Ancient Chinese Dharma Seekers - 3
Dharma is the system of rules, customs, ethics, and internal truths that many people believe allow for the continued existence of a controlled universe. The practice of seeking dharma has been a constant thread throughout the history of human existence, and the ancient Chinese dharma seekers were pioneers in developing a system of seeking to maintain dharmic balance.
What does dharma really mean?
The word dharma is derived from a Sanskrit word that translates loosely into the phrases "to bear", "to carry", and "to sustain". It is commonly accepted to use the word dharma to describe a combination of natural, universal laws and internal moral laws that combined, if followed, will allow humans to find peace and happiness.
Who were the ancient Chinese dharma seekers?
The Chinese culture developed the concept of dharma, frequently called Tao, very early in the development of their religious foundations. Ancient Chinese believers in tao believed that everything in nature was comprised of multiple conflicting forces that interacted to maintain a strict balance.
Confucius - China's Statesman Philosopher
One of the earliest Chinese dharma seekers was Confucius. He believed that the Chinese people of his time were suffering because they had abandoned the basic principles of honor, honesty, and morality. Confucius wrote down his thoughts and intuitions concerning the interactions between men and nature, and how to maintain balance and achieve peace. The teachings of Confucius became a large part of the education and spiritual enrichment of the Chinese people, and became so ingrained in Chinese culture that the practice of Confucianism still exists and thrives in people throughout the world.
Lao-tzu - Developer of Taoism
Born nearly a decade after Confucius, another famous seeker of truth from ancient China was Lao-tzu. Lao-tzu wrote about the concept of Tao, which translates most literally into "the way" or "the path". Lao-tzu taught followers of Taoism that they must actively seek to work with nature, and not to act in any way that would be against the natural flow of the universe. Nearly 2700 years after the creation of his book about seeking Tao, Lao-tzu still influences the world with his beliefs.
Buddha - China's "Enlightened One"
Siddharta Gautana founded the practice of Buddhism in India in the late 500's BC. He taught that humans should throw off the concerns of day to day living and focus instead on achieving a state of perpetual inner peace. The teachings of Siddharta, called Buddha, travelled into China by way of traders and explorers along the Silk Road. Buddhism teaches that humans can, through meditation and following of non-selfish behavioral practices, reach a state of perfect peace called "nirvana". Today, Buddhism is China's most prevalent religious movement.
Seeking dharma, or balance and peace, is a practice that began in China almost with the beginning of organized civilization. The ancient dharma seekers influenced their culture so strongly that today, more than two thousand years later, the entire world remembers their contributions to subject of spiritual development.