Etymologically, the word Dhamma is derived from the root “dham,” meaning “to uphold” and “to support,” and the commentary further explains that it is that which upholds or supports the practitioner (of Dhamma) and prevents him or her from falling into states of misery or birth in a woeful existence. Of all Buddhist terminology, the word Dhamma commands the widest, most comprehensive meaning. Dharma is to cultivate the knowledge and practice of laws and principles that hold together the fabric of reality, natural phenomena and personality of human beings in dynamic interdependence and harmony. [courtesy Wikipedia]
I begin with this explanation of dhamma because I think it may be one of the most elusive terms in the Buddhist practice. Some feeling that it means “the truth”, while others believe it means “the teachings of Buddha”. While it is both of those, I think it is also far more than that. As Bhante Sujatha has often said to me, “its all dhamma”. This existence this moment, inclusive of our thoughts, actions, words, pain and joy. And as most of us grasp for some meaning to it all, the reality is that it’s gone before we can take our next breath. And any attention that lingers is purely a waste of energy because not only is that moment gone – but we are missing the present.
I find it fascinating how there are days when I just do not want to get out of bed for one reason or another. While the same day I find myself not wanting to go to bed because it means that my day is over. Again and again I am reminded that resistance is futile. Impermanence wins out every time over any desire I have in capturing or controlling that perpetual clock. More importantly, is in seeing that I have wasted so many days and nights because of these desires. And thought I may intellectually understand that I cannot stop time, I continue to wrestle with it as though pure will can overcome any obstacle.
This, to me, is really the dhamma. The nature of our existence is impermanence, insecurity, and a lack of permanent self. A tough pill to swallow for sure. But is in fact the truth and also what the Buddha taught. Only now it is our turn to understand and accept this fully. And we are each offered numerous options as to how we may handle this reality. Either with acceptance, remorse, resistance, or at it’s worst – denial.
I can tell you with completely honesty that I experience each day from all of these angles. And on certain days, I even see clearly how delusional all of it is. I see how my stories are all created in my mind and is the forerunner of all that follows. Meanwhile, I become increasing aware of how short my time is on this earth and should not waste a single moment. My effort and intention, the dhamma, should be fully present and joyful. There is really no time to waste.