Buddhist Vocabulary

Buddhist Vocabulary


Buddhist Vocabulary: Dharma

Sanskrit: dharma
Pali: dhamma
Tibetan: Wylie transliteration: chos, phonetic: chö

The term dharma has multiple meanings. It is derived from the Sanskrit root dhri, which means “to hold” or “to maintain.”
The three basic definitions are 1) Teachings or Doctrines, 2) Phenomena, 3) Qualities

1. Teachings or Doctrines:
– Refers to all teachings or doctrines, whether they are Buddhist or not.
– In this sense, dharma is something which holds us from falling into suffering.
– In this definition there are 2 subcategories:

o Dharma of Scripture: a teaching that is read or heard
o Dharma of Realization: a teaching that has been integrated and subse-quently manifests in our experience

2. Phenomena:
– Anything that we experience
– From a Buddhist point of view, all that we experience is dependently exist-ent, meaning that what we perceive are appearances that depend on many conditions or constituent parts coming together. These constituent parts are phenomena or dharmas.

3. Qualities or Characteristics:
– Any quality or characteristic of an awakened being’s body, speech, or mind