WHAT IS DHARMA
What is Dharma? Why is it relevant to us, in the modern world?
Why did the sages of old, of every civilization, insist that Dharma is the only TRUE path
Dharma is a cosmic principle that is difficult, if not
impossible, to define. Our Dharma is our true place in the cosmic process: in time, in
space, in awareness, in thought, deed and desire. The eternal principle of Dharma
determines the harmonious functions of the cosmic machine. In order that we fulfil our
role in the divine play we must behave within our Dharma. That is, we ought to do the
right thing, at the right time, In the right way, and for the right reason. By this we
attain balance. To establish balance within ourselves ensures our own welfare and the
welfare of society. And opens the path prepared for us by the divine.
is an Eastern term whose Western equivalents might include morality, ethics, virtue,
righteousness and purity. Sadly, most of those terms are distinctly unfashionable in our
modern culture. Yet it is Dharma by which the seeker of truth can evolve to gnosis.
In India the deity Sri Vishnu is believed to have taken more than
9 incarnations (avatars) on this earth to defend the righteous (i.e. those living within
Dharma) against the demonic forces (adharma).
As the warrior-prince Sri Rama (c. 6000 BC), Lord Vishnu, rescued
the Goddess Sri Sita from the immoral intentions of Ravana, the 10-headed demon King of
Lanka. Ravana was a violent, materialistic and egotistical conqueror who despised the will
The pure and innocent Rama fought a mighty battle against the
demon king and his army of darkness, finally slaying him with a single silver arrow.
Rama's army of bears and monkeys, whose weapons were little more than rocks and tree
trunks, rejoiced for their beloved Sita had been reclaimed and the Divine Order restored.
This legend of Rama, the Ramayana, teaches that a person who
defends dharma is destined to vanquish evil and ignorance. Indeed, the entire cosmos comes
to their aid as is shown by the allegiance of the bears, monkeys and other aspects of
nature. Fundamental to the defence of Dharma is the sanctity of woman, in this case
who is a Goddess; the Divine Feminine incarnate. Ravana's death from a single silver arrow
demonstrated the cosmic power of Rama's dharmic purity.
Sri Krishna (c. 4000 BC) also incarnated to destroy demons
opposed to Dharma. Unlike in the age of Rama, impurity (adharma) was not exclusive to the
demonic races alone but had begun to enter into the minds of men. Krishna's life
culminated in the Mahabharata war which was a single, momentous battle between two royal
families involving the deaths of over 2 million warriors on a battlefield called
Kurukshetra (now north of New Delhi). The entire battle pivoted around a divine woman
The Kaurava family (the bad guys) had insulted her chastity in
the royal court after cheating the Pandava family (good guys) in a game of dice. By
threatening a woman's chastity the Kauravas had sunk to the lowest level of 'adharma'.
Thus the egotistical and hate-filled Kauravas threatened the ancient essence of Indian
Krishna guided the Pandavas to victory on the
battlefield of Kurukshetra, often by miraculous intervention, so that Draupadi was avenged
and Dharma restored.
Unlike Rama, Krishna did not adhere to an external code of
Dharma. Rather, he saw to the essence of each situation and acted in such a way as to
manifest the greatest divine good.
Despite many modern interpretations of Krishna, he was not a
womaniser the ancient (and more authentic) scriptures show that he was completely
innocent of lust and greed. Thus Krishna, as the essence of purity, was the master of
yogic spirituality, the essence of dharma.
Today Kurukshetra is the battlefield of the human mind. The
Mahabharata war is the struggle between our sublime aspirations (truth, beauty and
awareness) and our gross desires (security, sensation and power). As individuals we merely
choose sides. When we choose as the Pandavas, we choose Dharma and its fruit of spiritual
evolution. The entire cosmos (Sri Krishna) guides us through the battle of life and we
ultimately defend the sanctity of Draupadi, the divine feminine, fountain of truth within
us. Choose the Kauravas and we are destined for defeat for we elect to move against the
divine order. Dharma itself will destroy us and the ultimate prize of spiritual awareness
These legends illustrate both the heavenly and earthly importance
of Dharma. The Mahabharata is very much older than the famous works of classical Greece
(in fact it is longer than Homer's Iliad and Odyssey combined); even its origin is
mystical, having been written by the sage Viyasa who perceived the entire story in the
state of meditation thousands of years before it occurred.
