Saturday, February 17, 2007

All you need is Dharma is all you need

Brad made an interesting post over at Hardcore Zen, in which he stated, "the word Dharma is getting so over-used, it's become almost worthless anymore."

As an aside, he wrote the post "off the cuff" and I really liked the sponteneity of the resulting content, so I'm doing the same - that is, not preparing content in advance and then editing, and not really thinking about the result, but just letting the thoughts flow.

I would agree with Brad that it is useless in a pop culture context, but let's not throw the baby out with the bath water! "Dharma" is really a wonderful, interesting, powerful word, and we can gain much insight into the Buddhist view/path by just looking at the meaning of the word itself.

"Dharma" is Sanscrit. In Pali, it is "Dhamma." The word has various different meanings in various traditions and contexts, but here are a few:
  • Natural Law, or like Brad points out, "The Rule of the Universe"
  • Process, or Method
  • the way things work / the way it is
  • the Tao (okay, I threw that one in as my own association)
  • The teachings of the Buddha... and the Buddha himself!

Break it down, reassemble, and look at the relationships... Far from worthless, 'tis a thing of beauty!


At February 17, 2007, Blogger Jordan & The Tortoise said...


Well said.

Glad you are keeping Flapping Mouths alive.


At February 18, 2007, Blogger MikeDoe said...

It's interesting. I assumed that anyone writing about Buddhism would just write - spontaneously without preparation!!

I may contemplate about things before I write but what is published is the first and only draft (spelling and grammar are corrected).

Even in the office I work the same. I have found it best not to think and write, think or write but not both at the same time....

At February 18, 2007, Blogger Anatman said...

Thanks, Jordan. In the spirit of keeping it alive as a forum, are you interested in contributing?

Same question for you, Mike. This blog was originally started as a forum with various contributors, but over time the contributors dispersed. I'm thinking about wiping the slate clean, and starting over, creating a new list of contributors.

Mike, usually I will contemplate prior to writing a post (on the main board), then I will read what I have written and preview it and edit it, prior to making it live. I'm getting more into the blogging tradition now, and just writing and posting without any editing.

At February 18, 2007, Blogger Jordan & The Tortoise said...

Thanks for the offer. I would love to.

On spontainius blogging:
I tend to write everything out in word that is on my mind first because I am horrendous at spelling and grammer despite taking 11th grade english two times.


At February 18, 2007, Blogger MikeDoe said...

Today's blog is not yesterday's blog. Mouths are flapping less.

At February 18, 2007, Blogger Anatman said...

Mouths are flapping less, or perhaps flapping elsewhere. I think this blog served as an introduction to blogging for many of us, so a segment of the original contributors cut their teeth here, and then left to start their own personal blogs.

At February 19, 2007, Blogger kidude said...

I find that the word dharma has to be clarified before you can use it in a conversation. It is an ace word, like a lot of sanskrit and japanese terms i've heard in association with buddhism its variety of meaning adds to it's colour.

However popular culture can make life difficult. Like the other day, i went to a different zen group and they were using the word karma quite a lot, and i didn't know if they meant what i mean by karma or the popular idea (it also tends to carry conatations of reincarnation i find). Buddhism too, i feel, tends to be prone to such ambiguity due to popular interpritation. It's often described as being very depressing because of the use of the word suffering a lot.

On spontenaity, sometimes i'm in the mood to write in one go, sometimes i can't. I'm sure the philosophy of action still has room for thinking about what your doing and reflecting on your writing to ensure it makes the point you want.

At February 26, 2007, Blogger Anatman said...

Hi Kidude. "Karma" is an extremely loaded term... But that is a topic that merits its own post!


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