Dharma and Religion – the foundational difference

Dharma and Religion – the foundational difference February 13, 2012

The Rose
A rose was born in a lovely garden of marigolds and jasmines. In his small lifetime that he had woken up, he was sad and despondent. One day, a Sage happened to pass by and hear his crying.

“What happened, O’ lovely one?”, the Sage asked.

“Please don’t kid me. I am not lovely from any angle.” retorted the Rose.

The Sage smiled and remarked – “And, why do you say that?”.

“Sir, look at those white and bright yellow flowers all around me. They glow and everyone likes them. Look at me, dark unattractive. No one can even smell me sitting between them. I want to be them. What can I do to become them? My color, my height, I want to change everything to become them.”

“But, by believing yourself to be like them, does you no good, dear Rose. You are what you are, and there is no one as beautiful and as fragrant as a rose. Currently, you are feeling all this because this is the festive time, and people make marigold and Jasmine garlands. When the time for love comes, people will look for you.”

“Wonder when that time comes? Its been 2 weeks already and I won’t live for more than 2 more weeks at my best.” sighed the Rose.

“Then,” the Sage said, “you should spend the time, knowing your own fragrance and opening yourself up, instead of being despondent and letting your lovely fragrance get over ridden with your anxiety to become something that you are not”.

“Respected Sage, what you say sounds good, but it will do me no good.” Rose said.

“If you don’t know who you are, my dear Rose, whatever you will do will be a mistake. If you haven’t ever been in touch with your fragrance, then you will always look at other flowers and believe yourself as something else… without ever knowing that you are THE Rose.”

When Sage had failed to help Rose to touch his own unique and beautiful fragrance, he moved on. Rose, meanwhile withered away in the coming week, without ever knowing that it carried a fragrance that millions pay so much to experience.

Dharma is the fragrance, your fragrance. Religion is the collection of beliefs that one carries along. Rose’s fragrance is Rose’s Dharma. Rose’s belief that Yellow flowers are “better” than Dark Red, is his Religion.

Rose’s fragrance is all there is to it. Its belief in yellow being better has no bearing to its beauty, its life or its splendour.

It doesn’t matter who you are, Jasmine or Rose or Marigold or even Cactus – you have your own Dharma. Your own essence. It has a value and it has an importance. Every essence has the same shot at self realization. Every Cactus can get in touch with its inner essence as much as a Rose can. Their Self Realization is in-born in them, IF they seek to understand their own Essence, their own Fragrance.

But if a Rose or a Cactus keeps believing in his Red-ness or Thorni-ness and yearns to be something different, because it is something that the 4 weeks of season in the Garden is seeking – then it has wasted its entire (albeit short) lifetime.

Religion can never lead you to know yourself. Dharma can. Any Dharma. And Dharma – the fragrance – has NO relationship to your Religion – the belief of being something else than what you are.

So, let us understand the precepts of Dharma clearly. Dharma is the cosmic law. The Hukum, or the Dhamma. The Cosmic Foundation (Dharma comes from the root – That which holds) of this existence. My Dharma is how that Cosmic Foundation manifests in me.

Fragrance and Beauty is a Garden’s Dharma. A Rose’s Dharma is how that manifests in its life. As Rose’s fragrance and its beauty. It is a sub-set, yet it encapsulates the entire Dharmic character of the Garden.

My Dharma is my essence. It is not Cosmic as it manifests in me, but it encapsulates everything of the Cosmic Character.

So, let us clarify some cobwebs:

Do All Religions lead to Truth? NO.
Do All Dharmas lead to Truth? YES.
Can you find Truth in someone else’s Religion? NO.
Can you find Truth in someone else’s Dharma? NO.
Can you find Truth in only YOUR Dharma? YES! (as long as it is Dharma and not religion)

Dharmic Existence – as known from the Rishis and Scriptures – is predicated on knowing your essence and living it. Not to copy or emulate someone. Not trying to be unique or superior to anyone. Not trying to be “Good” or “Nice” in the parlance of the new Season in the Garden, but in living what you are.

Religion is a useless construct, which unfortunately for the humanity, has become the main currency of our existence. It should never have been made important. Dharma was, is, and will remain the ONLY Currency worth keeping. Religion had never helped anyone and will never do so in future.

The Rose despondent in his darkness, and not touched by its own fragrance will wither away in sorrow and pain.

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