The Dharma encapsulated in scripture
Dharma is a crucial word in Buddhism. It has many forms and many interpretations. Dharma itself is an ancient Indian word from the Sanskrit language, and in a closely related language known as Pali it takes the form Dhamma. In other Asian languages, it is translated as 'fa' in Chinese, 'ho' in Japanese, and 'chos' in Tibetan. Usually here on Buddha Space it remains untranslated, for as the exploration of this term below will reveal, it is not a word easily rendered into English.
Generally, it has two main definitions which are 1) the Buddhist teachings and 2) a constituent factor that goes to make up experience. The main focus here will be the former meaning and its interpretations, but very briefly the latter will be looked at for the sake of coverage. Usually rendered in English with a small 'd', dharma indicates each element that forms part of the material and physical aspects of the world - not to mention any 'spiritual' phenomena that one may or may not believe in. Everything, therefore, that exists is either a dharma or made up of dharmas. Atoms, thoughts, clouds, art, cars, stars, and duck-billed platypuses consist of dharmas.
Normally represented in English with a capital 'D', Dharma has very different connotations to those written above. This means both the natural way of things, or universal law, and the Buddhist teachings that both point to this truth and describe the Path to realizing it (in other words, enlightenment). In the second sense, it is sometimes found in the longer form Buddhadharma - Buddhadhamma in Pali) - or other regional linguistic equivalents. Depending on what one accepts as genuine Buddhist teaching, this definition of Dharma may include the entirety of teachings to be found from the most ancient Buddhist texts right up to modern teachings, or it may be restricted to a particular sect or set of writings. An example of the latter would be a strict Theravada Buddhist understanding of Dhamma (this is the usual Theravada Buddhist form of the word) as being found in the Pali Canon, rejecting later texts such as the Prajna Paramita writings as heterodox.
As to Dharma representing the way-things-are, or 'the truth', this interpretation of the word is found in all major forms of Buddhism. In the Pali Canon, the Buddha is said to have declared that even when the Buddhist teachings don't exist, the Dharma still exists as the natural way of things. To realize this Dharma is to awaken to our own true nature, which is not made of the constituent dharmas described earlier, but is indefinable as being this, that, or the other. In Oriental Buddhism, the word Zen (and other regional variants) has much the same meaning, which could be deemed to be the transcendent, or the unconditioned as opposed to the conditioned (the dharmas).
This understanding of Dharma is not found in philosophy or ideas, however: it is an experience. To experience Dharma is to experience the facts of life regarding both the ephemeral elements (dharmas) of these bodies and minds, plus the timeless awareness in which they are known. In this sense, the Dharma is all dharmas, for they are found nowhere but in the midst of the truth, and it is found nowhere but right here in the phenomenal world. This experience is both conditioned and transitory, and yet unconditioned and endless. It is conditioned and transitory in its contents (all dharmas), and unconditioned and without end with regards its container. This container is not thoughts, emotions, sensations, memories, or the subconscious - it is awareness itself. Seeing dharmas not only with awareness but as awareness, rather than as a personality with all its limitations, we see the Dharma. And then, as the Thai monk Ajahn Chah pointed out, we are Dharma.