“I go for refuge in the Dharma. To seek refuge in the Dharma is to commit oneself to seek refuge in a way of life that seeks the truth.” Lama Surya Das.
I learned the true meaning of the word Dharma several years ago when I read, Awakening the Buddha Within, by Lama Surya Das. I read the book, chapter by chapter, week after week, with my co-workers during our lunch hour. We had formed a book club of sorts, to study spirituality. We came from various religious backgrounds, but we were all seekers.
As we read the book I began making a translation guide for all the new Sanskrit words we were learning: Sangha (spiritual community), Dukkah (suffering), Samsara (conditioned existence), Bodhisattva (spiritual warrior), Dharma (truth).
“Dharma is a Sanskrit word, with a complex meaning. It can be translated as, teaching, truth, doctrine, religion, spirituality, or reality. Its literal meaning is, ‘that which supports or upholds’. Dharma is thus often likened to truth itself…” says Lama Das.
Lama Das further explains, “Another lesser known meaning of Dharma is, ‘that which alleviates, remedies, heals, and restores’. On the very deepest level, the truth embodied in the Dharma teachings heals what ails us.”
On our journey through the teachings, we learned the four noble truths, the eight-fold path, the middle way, chants, meditations, and mantras. When at last we had finished the book, we declared ourselves a “Sangha”, walking the path in search of Dharma.
Learning the ways of the Buddha forever changed the way I see the world.
Let me end with a prayer,
The Refuge Prayer
I go to refuge in the Buddha, the enlightened teacher; I commit myself to enlightenment.
I go to refuge in the Dharma, the spiritual teachings; I commit myself to the truth as it is.
I go to refuge in the Sangha, the spiritual community; I commit myself to living the enlightened life.