All of the great spiritual and healing traditions and customs exercised on the subcontinent of India and many beyond are founded on the theory of natural law or Dharma. Dharma (which is a Sanskrit word ) relates to the laws of truth that govern the entire universe. Dharma is that fundamental principle which upholds things, and literally can be thought of as a pillar. The underlying principles which keep all things functioning harmoniously and sustains their higher growth and development are Dharmas.
Just as physical laws, should be equal for all beings, so too must the dharmic principles. Dharma designates the foundation of the universal laws on which we must base our actions for them to be supported by the universe. Hinduism calls itself Sanatana Dharma; the Eternal Dharma, implying a tradition of natural law that is not limited by time, space or persons. Buddhism calls the natural way of enlightenment itself Buddha Dharma. Yoga can be called dharmic spiritual practice, Yoga Dharma.
Ayurveda can be called dharmic medicine. Ayurveda represents a dharmic approach to everyday living and health. It is a process of natural healing based on natural law, as conscious healing follows the laws of consciousness. Ayurveda is the science of well-being based upon dharmic principles, which seeks to uphold the dharmic law both in the treatment and in its lifestyle. Dharmic living grants us access to both health and happiness, putting us in contact with the cosmic forces of benevolence. Adharmic living, a life lived contrary to Dharma, brings about pain and disharmony.
Most psychological problems and emotional disorders can be found in adharmic living, living out of harmony with the universe. Most physical diseases are based on it as well. Adharmic lifestyles are one of the bases that all ayurvedic treatments and all lifestyle routines are based on, the illnesses and diseases that came about from living outside the natural laws of the universe gave the Rishis insights on how to repair and rebalance the body to bring it back into living in accordance with the principles of Dharma.
Yoga is a dharmic approach to the spiritual life, which is the method of Self-realization. It instructs us how to follow our higher dharma, which is to give up outer seeking and strive to know our true nature. As the saying goes, “To thy own self be true”. All forms of yoga’s methodologies are dharmic in nature, helping to allow us to harness natural law and the spiritual forces of the universe to transform our consciousness from ignorance to enlightenment.
The chief dharmic law is the law of karma: as we act, so must we experience the outcome of our actions, in this life and in future lives too. The universe maintains a sense of absolute justice, which plays out through many incarnations and cannot be seen by a momentary look at human affairs. It is one of the developments of consciousness rather than just a justice of outer rewards and punishments. Dharmic action produces inner peace and happiness and allows us to pursue spiritual practice. Adharmic action constricts our consciousness and commits us to darkness and a turbulence of mind, although it may give us temporary external gains.
Our occupation or vocation in life should also follow an energy of love and not be harmful to other creatures. Unfortunately, modern culture has become built upon competition and wasteful consumption from which there is a great harm caused not only to other creatures but to the planet itself. Take this contradiction into consideration, medicines should be not be based upon cruelty. Modern medicine believes that by causing harm to other creatures, like when we test on animals, we can discover benefits for healing people.
Ayurveda knows that this is a false logic. We cannot alleviate suffering for one creature by causing suffering to another more helpless creature. Suffering begets suffering. On the contrary, caring for other creatures benefits our own health, even if it means placing the greater good of all creatures above the good of our own particular species. We cannot possibly triumph in life or gain wisdom at the expense of the world in which we live.