The Essence of Dharma is the Essence of Dharma
the 12th Chamgon Tai Situ Rinpoche
The essence of dharma is a very simple way to describe what so called 'Buddhism' is. Now when you reach so called Buddhahood it doesn't mean you reach the realization of only good things, you reach the realization of the essence of all good things, the essence of all bad things, and the essence of all so-called neutral things, everything. You cannot have a Buddha who is ignorant about everything except the good things. So Buddha by definition is realizing the essence of all dharma. Therefore the essence of all dharma, where is it? Where is the essence of all dharma? The essence of all dharma is in us. For me the essence of all dharma is in me and for you the essence of all dharma is in you, in your being. Then, the essence of dharma cannot be different from the essence of dharma of everyone.
So this is what Buddhism is all about. Of course we have dogma, we have infrastructure, we have hierarchy, we have rituals and of course we have ascetics who are not involved in hierarchy and all these things. But regardless of all of that it doesn't make any difference to the essence, but it is sometimes helpful at some stage for us to have hierarchy, ritual and dogma etc. For example, if you have a 100-storey building with 10,000 rooms you have to have an elevator, and if your elevator buttons don't have numbers and your floors don't have numbers and your rooms don't have numbers, then how are you going to function? To find 2 your friend you would have to search from top to bottom, room by room and knock on each door. But still you might not find them because while you are searching on one floor your friend could have gone to another floor which you have already searched. Therefore, hierarchy, ritual, infrastructure, all of these things are necessary, but once you reach beyond that and once you have the capacity to know what is what and who is where, then you don't need it