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The Universal Ethical Order

The Universal Ethical Order

Edited by Marco Ferrini

From the Book: Karma and Reincarnation

Nothing happens by chance: this universe is a perfect project and as such it is ruled by precise and rigorous laws aimed at governing life and its manifestations. This system of universal laws is known in Vedic culture with the name of dharma, the divine and eternal principle that regulates the natural and moral worlds, creation and all creatures.

Often so-called pleasure carries with itself a seed of pain. Why? Because that pleasure is obtained by violating the universal ethical order – dharma. An intelligent person keeps away from the sources of suffering, determined by the contact of senses with matter.

O son of Kunti, such pleasures have a beginning and an end, therefore the wise do not indulge in them. (B.g. V.22)

There are two fundamental types of dharma: the one that is valid for all human beings and that particular type that applies specifically to the individual according to his social role. The first type is characterized by generosity, benevolence and love for all creatures and is known as sanatana-dharma (eternal or universal dharma) while the second, known as sva-dharma (specific or personal dharma), refers to the duties of the particular individual.

Strictly connected to the concepts of karma (action-reaction), prakriti (material nature) and samsara (cycle of repeated births and deaths), dharma guides us to the proper action within the role we play as individuals. By following dharma, a parent will be a good parent, a soldier will act as a good soldier, a student will become a good student, and so on. Playing our own role well and consciously is dharmic action and generates good karma. Each individual has the responsibility to protect dharma with the purpose of cutting the knots of the heart and to pursue with satisfaction and without “bad side effects” all the purposes of life, up to the highest: the attainment of communion with God (yoga). Adharma is the exact contrary of dharma: anything that violates the order and peace guaranteed by the cosmic Law. Every time dharma is neglected and violated, adharma takes over and creates suffering and confusion. If we want to attain success, including worldly success, we must follow the supreme law of dharma, otherwise everything will crumble in our hands, even in case we can ever obtain it.

The concepts of karma and dharma are thus inextricably connected because individual and collective karma (as the sum of actions and reactions) strictly depends on the relationship that individuals maintain with the cosmic order.