One very popular chant or praise extolling the teachings of Buddha (dharma), describes its quality.
This praise had been around since antiquity and is actually one of the best yardsticks for us to determine what dharma is.
Svakkhato Bhagavata dhammo, sanditthiko, akaliko, ehipassiko, opanayiko, paccattam vedittabbo vinnuhiti.
Translation: The Dhamma of the Blessed One is perfectly expounded; Directly Visible; immediately effective; inviting one to come and see; leading onwards; to be known by the wise, each for himself.
The Dhamma of the Blessed One is perfectly expounded
That means the Dharma is consistent and non condictary from beginning to end. The 1st sermon of Buddha is the 4 noble truths. It helps us recognise sufferings, taught us the cause of sufferings, showed us there is an end to sufferings and taught us how to end sufferings.
Buddha consistently taught us to be detached from Samsara. He taught us a way to escape samsara.
He taught a middle path that avoid extremes. For example, while Buddhist emphasize cultivating morality as a foundation to spiritual development, we do not hate or despise people who do not follow our way.
While Buddha taught us to be detached from Samsara and practice renunciation, we do not view material wealth as evil.
While the teaching contains realisation of non-self or non-soul, we do not subscribe to nihilism.
While Buddha preached about non-killing, he disagreed with Devadatta’s proposal to make vegetarianism compulsory. Just to name a few examples.
The Dharma is complete. Nothing is missing. This was confirmed by the Buddha before he entered Parinirvana. He did not hide anything from us.
Dharma is self-evident and can be understood in this life itself.
The dharma is meant to be practiced and understood in this very life. Not to be delayed until the afterlife. The result can be experienced immediately when it is practised. It is not an airy fairy state that is in a fantasy realm.
In fact it is meant to be experienced in the current moment. The scriptures recorded many disciples listening to the Buddha’s sermon and gaining enlightening insights immediately. Truth is self-evidential. It is there, waiting for you to see it.
When we practice the Buddha’s teaching, its effect is immediate. This is because the Dharma is self-healing. It heals the self-inflicted wound that is caused by our ego, craving, aversion and wrong understanding of the world.
Inviting all to come and see
Dharma is open to all. Everyone is welcome to check it out. Try it and experience it themselves. There is no force feeding. There is no commandment.
Each and everyone has to investigate Dharma and understand it and practice it. Then realise it.
The Buddha’s Dharma only leads us towards enlightenment once we put it into practice. Each is responsible for their own effort and result.
to be known by the wise and self-realised.
Dharma is to be self-realised. It is not something that is being bestowed. The wise person recognise the precious instructions of Buddha, practice it, experience it and treasure it. If there is any teacher claiming to bestow enlightenment; then you can be sure that it is not Buddhism.
The Dharma wonderful because it is to be practiced in Samsara and yet the result in beyond Samsara. Just like a lotus that is planted in mud, it departed from the mud to bloom above the water.