When Moses brought down the 10 commandments from Mt. Sinai he
taught the Israelites that Dharma was the divine law by which they (who loved truth)
aspired could free themselves from their Egyptian slave masters (the base desires) and
reach the promised land (spiritual liberation).
Although Mohammed led his followers into a bloody and terrible
war to defend the law of Islam (Dharma) from the child-murdering and mysoginistic
idolaters, he described that physical war as the 'lesser jihad'.The 'greater Jihad' is the
infinitely more difficult war which the seekers fight within themselves for moral
purification, death of the ego and victory over desire, attachment and conditioning.
plays were all lessons in the cosmic supremacy of Dharma over human folly. Thus Hamlet's
vacillation between his princely duty and his frivolous irresolution led to the death of
Ophelia (loss of the divine feminine) and his own extinction the tragedy was that
by procrastinating his Dharma he forfeited his destiny to true fulfilment as king (truth).
Whereas Henry V, by immediately taking to his Dharma as a fair king, won not only a
miraculous, victory (the Battle of Agincourt in which the English were outnumbered 25 to
1) over the arrogant French (human ego) but also the fair French princess (sublime beauty
Christ taught us that forgiveness frees us from our own petty ego
(and its qualities such as pride, vengeance, aggression, grudge bearing) so that we can
stay on the path of Dharma. Christ's message is encapsulated in statements such as 'He who
looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery' in other words an
external morality or ethic is insufficient, for true Dharma is purity of heart and mind.
So Why is Dharma so absent from the consciousness of the
A significant share of the blame falls upon mainstream Christian
doctrine. As more light is thrown upon the gnostic (mystic) Christian sects and their
so-called heretical scriptures such as the Nag Hammadi library and the Dead Sea Scrolls,
we see that Christ did in fact confirm the then popular ideas of Karma, reincarnation,
self-realisation and the Divine Feminine (Holy Ghost/Mother Mary) as reality.
The church's erasure of the principle of karma reduces our
feeling of direct responsibility for our life, our circumstances and our personal
spirituality. It actually encourages immediate gratification and sensationalism.
Cancelling the principle of reincarnation in preference for a single-life doctrine also
encourages irresponsible action since we can supposedly atone for any bad actions by last
Worse, it blinds us to the idea of spiritual evolution through
many lives through observance of Dharma. Paul was neither a saint nor an apostle, in fact
many of the gnostic accounts describe him as an enemy of Christ's true teachings. His
ideas of 'blind faith' and 'conversion' in order to enter heaven after death negates
possibility of sustained experience of heaven while in the physical body. The cancellation
of mysticism is furthered by the doctrine of 'original sin' in which human beings are said
to be fundamentally flawed and therefore unable to perfect themselves let alone be worthy
of the divine and its experience.
Finally, it is Christian false doctrine that denigrates women
beginning with Eve's temptation and ending with the misogynist Paul. It is no wonder that
the Holy Ghost/Divine Feminine is not understood in the Christian West since the
patriarchal churches have virtually edited it out of existence.
Now the Christian West is comprised mainly of
individuals with little real sense of connection to the cosmic order and so their mundane
religion today has little bearing on spirituality. Nor does spirituality and its
experience depend on their behaviour. Rather than living according to Dharma that pervades
their life people are mentally enslaved to Church Doctrine and its empty promise of
salvation. Whether or not we are Christians, the churches unauthorised cancellation of
these principles has separated the Western awareness from its spiritual roots. Hence the
poverty of Dharma in the West today rests considerably upon the shoulders of the
Protestant and Catholic churches who have propagated their subtly Anti-Christian doctrines
for over 1000 years.
When the Western Europeans colonised the New World the
Amer-Indians there were stupefied by the whites' lack of relationship to the land and the
gods, and also by the incredible credence given to material possessions. There was an
AmerIndian prophecy predicting the coming of whites: Apparently if the whiteman came
bearing the symbol of a circle the Age of Truth would begin. If they came bearing a cross
it would signal the end of the world. Apparently the Amerindian's were forewarned of the
followers of Paul who came literally with a Bible in one hand and a gun in the other.
While the gun may have murdered Indians, the Paulian distortion of the Bible murdered an
entire spiritual culture.
The modern Churches of today continue that tradition by paying
token respect to Christ while passively encouraging the culture of materialism, dogmatic
dependence and superficiality to which He was so obviously opposed.
