Among other meanings, the word “Dharma” (P., dhamma) can refer to ultimate reality. In the Catusparisat Sûtra, the Dharma we find is immortal, imperishable, and without sorrow (duhkha).
“Then the wandering ascetic Kolita, having seen the Dharma, having perceived the Dharma, having understood the Dharma, having penetrated the Dharma intellectually, free from doubt, free from uncertainty, not dependent on another, not to be led by another and having obtained confidence in the teaching of the Teacher, in the Dharmas, rose from his seat and, putting his upper robe over one shoulder, making añjali in the direction of the wandering ascetic Upatisya, pronounced this solemn utterance:
‘This Dharma of those who are holy ones is the immortal, imperishable place, without sorrow, which is neither seen nor heard of before for may myriads of ten millions of world periods’.” (Catusparisat Sûtra).
Generally speaking, depending upon the context in which it is used, Dharma can have different meanings. It is like our word ‘state’, which depending on the context can have different meanings. When the Buddha, for example, speaks of “all things” (S., sarva-dharma; P., sabbe-dhamma), dharma is referring to temporal things—not the absolute. In the commentarial literature “all things” is regarded as the Five Aggregates which are always considered to belong to Mara the Evil One besides being finite. Elsewhere, the Buddha states that he is untouched by all things.
Generally speaking, Dharma has six basic meanings depending on the context. They are: 1) Teachings of the Buddha; 2) Moral behavior; 3) The truth; 4) A quality or nature; 5) Absolute or ultimate reality; 6) A state or a ‘thing’.