and are possessed of faith.” The texts cited certainly need comment–as Shankara assumed those who used his text would do. This commentary by Swami Nirmalananda Giri (Abbot George Burke) provides that commentary.
Ancient Indian thinkers stressed six darshanas, which are sometimes called the six schools of philosophy. The Sad-darshanas are the six orthodox systems of Indian philosophy: Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Sankhya, Yoga, Mimamsa, and Vedanta. One of the best summations of this subject, by Raghavan Iyer.
A great aid for students of Eastern thought, this glossary contains full translations and explanations of many of the most commonly used spiritual sanskrit terms, and will help students of the Bhagavad Gita, the Upanishads, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and other indian scriptures and philosophical works and commentaries found on this site. Explore now.