Experiencing Dharma

I have been trying to fully understand – d-h-a-r-m-a –  What does it mean to progress along ‘the path of dharma’? Surely if I better understood what this word means, I would know if I was on the right path or not? I have discovered that it is more than just a word but a universal law that mutiple faiths claim as their own. It is the very stuff of being.

Wow! For someone who has spent probably far too much time stuck in existenial angst this is rich territory. Could this quest of mine to understand this six letter word finally give the answers I have been searching for?

Thankfully for someone like me who has always struggled with knowledge and learning, rather than needing mutliple degrees and phds, the power of -d-h-a-r-m-a- lies in its simplicity, and its ability to be embraced by any being capable of distinguishing between a wholesome and unwholesome thought.

But speaking from experience this ability is not easy.

When you are accustomed to rolling in negative unwholesome thought, without being aware of how often these thoughts snowball into action and further misery, change is difficult.

If progressing on the path of dharma is about living a life that seeks to purify one’s mind of all unwholesomeness, somehow I have to generate both militance to my default setting of rolling in negative, unwholesome thought, but also to be able love, and to have compassion and equanimity to these thoughts. They are part me. I do not want to have to construct a concentration camp in my mind, purifying myself of what I naturally generate. Surely that is dharma?

This is it. This is the dance. Rather than sitting where it is safe on the outside observing others, this is the stuff of living life. What I understand is this is also the stuff of striving to taste and experience the fruits of dharma.

Enlightement. Liberation. Probably not in this lifetime. But by using dharma as an aspiration to live by, maybe I have finally found ‘the meaning of my life’.

What do you think?

References:

“Dharma – Its True Nature”. An International Seminar at Dhamma Giri. Published by Vipassana Research Institute.

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About Ryan Shelton

While I'm currently married to a beautiful woman while teaching physics at Padua Academy, these descriptors fail to capture the totality of my adventurous life. I have hiked over 1700 miles, traveled to 5 continents, managed a bakery, started a meditation center, counseled troubled teens, attended Duke, UNC, and Harvard, protected forests as a wildland firefighter, volunteered thousands of hours with Americorps, rafted the Grand Canyon, SCUBA dived on the Great Barrier Reef, and continues to find new adventures. I hope my writing encourages you to pursue your dreams and be the best version of yourself while supporting your communities to work together to solve the current challenges in our world.

One thought on “Experiencing Dharma

  1. I don’t think the idea of “militance” against rolling in thoughts is correct. By simply observing, you are able to see how rolling in negativity hurts you on a more immediate level. You will not want to roll in negativity anymore. There is a part of you that enjoys it now, but with time and practice meditating, the pull to roll in negativity will become weaker and weaker and you won’t have to devote energy to preventing it. The only vigilance is in maintaining constant awareness.

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