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Dharma (Sanskritm., धर्म dharma; Pali: dhamma, from dhṛ "to hold, to support", related to Latinfirmus "firm, stable, established" - and hence "law") in Hinduism refers to mores, law and ethical and religious obligations, i.e. it is an expression for moral law and is seen as being particularly connected with Vishnu. In Buddhism, it is primarily understood to mean the Buddha's teaching of the Four Noble Truths. In later Hinduism, the term Dharma replaced the term Rita (Sanskritn., ऋत ṛta "truth, law, order"), which was central in the Vedic period and denoted both the natural order and the moral order of people and society and is closely linked to the two deities Mitra and Varuna, who appeared as their guardians and custodians[1]. Tied to Rita is the order of the Heavens and the Earth and of all beings, humans, animals, plants and gods.

According to Rudolf Steiner, Dharma is the law of the soul, the law of destiny recognised in clear I-consciousness and subsequently consciously carried out by the I. The further the true self-knowledge of man progresses, the more he can become the conscious executor and shaper of his destiny out of the insight into the spiritual developmental necessities of his individual being. The fate working from the unconscious depths of the soul, the karma, thus gradually becomes the conscious law of the soul, which the individual human spirit gives itself. It is precisely this conscious law of the human soul that is designated by the Indian term dharma. The next goal of human development is to transform karma more and more into dharma in the course of repeated earth lives. Once this goal has been achieved, man, as Buddha first expressed it, no longer needs any further earthly embodiments for his future development, but progresses from then on along a purely spiritual path of development.

„Through the Buddha, humanity has become what the soul can find as its own law, what it can establish in order to purify itself and organise itself upwards to a high moral height such as can be attained on earth. The law of the soul, Dharma, was proclaimed by the Buddha, was proclaimed in such a way as man can find it out of the human soul itself at the highest stage of development of human nature. And Buddha was the one who first extracted it.“ (Lit.:GA 114, p. 116f)


References to the work of Rudolf Steiner follow Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works (CW or GA), Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach/Switzerland, unless otherwise stated.
Email: verlag@steinerverlag.com URL: www.steinerverlag.com.
Index to the Complete Works of Rudolf Steiner - Aelzina Books
A complete list by Volume Number and a full list of known English translations you may also find at Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works
Rudolf Steiner Archive - The largest online collection of Rudolf Steiner's books, lectures and articles in English.
Rudolf Steiner Audio - Recorded and Read by Dale Brunsvold
steinerbooks.org - Anthroposophic Press Inc. (USA)
Rudolf Steiner Handbook - Christian Karl's proven standard work for orientation in Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works for free download as PDF.