Associated with Buddhism, “dharma” is a word of Sanskrit origin linked to spiritual laws, to karma and even to yoga. Beyond religion or beliefs, a secular definition of dharma is that of the order of the world, of what you have to do.
The most complex aspect of it is to point out what determines the concepts of dharma and adharma (the opposite of what you have to do). Do you have to rely on a moral behavior that is dictated by society or should you find by yourself what is right, the dharma?
Dharma is the order, the norm, the Vedic way; the latter comes from the word “Veda”, which represents the sacred texts of the second millennium BC, of the first religion known in India. Veda is a sacred text, a kind of revelation that addresses the beginning of the world and the flame or the fire.
If you follow dharma, it means that you follow the cosmic law to be in a state of order and harmony. Dharma represents the ideal justice. It is the principle that supports all that manifests itself.
In Buddhism, dharma is a study of life itself: an attempt to understand everything that happens internally and externally in this life. Dharma consists of the teachings and methods recommended to reach an understanding of the world and of oneself.
In Hinduism, dharma is presented as the right action, even as a law. In the Hindu holy text known as Bhagavad Gita, it is said that “if a man tries to follow the dharma that is not suitable for himself, but for a more developed person, he will not succeed and, therefore, he will lose his time and energy”.
It is what gives meaning to life: without dharma, any act would be absurd, because it would be motivated by the absolute nothingness. If you decide to take some time to think about what your personal dharma would be, that inner journey will be full of knowledge and surprises.
Dharma is closely related to the concept of karma. Karma is generally understood as “destination”, but it actually means “action”. The principle of karma is neutral; it is a law of cause and effect. Any action has an effect, although the result of such action may vary depending on the person who carries it out.
Therefore, it is not the act itself that matters the most, but its coherence with dharma. An act that is in accordance with the laws (whether of society, nature, or even of your spiritual laws) will lead to a consequence that you will consider positive. When things flow and work, you are at peace.
If the action is not done according to the law, it can disturb the mind leaving you with that feeling of something that has not been done correctly, even if it has no immediate consequences.
The wheel of dharma, also called the “wheel of the law” or dharmachakra, is a symbol of Buddhism that represents its doctrine and the spread of Buddha’s teachings.
The wheel of dharma is represented by a carriage wheel with eight spokes. It is one of the most ancient icons of Buddhism. There are records of the wheel of dharma from the 2nd century. Today, it is a symbol of gathering and faith for Buddhists around the world and it is easily found in ornaments and jewels as well as in artistic or historical representations.
It is interesting to note that the wheel of dharma has eight spokes because it represents the Noble Eightfold Path of Buddhism, the path that puts an end to dissatisfaction and suffering and favors spiritual fulfillment.
Svadharma is another concept that must be added to that of dharma. It is a personal dharma, one’s own duty, the spiritual laws of each one of us. It is a concept closely related to that of vocation, channeling or realization. As soon as you have a link with svadharma, you are in union with yourself.
When one does not act according to one’s own svadharma, that person stops being in union with himself. So, in order to find that balance, you can practice yoga.
The main idea of yoga is the union of oneself with his svadharma and then, with the world’s dharma. By practicing yoga, you will achieve a slow but inevitable progression of reunification, of reintegration of the cosmic structure, which begins with the reintegration of oneself.