In this answer Sat-Dharma is referred to. I can kind of get the meaning from the context but what exactly is Sat-Dharma? What is the 'Sat' part. Why not just refer to the Dharma? Does it have additional significance or slightly different meaning? Does it come from a particular tradition?

  • Don't really know whether this is what you search: dictionary.buddhistdoor.com/en/word/271454/sat-dharma - just found it googling around Commented Nov 19, 2014 at 19:14
  • OK thanks. I didn't Google it to be honest. I should have. But why use this term in preference to dharma. What is the difference between the two Commented Nov 20, 2014 at 7:31
  • Frankly, I've never seen this word before...(perhaps somehow related to "sat-sang"?) Commented Nov 20, 2014 at 9:07

5 Answers 5


In my usage, Sat-Dharma or Saddharma means Invariant System or Universally Valid Way.

Sat means "eternal" or "true" in the sense of staying always relevant/applicable, over time and across "the parallel worlds" (alternative ways of seeing life) - therefore a reliable beacon for decision-making.

Dharma means way, tradition, system -- a way of seeing life and acting accordingly.

The way I use the term is to emphasize the invariant aspect, irrespective of a specific form -- Buddhism or what have you. I believe this is the way Gautama Buddha used the term as well.

Sat-Dharma is what's behind the rational ("scientific") method, the common sense, the teaching of Buddha, the sanity of successful people, the wisdom of the elders, and the holiness of the saints. The reason these are as relevant/successful/respected as they are is because they are grounded in Reality to a lesser or larger degree, while Sat-Dharma is that ideal, archetypal teaching that is by definition 100% grounded in Reality.

You could ask, but is there really anything that stays valid across all contexts?

This is like playing chess: there is no one move that is right in all situations but you can learn to play the game. In chess, there is no single pre-defined winning strategy. In one sense, we always improvise, every decision is made ad-hoc based on whatever makes sense given the circumstances and available information. On the other hand, there are principles that can be taught and mastered. Because the principles have their roots down in the fundamental rules of the game (dharmakaya), many of them will inevitably be rediscovered by many different people and passed on in various shapes and forms.

In this sense Satdharma is more fundamental than historical Buddhism. You could say Satdharma is that salt that makes Buddhism relevant.


'Sat' is derived from Satya which means truth...The word Sat-Dhamma means true Dhamma


Andrei uses it frequently.

The first time I noticed it was in this comment.

In that context my guess was that "true" dharma implies that, "if law that's being taught (i.e. dhamma) is wrong, then what's being taught must change (to be true)."

Another possibility could be that 'dhamma' has a lesser, mundane meaning.

For example, this version of the Samudda Sutta says,

There are, bhikkhus, mental phenomena cognizable by the mind, which are agreeable, pleasant, pleasing, enticing, connected with sensuality, delightful. There the world with the devas, Māras, Brahmās, with recluses and brahmans, this generation with devas and humans, is in majority submerged, having become entangled like a thread, having become like a knot of string, become like [mixed] grass and reeds, unable to go beyond states of woe, painful conditions, downfalls, transmigration.

There, "mental phenomena" is a translation of "dhamma",

dhamma: several aspects of the word may be distinguished:

  1. in its most general sense, it designates all the phenomena of the universe, including Nibbāna. It could be in this context be translated as 'thing' or 'phenomenon'.
  2. mental phenomenon, mental state, mental content.
  3. teaching - whether of the Buddha or of some other teacher.
  4. nature or quality or property or characteristic of a phenomenon. In compounds, it may mean: 'having the nature of--' or 'being by nature subject to--', ex: vipariṇāma·dhamma
  5. the law of Nature, the liberating law taught by the Buddha. It is also the second of the tiratana and the tisaraṇa.

... and the Samudda Sutta warns that you can get lost in, entangled in "mental phenomena".

I assume that this kind of "mental phenomena" are not the "true" dhamma.

Finally, meaning #4 of the dictionary definition above suggests it means "having the nature of truth" or "being true". Andrei mentions the word sanity too, occasionally, which might be related: being true, being sane, understanding the world and acting appropriately.


From the website satdharma.org:


The word means "the genuine teachings of things as they are" and refers to the stream of wisdom teachings that stems from the Buddha Shakyamuni. These teachings have been handed from master to student over centuries and are now established in the West through various lineages.

The Satdharma organization is a non profit religious organization headed by Patrick Sweeney. Patrick Sweeney was chosen as lineage holder and successor of Ösel Tendzin. Ösel Tendzin was chosen as lineage holder and successor of Chögyam Trungpa.

The Satdharma organization runs the Pullahari retreat center. Here is some information on their curriculum:

The Satdharma curriculum provides a contemporary framework that ensures a student's understanding does not stop at the cognitive level, and that relates to their physical, emotional and mental states as the working basis of transformation. Gentle yoga and energetic bodywork are an important part of the curriculum. Small groups meet regularly to study and practice, to refresh personal intention, and to receive mentorship when needed.

The Pullahari retreat center "serves the Satdharma community as a retreat space for group and solitary retreats throughout the year".

So in addition to the excellent answer chosen; satdharma is also an organization and community run by Patrick Sweeney and founded by Ösel Tendzin both of whom are in the Chögyam Trungpa lineage as shown very concisely here on this page.


What is Sat-Dharma?

Sat-Dharma is most probably a Sanskrit word. I am not sure what it means because I use the Theravada canon.

In the Theravada canon there is a word saddhamma. Most probably that is what the question refers to. The meaning of Saddhamma is: Dhamma of Sappurisa. A Sappurisa is a person who has two qualities called Hiri and Ottappa. There are no English equivalents for these two words. Rough equivalents are: (1) Hiri: shame shyness. Hiri prevents one from transgressing social norms, family traditions etc: (2) Ottappa is fear of wrong-doing.

An Asappurisa is a person who has no Hiri and Ottappa.

Above explanations are based on the sayings attributed to the Lord Buddha (Bhagava Buddho) in the Theravada canon.

  • The Sanskrit is Satya (the Pali is sacca).
    – ChrisW
    Commented Oct 25, 2016 at 14:12
  • PED says, "Sacca (adj) [Cp. Sanskrit Satya]; Sanskrit Satya is not the Pali Sacca. Origin of Satya is the Vedic religion. Origin of Sacca is the Dhamma (pointed out by Bhagava). Dhamma are the laws that govern the behaviour of all beings. Commented Dec 4, 2016 at 9:02

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