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Ten Meanings of Dharma

Kyabjé Dudjom Rinpoche gives ten meanings for the term Dharma, quoting from Vasubandhu’s The Principles of Elucidation (Vyakhyayukti [Skt.], Namshé Rigpa [Tib.]):

  • an object of knowledge,
  • the path,
  • nirvana,
  • a mental object,
  • merit,
  • life,
  • teachings of the Buddha,
  • what is subject to age or change,
  • religious vows, and
  • spiritual tradition.

They all relate to the sense of ‘holding’, which is the meaning of dhr, the root of the word Dharma.

Eight Qualities of the Dharma

According to Maitreya's Uttaratantra Shastra, the Dharma has eight qualities of cessation and the path:

1) purity, since free from emotional obscurations
2) clarity, since free from cognitive obscurations
3) remedy, since it overcomes both obscurations

4) inconceivable, since beyond concepts
5) utterly peaceful, since it is free from karma and disturbing emotions
6) unfathomable, since individually cognized

And 7) cessation; and 8) the path.