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Monday, July 09, 2007

Taking Refuge 2: Dharma

We are, all of us to one degree or another, in love with knowledge; gathering data about the world around us. Some of it is useful for daily living, some is good entertainment, and some merely fills our minds with useless concepts, chatter etc. Out of fear of silence, of simply being still, alone with our own company, we pursue things, ideas and activities to occupy our mind, steering it away from its becoming intimate with its true nature.

Then there is the knowledge of Dharma, which too can become just another useless concept if we do not apply it. True knowledge of Dharma transforms our lives. It opens our heart, expands our awareness, makes for creative responsible action and liberates our mind. The issue becomes, "Are you up to it?!"

Dharma is one of the most used words in Buddhist-Yoga teachings, and is instrumental in Hindu-Yoga (Dharma is the basic theme for both of Hinduism's great epics, The Ramayama and The Mahabharata, which includes The
Bhagavad-Gita
within it).

Within Buddhist teachings it can mean:

1. The teachings directed to awakening.
2. Law, particularly the law of dependent arising; the principle that
nothing arises without causes and conditions.
3. Duty; acknowledging and understanding the Dharma of one's life
(sva-dharma).
4. Everything; all phenomena whether material, mental or otherwise (the
'content' of the Fourth Foundation of Mindfulness)

We can recollect and contemplate the teachings of Dharma for inspiration for practice. The teachings present guidelines for action. We engage with Dharma throughout the momentary experiences of our life. The Dharma invites us to engage with reality; to see clearly the distortions of our perceptions and to overcome reactivity. YET, the Dharma too is not some "thing" and therefore no-thing to grasp on to. Beware of clinging to Dharma. It is meant, like a raft that carries us across the river, to be a resource, a tool for liberation, and as such it challenges us.

Truly engaging, practicing, taking refuge in Dharma means opening (with no holding back) to all the immense challenge of being alive! Dharma challenges our selfishness, our negativity, and our fear. In taking refuge in Dharma, we can no longer look for refuge in familiar habits, fear, anxiety, negativity, selfishness. In meeting this challenge, we become refugees.

Other traditions talk of darshan as seeing the guru. In Buddhist-Yoga, we practice darshan of Dharma. Seeing into the impermanence, the non-self nature of phenomena. It means seeing into the truth of our existence, here and now. When we engage wholeheartedly with Dharma, we even come to love the Dharma. But again it is a love free of clinging.

Some questions for contemplation:

1. Are you willing to draw upon the teachings that arise within the
specific experiences of your life?
2. What is the difference between beliefs and inquiry?
3. What do you regard as the most important teaching you have had in
your life?
4. "Dependent Arising" is an essential feature of Dharma teaching. How
do you understand this term?

These questions are asked in the spirit of inquiry. There are no 'right' or 'wrong' answers. They are questions with which we are asked to engage.

Yours in metta,
Bopsa Frank Jude

.: posted by Poep Sa Frank Jude 12:57 PM


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