'True spirituality can enlighten science
so that it serves rather than enslaves'
Institutionalised religions and their inherently
fake theologies are not the only culprit. While the Vatican and others like it may have
cut the living heart out of religious experience, they still pay lip-service to the memory
Modern society has a new religion which has
supplanted irrational faith. It continues to undermine Dharma with its narrow but
self-glorifying creed of 'rationalism'. This new faith is 'science'.
When Newton 'explained' that the universe was little more than a
giant piece of clockwork and when Descartes 'proved' that the human being was simply a
complex machine devoid of divine inspiration, the age of rationality began.
The irrational ideas of spiritual experience (which so far can't
be measured) and Divine Will (which is beyond intellect) were discarded in favour of
reason and logic. The industrial revolution taught man that his science and technology
could dominate Nature, whose laws, until then, he honoured and respected.
Metaphysics was discredited as illogical. Religion, mythology and
many other aspects of the universal Dharma were explained away as 'coping mechanisms'
designed to maintain 'psychological homeo-stasis' in a 'hostile environment'.
'Science' and the religion of 'rationality' became the
pre-eminent cultural shaping force. Since, the scientists said, God doesn't exist, neither
does 'goodness' nor 'badness', 'right' or 'wrong'. Moral instinct, wisdom and conscience
(Dharma) were discouraged as illogical. The spiritual glue which holds a civilisation on a
cohesive and Dharmic path was scientifically removed and replaced with the materialistic
ethos called 'technological advancement', 'consumerism' and 'permissiveness'.
A society which could have looked to the
beacon of spiritual experience and used its guiding light of Dharma to the betterment of
all now scrambles blindly after the dollar in a lifestyle appropriately called the
'rat-race'. No wonder, then, that Western culture can create a sense of disintegration in
so many of us.
However to simply blame science or the dead religions is
unrealistic, for, I feel, they actually represent forces operating within us. Could
science and rationality be symptoms of our own ego and intellect which has developed
without relationship to the Whole? So much so that it dominates our awareness and
convinces us to forget the innate dharma within us? Not unlike spoilt children who try to
dominate their wiser parents with their own petty desires.
Do religious institutions represent the conditionings and fears
within us? They exist only because we want to be told what to do, what is right and wrong,
true and false. Our mind screams for something comprehensible to cling to rather than
embark on the painful journey of self-awareness which ends not in dogma but in 'Gnosis'
that will put an end to ego and mind as we join the divine intelligence.
True spirituality can enlighten science so that it serves rather
than enslaves, and it can resurrect the spirit of universal religion that exists within us
The tenth avatar of Lord Vishnu is 'Kalki'. His name means
"pure" and the prophets say he will ride a white horse at the end of this
millennium to destroy the enemies of Dharma forever. St John's revelation foretells
"The Rider" whose name is 'faithful and true'. He too will ride a white horse
and avenge the true saints. Many other ancient cultures prophesy the coming of an awesome
being who will bless the upholders of the Cosmic Order (Dharma) and wreak vengeance on the
negative forces and their sympathisers. As the world teeters on the brink of ecological
and cultural collapse, it seems that the salvation of humanity, indeed the world, lies in
the path of balance and awareness called Dharma. The ancient prophecies remind us of the
urgency with which we must choose our final path.
Our common sense,
the ancient Scriptures, the prophets, the signs of Mother Earth and now the scientists
themselves all promise that the path of 'adharma' will end in catastrophe, judgement and
To resurrect our civilisation from this imminent course requires
the awakening of the essence of Dharma within us. Our culture does not teach us divine
law, let alone the means to realise it. So we must look within to our true being, the
Spirit, the source of living Dharma. The Spirit is made known by the process of
self-realisation which occurs in the infinite space between two thoughts -ie. meditation.
By true meditation the spontaneous and innate dharma can be awakened and made manifest in
each of us.
The collective salvation of our civilisation requires the inner
transformation of every individual from the ignorance of materialism and individualism to
the Gnosis of collective spiritual awareness. The genuine seekers of truth will receive
the spiritual awakening not by psychedelic drugs nor by occult practices. Nor shall they
have to abandon society to join some spiritual aristocracy of monks, priests or hermits.
Those who seek the truth with the depth of their heart shall have it awakened in them
spontaneously and silently by the strength of their pure desire. They only need to
recognise that it will manifest not in thought, image or philosophy but in the silent
space between two thoughts. In this space inspires the breath and will of the Divine, the
fountain of Dharma.