The essence of Dharma


What we do affects others only to the extent that they take it. If they do not take it, then no matter what you do, it won’t affect them at all, be it good or bad.

There lived a saint named Diogenes, who was enslaved by Alexander. Alexander had him tied up in chains and handcuffed. When he was being sold at the slave market, he looked so strong and confident that the person trying to sell him looked like a slave. Diogenes did not look like a slave at all. So, whatever we do affects people only as much as they take in.

If you swear at someone and he doesn’t listen to you at all; instead, he thinks you’re talking in another language or he thinks you’re praising him, then what effect would your words have on him? You are talking about something very wise, maybe you are giving knowledge, but the other person is not listening to you at all, just sitting like a stone, then what influence will your talk have on him? Unless the person decides to absorb what you are saying and take it in, he will neither be positively nor negatively affected by it.

This does not mean you should give people grief and misery. The saying, ‘Sukhasya dukhasya nakopi daata’ (no one is the giver of happiness or misery) does not mean that you keep giving as much grief as you possibly can, to others. No! You must be sensitive.

What you do not like for yourself, why should you do unto others? This is Dharma. So, if someone swears at us, we feel sad about it. That means we should not swear at others. And, if we do not like people stealing things from us, then we should not steal from others. So, whatever we don’t want inflicted on us, we should not do to others. This simple notion is the essence of Dharma – the knowledge of one’s duty.