Dharma 20th August 1999 (Auroville) - Dharma 101

Some of the students’ questions relevant to this talk:

1. Isn’t the ego a necessary evil, for without the ego to make or pass judgments becomes impossible, because it is always from our own point of view that we make judgments? The ego that makes us brag or boast is clearly wrong, but the inner ego at times seems necessary.

2. From what I understand, Dharma is a set of unchangeable rules preset by people from different classes or sections of society. Does it not make more sense and is it not more true that each individual finds his own dharma according to his own philosophy. Is dharma unchangeable?

3. We were studying Descartes and he says: ‘I think therefore I am’. How did the Indians prove the existence of the individual?

4. If Auroville wants to be a different place why do some schools reproduce the European way of teaching? Is it because those teachers don’t agree with the idea of New Education? If they don’t why do they teach here? Why should some schools be materially privileged – grow bigger and bigger when others are still in their old buildings?

5. Why is it that society will respect those youth who have achieved exams more than those who haven’t. What should be the correct way for us in Auroville?

6. Do you think something important will happen in the year 2000?

7. Do you think we will need a certificate to find a work in life?

8. I am confused about the purpose of exams and I would like to know why in Auroville education exams are not so useful?

Let me first speak about Dharma which was my first promise to be fulfilled, and maybe many of the questions which have been raised may be covered.


Now the word Dharma being a Sanskrit word may pose a difficulty to many who do not know Sanskrit. So let me explain the word itself so that we can enter into the meaning. In Sanskrit, which is one of the most original languages of the world, there is a direct connection between sound and meaning. Just as a child makes sounds in order to convey something, similarly in the beginning, human beings make sounds to convey some meanings. And one of the sounds is "dha". We will see that the word, the letter "dha" or the sound "dha" has some kind of a force which makes you settled, it gives you a sense, even if you do not know the meaning of "dha", you just pronounce "dha" again and again, and every time "dha" is pronounced, you will feel as if it has an effect of settling down. That's why in many, many words, all over the world, in many languages, the endings are "dh". Even the article in English language "the" has the same kind of a feeling the thing, The universe it is also the definite article. This is a recognised thing in English language. "a" is indefinite article but "the" is a definite article. It makes you definite. So the word "dharma" is fundamentally "dha": something definite. Now that which is definite requires no support. What do we call definite? Definite is something that is not flowing out, it is settled and therefore it is - it does not need support, it is itself the support. Something else can be put into it, but it is itself the support. Therefore in Sanskrit language the word "dharma" means the support; that which holds; that which makes things definite; that which shapes with a definite form; that from which you cannot escape. You can see, all these are interrelated meanings − that from which you cannot escape.


Somebody said in the question: "Is not Dharma unchangeable?" And the question grasps quite well that Dharma is something to do with making things permanent, solid, inescapable, unchangeable, which can give the support, which can hold you. Even when there is too much of fluctuation, too much of dispersion, Dharma is that which brings together all dispersing forces. Therefore Dharma is also used as the force of unification that, which unites, brings together.

Now it is very important to remember that in human life or in any universal life, there are always two elements: one element is constant flow, which is very easy to see. You can see this young boy, he is constantly flowing, there is a force in him, it comes at the right moment, it flows. When I was trying to explain: it is very easy to see the flow. In fact this world can also be described as 'Time', and you will see that time is a constant flow. The past moves into the present, and before you catch the present, the future has already begun to be born. Such a tremendous flow is the nature of Time. And yet at the same time there is a tendency in every one of us to hold the flow. Now, this is very often not understood properly. Do we really need to hold the flow? The highest need of human beings, highest need... you will see in the human life as you proceed more and more, there will be a greater and greater need to hold.


It is said that Buddha... You know the story of the Buddha - You know who was Buddha? Have you heard of him? Yes! He was a great prince of Kapilavastu and he was living a life of happiness, plentitude. There was nothing that was not provided to him. In winter he had a winter palace, in summer he had a summer palace, in the monsoon he had a monsoon palace, so that he always felt comfort. And he grew up into adulthood, so to say, without realising the realities of life. And suddenly, one day, when he was taken out in a chariot, he saw four things, and his whole life was changed. You know what are the four things he saw? He saw a dead body being carried, and he asked his charioteer: "What is this?" And it came upon him that this happens to everybody. Today you are alive, breathing, doing, enjoying, but everybody comes to a point where there is a stoppage. Everybody passes into a state of death. And it shocked him and he asked: "I too will pass into this?" And the answer was "Yes!" The second thing he saw was an old man, and that sight also surprised him because death is one thing, but to see an old body is quite another; an old body which cannot sustain itself, which cannot hold itself, which has to take the help of a stick and move with difficulty. A youth does not recognize and does not even feel − when there is so much of energy, and so much flow of power and capacity − that a time may come when the capacity is diminished and when suddenly the old body becomes crippled. And to imagine you how to live a crippled life is a great shock. The fourth sight that he saw was that of a hermit a man who had renounced and was in quest. He had already seen the third sight of a diseased body, and he contrasted all these four sights, and what was his basic question thereafter which arose in his mind? All of this is moving, changing; is there something permanent? That was his question. Is there something permanent? It was the greatest need of his being, to find out the permanent. Is there permanence? When we are young and are children, we still do not have that great urge to find out the permanent, because we are flowing in energy and we are growing, but a time comes in human life when you ask this question: "Can it be permanent?" And so the Buddha renounced the kind of life that he was living, overnight. He became extremely troubled, and he felt that unless he finds an answer to this question, he could not live anymore in the way in which he was living. So, imagine the kind of quest, and the force of the quest. I don't think many people have this kind of quest, so much so that they decide that henceforth they will not rest until they find an answer to the quest. This quest was to find out the permanent.  

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