Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Wheel of Dharma

Here's another lovely Cave Hill grave. It's a gorgeous monument featuring Buddhist symbols including the Buddha, the Lotus, and the Dharmacakra - an eight-pointed wheel whose hubs represent the Noble Eightfold Path. The Lotus and the Dharmacakra are themselves two of the Eight Auspicious Symbols of Buddhism and other Dharmic traditions. Wikipedia says:

For practicing Buddhists, references to "Dharma" or Dhamma in Pali, particularly as "the" Dharma, generally means the teachings of the Buddha, commonly known throughout the East as Buddha-Dharma.

The status of Dharma is regarded variably by different Buddhist traditions. Some regard it as an ultimate truth, or as the font of all things which lies beyond the 'three realms' (Sanskrit: tridhatu) and the 'wheel of becoming' (Sanskrit: bhavacakra), somewhat like the Christian logos: this is known as Dharmakaya (Sanskrit). Others, who regard the Buddha as simply an enlightened human being, see the Dharma as the essence of the '84,000 different aspects of the teaching' (Tibetan: chos-sgo brgyad-khri bzhi strong) that the Buddha gave to various types of people, based upon their individual propensities and capabilities.

"Dharma" usually refers not only to the sayings of the Buddha, but also to the later traditions of interpretation and addition that the various schools of Buddhism have developed to help explain and to expand upon the Buddha's teachings. For others still, they see the Dharma as referring to the "truth", or the ultimate reality of "the way that things really are".

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