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Where Is Dharma Today?

Dharma: The Perennial Truth

Today the human mind is afflicted with two miseries: On the one hand, man suffers from materially oriented social and cultural values. On the other hand, he has become a victim of fear and insecurity. Because of a materialistic attitude, modern man has an insatiable desire for worldly objects—which leads him away from the higher values of life—and he is burdened with religious dogmas that do not offer anything substantial to satisfy his intellectual search. Unfamiliar with the true significance of religion, he discards even the constructive and useful values of his religious heritage. Consequently, he turns into a disbeliever. He is not satisfied following dogmas and customs, but when he discards them in frustration, he is still dissatisfied.

This dilemma has been perpetuated by blindly following teachers and preachers who themselves do not know what dharma is. Our society today has been shattered into pieces, and the innumerable existing religions have been instrumental in the process of its disintegration. The public at large is suffering from ignorance, inequality, and injustice. We need valid concepts and self-discipline to help us transcend differences of opinion, contradictions in life, and fragmentation.

We must not be afraid to ask questions and find answers for ourselves. We must not be afraid to discard illusion and embrace the truth. We must ask ourselves, what good is that dharma which advises us to wander in the forest, leaving our important responsibilities behind? What good is that dharma where there is no scope for correcting our mistakes in the world and living a clean and peaceful life?

What good is that dharma which advises us to wander in the forest, leaving our important responsibilities behind?

It is useless to brood on the past; if possible, however, we should learn from the past. The journey of life cannot be completed by disassociating ourselves completely from past experiences. Past successes and failures remind us to stay on the right path and thus, if assimilated properly, the experiences of the past can make our present more constructive and creative. As long as we are bound by superficial or dogmatic values from the past, or blind faith, we will not be able to reshape our present and guide our future. In the light of the past, we can select the flower of the future. In order to brighten the future, the past is reborn in the form of the present. We must learn the art of remembering the past and creating a golden future simultaneously. Mere memory of the past resulting in worry, excitement, grief, or pride is worse than forgetting the past entirely. We must learn how to balance the past and the present to create a promising future.

The majority of today’s religious and political leaders lack humanitarian spirit. Having fallen prey to ego, narrow-mindedness, and selfishness, they fail to grasp a broader vision of reality. Instead of teaching universal truth, they propagate their personal beliefs. The ancient sages, on the other hand—the followers and proponents of dharma—were great, their wisdom was profound, and their morals were high. Their spiritual insight transcended the limitations of time and place. They were the mouthpieces of revealed dharma. Withholding nothing, all the great sages in the world shared their knowledge with humanity. In the Bhagavad Gita, the Bible, the Koran, and the Dhammapada, knowledge, like the sun, shines for all.

Source: Spirituality: Transformation Within and Without by Swami Rama

About the Teacher

Swami Rama

One of the greatest adepts, teachers, writers, and humanitarians of the 20th century, Swami Rama (1925–1996) is the founder of the Himalayan Institute. Born in northern India, he was raised from early childhood by the Himalayan sage, Bengali Baba. Under the guidance of his master, he traveled from monastery to monastery and studied with a variety of Himalayan saints and sages, including his grandmaster, who was living in a remote region of Tibet. In addition to this intense spiritual training, Swami Rama received higher education in both India and Europe. From 1949 to 1952, he held the prestigious position of Shankaracharya of Karvirpitham in South India. Thereafter, he returned to his master to receive further training at his cave monastery, and finally, in 1969, came to the United States, where he founded the Himalayan Institute. His best-known work, Living with the Himalayan Masters, reveals the many facets of this singular adept and demonstrates his embodiment of the living tradition of the East.

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