Rites and Wrongs
Sometimes, we are called upon to resolve matters of dogma and technical practice.
One Reader Writes:
When you spoke of the Dharma the other day, I was assuming you were referring to Buddhism. I just read an article on the Kali Yuga in wikipedia that seems to show Hindus have Dharma also. Do you know if their meaning is more or less the same and/or derived from the same source?
NAME AND ADDRESS WITHHELD
ps: and please - don't waste too much time on lil' old me. A simple response would do (though if you have the time to wax....)
To which I offered the following, highly technical Tibetan Buddhist reply:
It doesn't really fuckin' matter.
When you get lost in the complexities, the simple truths vanish.
"Dharma" in the context I was using it probably comes straight from the Bhagavad Gita: You fulfill your path by fulfilling your task impeccably. In Arjuna's case, it was the War of the Gods, and suddenly he was gripped with every kind of rationalization, doubt, question, etc. At which point, Krishna said, (I paraphrase):
Yo! Dude! You're in a chariot! You're wearing armor. This is a war.
What do you THINK you're supposed to be doing? Playing Dixie? Making tofu chili?
You're in a war. Act like a warrior.
You're here. Be here. When you're there, be there.
It's a lot like the Hasidic concept that you constantly pray in order to liberate the life force that's contained (trapped) in everything. It's Don Juan's idea of being an impeccable warrior: the action is perfect, is not constantly undone by doubts, second-guessing, etc. When you act, you act. When you are still, you are still. Dharma, to me, was always that "moving meditation" where instead of sitting on your butt until your ass is square, you live your mundane life in an aware state, and act with purity of purpose in the best way you know how. If you are a writer, you don't "undo" your life by constantly dreaming of being a singer. When you write, you write completely. When you sing, you sing completely.
Nothin' special. The concept itself, like "karma" is well defined in Eastern thought.
Here's the relevant portion of the Wikipedia entry (toss the rest out):
I would throw out the "especially in a religious sense" portion as MEANINGLESS, since there is NO separation between secular and sacred. That's only for lawyers.
"Ethically, it means 'right way of living' or 'proper conduct,' especially in a religious sense."
Sing: (to "I've been workin on the railroad")I been doin' Kali YugaBests,
all the livelong life
I been doin' Kali Yuga
just to get my karma right
Can't you hear the dharma doin?
rise up so early in the morn
light up all the pricey incense
and lay off the internet porn.
"There's an arrogance in the scientific
community that they know better than
the average individual."
—Andrea Lafferty, Traditional Values Coalition
quoted in the NEW YORK TIMES 7-11-2004