Reality is Dharma

This blog site name owes itself to a quote from the Therevadan bikkhu Ajahn Sumedho.

Ajahn Sumedho, a Buddhist monk of the Thai forest tradition, is an American who was raised as a christian in the United States. In his life, although he states that his upbringing and childhood was wonderful, he could never rid himself of his sense of personal suffering. He was first drawn to the Zen tradition in the 1950’s, and then in his 30’s, moved on to the forest tradition of Thai Theravada Buddhism, to become a bikkhu or monk. Today, in his 80’s, he is a very influential voice for the Theravada Buddhist tradition.

Ajahn Sumedho states, that through his many years of study, and from his unique American Buddhist point of view, that the best translation for the Buddhist word Dharma (Sanskrit)  or Dhamma (Pali), is Reality.

Dharma is a term, which was often used by Buddha in his teachings, and has been variously translated “law, the principle of the cosmic order, the teaching of Buddha, etc”. In many ways, it has continued to the present, to be an almost untranslatable term from Pali or Sanskrit into English.

The teaching of the dharma is so fundamental in Buddhism, that to not have a proper translation for the term creates a huge barrier of understanding to those who have been raised in other traditions.

If westerners grasp that “accepting reality… as it is”  is the fundamental message of the Buddhas teaching , it can bring that message to a personal and clear level, regardless of the hearers beliefs.

The Four Noble truths could then be understood as:

  • the acceptance of reality… as it is….
  • what that acceptance of reality means
  • how to properly “do” acceptance of reality
  • the outcome of that acceptance of reality.

In each persons life, there are many small awakenings. Yet there are always several which stand out in ones mind, that are memories of, or represent, a “shift in ones thinking”. Connecting the dots of Reality and Dharma, has been a rather startling shift for this “one drop in the ocean of awareness” person.

After having read many texts, and essays, on the meaning of Dharma in the Buddhist tradition, upon hearing Ajahn Sumedo’s voice saying “I believe the best translation for the word dharma is reality”, a cry of eureka! arose in my awareness.

This happening is a wonderful blossoming. After many years of searching for truth as a christian, then becoming a zen practitioner searching for enlightenment, the realization that enlightenment grows from ones acknowledgement and carte blanche acceptance  of “Reality…..just as it is” and ones own experience of it, is a tremendous inspiration.

The importance of Ajahn Sumedho’s teaching, along with other prominent modern teachers,  is that they fully bring the deep meaning of Buddhism forward into the modern world. Not presenting an anachronistic mystical (and often superstitious) tradition which is next to impossible to understand, and near impossible to make relevant to a modern persons life and experience, but rather by bringing forth from their own personal depths of experience, a recognizable form which can enlighten its hearers, as well as to dispel the misunderstandings of modern thinking.

Whereas the honored and respected teachers of old were trying to awaken those of their era with their parables and sutras, these current awakened teachers are using their own experience in the modern world, to bring a correct understanding of reality to those who are willing to listen……

“What the world needs now” more than anything, in this tumultuous time in human history is for a awakening to happen in the individual lives of the human beings on this planet. It is teachers like Ajahn Sumedho, who are “out there”, sowing the seeds of awakening.

To these teachers, this person kneels and bows deeply.



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