What is the Dharma?

 Dharma is a Buddhist term that has two primary meanings. Both of these are important. And both are interconnected.

Dharma means both truth and experience. As truth, Dharma is the truth about experience. As experience, dharma is the experience of the truth. So Dharma has two sides, the conceptual and the practical.

Dharma is sometimes defined as the Buddha's teaching. This is not wrong, but the connotation is not right. The Buddha taught the "truth," not just a "teaching." In order words, what the Buddha taught corresponded to the way things are. The teaching matches the experience.

Dharmas, in the plural, usually is referring to experience. The fourth approach to mindfulness, is mindfulness of dhammas (the Pali word). It is about being mindfulness of experience as it relates to the Five Hindrances, the attachments of the five aggregates, the six senses, the Seven Factors of Awakening, and the Four Noble Truths (MN 10).

I can't take credit for translating dhamma as experience. Gil Fronsdal translates Dharma as "experience" in his translation of the Dhammapada.

All experience is preceded by mind, led by mind, made by mind. Speak or act with a corrupted mind, and suffering follows as the wagon wheel follows the hoof of the ox (Dhp 1).

Jay Forrest Blog