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The Dharmacakra (Sanskrit: धर्मचक्र), lit. "Wheel of Dharma" or "Wheel of Law" is a symbol that has represented dharma, the Buddha's teaching of the path to enlightenment, since the early period of Indian Buddhism. It is also sometimes translated as wheel of doctrine or wheel of law. A similar symbol is also in use in Jainism. It is one of the Ashtamangala Symbols.
The Dharmacakra symbol is represented as a chariot wheel (Sanskrit cakram) with eight or more spokes. It is one of the oldest known Buddhist symbols found in Indian art, appearing with the first surviving post-Harappan Indian iconography in the time of the Buddhist king Aśoka. The Dharmacakra has been used by all Buddhist nations as a symbol ever since. In its simplest form, the Dharmacakra is recognized globally as a symbol for Buddhism.
Dhárma is a multivalent term of great importance in Indian philosophy and religions. In the context of Hinduism, it means one's righteous duty, and a Hindu's dharma is affected by the person's age, class, occupation, and gender. In modern Indian languages it can be equivalent simply to religion, depending on context. The word dharma translates as that which upholds or supports, and is generally translated into English as "law."
The file from which the above art was created - a file from the Wikimedia Commons
According to the various Indian religions, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism, beings that live in accordance with Dharma proceed more quickly toward dharma yukam, moksha or nirvana (personal liberation). The antonym of dharma is adharma meaning unnatural or immoral.
Dharma also refers to the teachings and doctrines of the founders of Buddhism and Jainism, the Buddha and Mahavira. In Buddhist philosophy, dhamma/dharma is also the term for "phenomenon".
For practicing Buddhists, references to "Dharma" or Dhamma in Pali, particularly as "the" Dharma, generally means the teachings of the Buddha, commonly known throughout the East as Buddha-Dharma.
The status of Dharma is regarded variably by different Buddhist traditions. Some regard it as an ultimate truth, or as the font of all things which lies beyond the 'three realms' (Sanskrit: tridhatu) and the 'wheel of becoming' (Sanskrit: bhavacakra), somewhat like the Christian logos: this is known as Dharmakaya (Sanskrit). Others, who regard the Buddha as simply an enlightened human being, see the Dharma as the essence of the '84,000 different aspects of the teaching' (Tibetan: chos-sgo brgyad-khri bzhi strong) that the Buddha gave to various types of people, based upon their individual propensities and capabilities.
The Dharmakāya (Sanskrit: धर्म काय; Pali: धम्म कय, lit. "truth body" or "reality body") is a central idea in Mahayana Buddhism forming part of the Trikaya doctrine that was possibly first expounded in the Aṣṭasāhasrikā prajñā-pāramitā (The Perfection of Insight In Eight Thousand Verses), composed in the 1st century BCE. It constitutes the unmanifested, "inconceivable" (Sanskrit: acintya) aspect of a Buddha, out of which Buddhas – and indeed all "phenomena" (Sanskrit: dharmas) – arise, and to which they return after their dissolution.
"Dharma" usually refers not only to the sayings of the Buddha, but also to the later traditions of interpretation and addition that the various schools of Buddhism have developed to help explain and to expand upon the Buddha's teachings. For others still, they see the Dharma as referring to the "truth," or the ultimate reality of "the way that things really are" (Tib. Cho).
in which practitioners of Buddhism seek refuge, or that upon which one relies for his or her lasting happiness. The Three Jewels of Buddhism are the Buddha, meaning the mind's perfection of enlightenment, the Dharma, meaning the teachings and the methods of the Buddha, and the Sangha, meaning those awakened beings who provide guidance and support to followers of the Buddha.
1st century CE, Gandhara; historical display at Zenyōmitsu-ji (善養密寺), a Buddhist Temple located in the Setagaya ward of Tokyo, Japan. --The bottom symbol is the Triratna or "Three Jewels,", - the top symbol is a dharmachakra.
The Three Jewels,
also called the Three Treasures, the Three Refuges, or the Triple Gem (triratna)), are the three things that Buddhists take refuge in, and look toward for guidance, in the process known as taking refuge.
The Three Jewels are:
Sanskrit, Pali: The Enlightened or Awakened One - Depending on one's interpretation, can mean the historical Buddha (Shakyamuni) or the Buddha nature—the ideal or highest spiritual potential that exists within all beings;
Sanskrit: The Teaching; Pali: Dhamma - The teachings of the Buddha.
Sanskrit, Pali: The Community - The community of those who have attained enlightenment, who may help a practicing Buddhist to do the same. Also used more broadly to refer to the community of practicing Buddhists.
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