Dark Learning

A philosophical movement associated with commentators such as Wáng Bì 王弼 (226–249) and Guō Xiàng 郭 象 (d. 312). The movement had an affinity for the ideas of philosophical Daoism and probed into questions such as the origin and nature of the world. For Wáng Bì, nonexistence (wú 無) is the source of all existence (yoˇu 有), whereas for Guō Xiàng, nonexistence is a mere negation. Scholars of dark learning agree that verbal expression cannot adequately describe the reality or source of all things, which is labeled “darkness” or “mystery” (xuán 玄). (Could also be translated “School of Mystery” or “studies of the abstruse.”)


The philosophy developed in and inspired by pre–Common Era texts such as the Dàodé jīng 道德經 of Lˇaozˇı 老子 and the Zhuāngzˇı 莊子. A theme common to many such texts is that a complex society is corrupting and that a return to simpler forms of life is purifying for the individual. 2. The religious texts, beliefs, practices, and movements that developed beginning in the late second century ce that drew on such texts. Such Daoist movements also produced new texts in which Lˇaozˇı is deified. An important goal for these Daoists is the attainment of immortality or at least longevity.


Dharma has two basic meanings. On the one hand, it means the Buddhist "Law" or "Teaching." On the other hand dharma simply refers to a "thing" or "object, " a physical or mental phenomenon. See "Three Jewels."

Dharma Body

(Dharmakaya) One of the three bodies of the Buddha: the body of ultimate truth. See "RETRIBUTION BODY" and "TRANSFORMATION BODY."


A Sanskrit term designating certain states of meditative absorption cultivated by Buddhist practitioners as a technique for attaining enlightenment. See "Ch'an."