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What is Dharma? Part 1

Jesus in IndiaThis post is the first of a series where we present our view of dharma, which we view as the teachings of the dharma which Jesus brought back from India.

The nature of dharma

First it must be stated that mere philosophy or theology is totally useless if it is not supported by 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 or jiva. Those principles and practices which comprise such an enabling life are what we mean by dharma.

A philosophical view is only a darshan, an intellectual view of the way things are. Such is necessary, but only as it leads to the mode of living that is dharma. True dharma reveals the Eternal Being, the Sanatana Purusha. Therefore it is rightly called Sanatana (Eternal) Dharma.

The following is our attempt to outline and define the philosophy of Sanatana Dharma, though mere words can never fully express or encompass it adequately.

God (Brahman)

God, or Brahman, is Absolute Being, outside of which there can be nothing. As a consequence, all relative existence is essentially absolute existence, and as such is the divine reality in manifestation without any loss or alternation of its nature. Thus there is no such thing as creation from nothing.

The same is true of all the individual consciousnesses: spirit-selves or atmas. No one is, or can be, either mortal or sinful by nature. Rather, just as all the waves are formed of the ocean and are an inherent, inseparable part of the ocean, so all individuals or jivas are eternal parts of Brahman, the whole.

As Shankara wrote in one of his hymns: “O Lord, although there is really no difference between myself and You, yet I belong to You–You do not belong to me. The ocean can say: ‘I am the wave,’ but the wave cannot say: ‘I am the ocean.’” That is: Brahman is the totality of our being and existence, but no one jiva can claim to be the totality of Brahman.

Nevertheless, each jiva is totally divine. Any experience or condition that contradicts or veils this is illusory (maya), and can be eradicated from the consciousness by the practice of yoga as revealed to and formulated by the ancient sages (rishis) of India such as Maharishi Patanjali and Yogi Guru Gorakhnath. Realization of one’s innate divinity is inevitable for each person (jiva). Jiva the individual is Shiva the Absolute.

World-view

Dharma includes a God-and-spirit-centric view of the world which affirms that all experiences of enlightenment and divine contact are open to every single human being; that no historical event of spiritual illumination and revelation is unique and unrepeatable if it is authentic.

Further, that every spiritual aspirant who follows the path of yoga can verify for himself the truth or error of any statement of belief or unbelief, that blind acceptance of any tenet or individual as a source of spiritual knowledge is spiritually destructive, including demands of exclusivity for any religion or teacher.

Next: The Teachings of Dharma about Identity with Brahman

For more on this subject, read the following articles:

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